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The Trombone ForumCreation and PerformancePerformance(Moderator: BGuttman) Tuba and bass trom are not interchangeable
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Author Topic: Tuba and bass trom are not interchangeable  (Read 540 times)
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Hicks
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« on: Yesterday at 06:04 AM »

I've noticed this a few times. People think that the bass trombone is a substitute for a tuba. It isn't though is it? Just because both instruments play in the lower range, people who should know better seem to treat the instruments as interchangeable. The sound textures of these instruments are completely different. It does kind of irritate me a bit when I get this from conductors, who ask me to play the tuba part. Yeah, I can certainly do that for you, but it won't be anywhere near the effect produced by a tuba.  :/
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Matt K

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« Reply #1 on: Yesterday at 06:32 AM »

Just as in real estate, where the most important factors are: location, location, location... the most important factors for when you can use bass instead of or in addition to tuba are: context, context, context.  Sometimes it works. Sometimes you have no other choice. Sometimes it doesn't work.  Every scenario basically falls into one of those three buckets.

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« Reply #2 on: Yesterday at 08:03 AM »

Maybe you're better than what the available tuba would produce.
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« Reply #3 on: Yesterday at 08:13 AM »

I tend to agree, sometimes it can work, but more often than not, it isn't ideal.
I'm always really disappointed when I see an absent tuba in an orchestra or wind ensemble. For me that instrument is crucial. It leaves an absolutely gaping hole in the overall sound balance if it's missing.
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« Reply #4 on: Yesterday at 08:18 AM »

I tend to agree, sometimes it can work, but more often than not, it isn't ideal.
I'm always really disappointed when I see an absent tuba in an orchestra or wind ensemble. For me that instrument is crucial. It leaves an absolutely gaping hole in the overall sound balance if it's missing.


So true.
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« Reply #5 on: Yesterday at 08:20 AM »

I would tend to agree, but sometimes there are other factors involved.  I did an orchestra concert where we played mostly "big band" arrangements (5 saxes, 4 trumpets, 4 trombones, strings) and they put a couple of conventional arrangements in.  I was the bass trombone and they wanted me to cover the tuba part on ONE piece (no tuba on any of the others).  Why ask a tuba player to play for one short number out of a concert?  I used to double tuba and if I was 10 years younger I would have brought my tuba in for that piece, but I can't manage to haul as much gear as I used to so I had to play the part on bass trombone.  It sure would have sounded better on tuba, but the economics (and ergonomics) just weren't there.
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« Reply #6 on: Yesterday at 09:21 AM »

Most conductors are perfectly aware that they aren't the same and don't sound the same.

A lot of that Bach keyboard stuff wasn't written for a piano, but it is often played on one.

Are you being asked because there is no tuba (or a weak tuba player)?

It's the bass part. It's kind of important. Upright bass and Electric bass are not the same instrument and sound nothing like each other, but in a pinch they are often substitutes for each other.

Because bass is really important.
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« Reply #7 on: Yesterday at 09:57 AM »

Let me turn this on it's head for a minute.... often bass trombone/cimbasso/ophiclide parts are to be found inside parts marked tuba. Also when three trombones and a tuba are on contract, the tuba is often made to play 4th trombone parts. The tuba is a very different voice to any of those mentioned and often not at all suitable. I have just finished a run of 'La Boheme' on contrabass trombone on the 4th part... that is how it should be... even a large bass is better than a tuba there. Same goes for 'Tosca'. We also just did a concert of early Puccini where parts were marked bass trombone, tuba and ophiclide.... on looking at the scores I decided, with the conductor that a large bass able to play down to G as a harmonic, not a pedal,  would be ideal... so that's what we did. Worked.

Chris Stearn
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« Reply #8 on: Yesterday at 01:04 PM »

Yeah, its not like if you have a part that specifies "tuba" in every context you can assume its going to be fine on bass.... there are contexts it is though. Having a Bass trombone in a brass quintet instead of a tuba certainly doesn't ruin the sound, and repertoire written for brass quintet with tuba shouldn't always be avoided if you have a bass trombone in your quintet.

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« Reply #9 on: Yesterday at 01:52 PM »

Yeah, its not like if you have a part that specifies "tuba" in every context you can assume its going to be fine on bass.... there are contexts it is though. Having a Bass trombone in a brass quintet instead of a tuba certainly doesn't ruin the sound, and repertoire written for brass quintet with tuba shouldn't always be avoided if you have a bass trombone in your quintet.



Well, I don't like the traditional quintet with tuba rep played on bass trombone. I have walked away from our brass quintet because of that.

Chris Stearn
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« Reply #10 on: Yesterday at 01:58 PM »

Well, I don't like the traditional quintet with tuba rep played on bass trombone. I have walked away from our brass quintet because of that.

