Sound character of the Bass tuba - Philipp Dangas

Register table of the bass tuba

Bass tuba register table graphic can be enlarged. It is Link-Sensitive [Clickable].

heet music for the register table of the bass tuba

There is a fundamental sound difference between the cylindrical and the cup mouthpiece instruments (tubas). The sound of the slim-bore, cylindrical cup-mouthpiece instruments is sharply contoured, particularly when the instrument is blown in with high overtones and is therefore metallic and luminous.

The conical tubular scale of the bugle horns prevents the formation of higher natural tones, both in the practice technique and in the sound. All bugle horns blown with a cup mouthpiece have a sustainable but lackluster tone. The contrabass tuba and the bass tuba are an exception - but under very specific conditions. The large tube size of the instruments particularly favors the development of the deep tones of the bass register, so that the sound acquires a special fullness, warmth and softness. The prerequisite is that the tone is under no circumstances forced.

As part of the „symphonic world music“

The bass tuba is responsible for the execution of the funtamental bass in the orchestra and should not be regarded as a means of making noise. The sound of the tuba when it is not forced, i.e. in pianissimo [pp] piano [p] and mezzoforte [mz], is of extraordinary richness, softness and warmth and at the same time a continuation of the horn sound towards the depths.

Audio sample of the sound of the bass tuba
[Music composer: Dmitri Shostakovich]
Download size: 173 kilobytes
The registers and timbres of the bass tuba
Register Sound character Range (from – to)
high register With each dynamic forcing towards the high register, becoming drier and less resonant e 1 [middle octave] —
g [minor octave]
middle register In Pianissimo [ pp ] and Piano [ p ] horn-like,
in Mezzoforte [ mz ] coarse and dull-sounding
f [minor octave] —
Ges [major octave]
low register coarse and dull-sounding F [major octave] —
F1 [contra octave]
lowest register Only possible with instruments with very wide bores good tone response. E1 [contra octave] —
Des1 [contra octave]

Dynamic effect of the bass tuba

Bass tuba dynamic table graphic can be enlarged. It is Link-Sensitive [Clickable].

Sheet music for the dynamic table of the bass tuba

Clearly recognizable is in the dynamic table the specification of the degrees of strength of musical dynamics. In addition to the sound pressure scale measured in decibels [dB], the degrees of strength of musical dynamics are given on the left, which can be understood as "objective" degrees.

The decibel scale is shown in a graph. It shows the estimated dynamic effect over the entire tonal range of the instrument. The dynamic effect (volume) as judged (perceived) by the listener.

Now an example: In the low register of the trumpet the dynamic range is between pianissimo [pp] 46 decibels [dB] and fortissimo [ff] 82