Chris Stearn

Yeah, its not black and white for me. I don't form an opinion until I hear it in a quintet setting. Sometimes it works, other times notbso much. Same vice versa. I wouldn't bother bringing both a bass trombone and tuba player to a quintet performance though, regardless of the rep. I would expect the quintet to make a decision on which one and pick the most appropriate music accordingly.
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« Reply #11 on: Yesterday at 02:04 PM »

When I played 5th chair I doubled on tuba and bass trombone.  Found that some pieces sound best on tuba and others on bass trombone.  Generally I played a smaller tuba (F-Tuba).
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« Reply #12 on: Yesterday at 02:07 PM »

Yeah, its not black and white for me. I don't form an opinion until I hear it in a quintet setting. Sometimes it works, other times notbso much. Same vice versa. I wouldn't bother bringing both a bass trombone and tuba player to a quintet performance though, regardless of the rep. I would expect the quintet to make a decision on which one and pick the most appropriate music accordingly.

Yes indeed.

Chris Stearn
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« Reply #13 on: Yesterday at 02:12 PM »

Speaking from a composer's point of view, if I write something for a  tuba it is because I hear a tuba in that part.  There is a lot of difference between tuba and bass bone and when the play together in unison or octaves, it is a fabulous sound.  If you don't have a tuba player, that's one thing but I would urge you to try and find one.  Bass bone on a tuba part is for emergencies only as far as I am concerned.  Just my 2 cents.  Clever
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« Reply #14 on: Yesterday at 02:38 PM »

I rather listen to a bass trombone playing the tuba part than vice versa. The "Fine Arts" brass quintet lead by trumpeter Anthony Plog used a bass trombone instead of a tuba and it sounded all right.  As others have said some repertoire does not apply to a change at all.  I don't think the  Victor Ewald quintets would be fun listening without a tuba playing the tuba parts, but generally as a SOUND I do prefer the bass trombone sound to the tuba sound. Same with the euphonium or baritone. As a sound I do prefer the trombone, but in the "Planets" by Gustav Holst I can not be without it. There are lots of other examples where the composer had a clear vision. In those situations it is  obvious he really wanted the tuba or the euphonium sound. It just is not possible to replace, and then there is no substitute for that sound. What I think!!!

/Tom
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« Reply #15 on: Yesterday at 03:12 PM »

Yeah, I can certainly do that for you, but it won't be anywhere near the effect produced by a tuba.
If it's a choice between a bass trombone on the part and dead air, the bass trombone wins pretty much every time. If, OTOH, you're being asked to play the tuba part when there is a competent tuba sitting right there? Gotta wonder 'bout that. OTOOH, that approach works pretty well on some genres. Concert band arrangements of pop/rock tunes, for example (been there, done that - many times).

Of course, I'm not getting a check or a grade when I play. A very different world from the one in which some the posters to this thread dwell.
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« Reply #16 on: Yesterday at 05:48 PM »

I have a slightly different [and cynical] take on using the proper instrument on the proper part. Waaaaayyyyy back in the 70's I played a run of Wagner's "Die Walkyrie" with Antal Dorati conducting.  The NSO was in the pit at the Kennedy Center Opera House and the regular Opera House Orchestra shifted over to the Kennedy Center Concert Hall to play a run of "Children's Concerts" that the NSO typically did at that time of year.  I was assigned the contrabass trombone part and thought I would use my cimbasso on which to play the part.  I always had a really solid pedal register on bass trombone but when I mentioned my idea of playing the part on cimbasso to management, I was told that it wouldn't be necessary because they felt I covered the contrabass part perfectly well on bass trombone.  We ALL know the difference it would have made to have a cimbasso on that part, but the decision to disallow was made on one factor ---- they were too CHEAP to pay the Union "doubling fee" that would be mandated had I used the cimbasso.  That is the cold truth !  I always called it "The Bean Counter's Revenge" !
   As to the Kennedy Center Opera Orchestra being assigned the NSO "dirty work" --- were they happy about it ?  NO they were not !  The NSO understood that we were usurping possibly their only chance to play this iconic work, and they were totally capable of doing a great job of performing it, but Maestro Dorati refused to mount the production without "His" orchestra that he knew and trusted.  That is why it is called "The Music Business" ---- NOT "The Art of Making Music" !    Cheers to all !!   Bob
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« Reply #17 on: Yesterday at 06:03 PM »

At least the accountants hadn't gotten to the part of paring "redundant string players" Evil

I remember Steve Norrell telling me that he was playing a bass trombone for the Wagner contra parts in the Met at the request of Levine.  Another case.
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« Reply #18 on: Today at 01:20 AM »

Speaking from a composer's point of view, if I write something for a  tuba it is because I hear a tuba in that part.  There is a lot of difference between tuba and bass bone and when the play together in unison or octaves, it is a fabulous sound.  If you don't have a tuba player, that's one thing but I would urge you to try and find one.  Bass bone on a tuba part is for emergencies only as far as I am concerned.  Just my 2 cents.  Clever

Yes I agree, the combination of tuba and bass bone can be wonderful, complimenting each other nicely. Maybe I notice the absence of tuba more, being part of the low brass.
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« Reply #19 on: Today at 02:59 AM »

 :-0 :-0 :-0 :-0
ha ha    --tried  doing  tuba on a 72h  this week at rehearsal -- Amazed Amazed Amazed Amazed
concert music ---a humbling experience  for sure  -i sucked totally  got dizzy  --
switched to 547 for concert  --but did  get in a few licks   on  some tuba  charts !!!!!!!!!
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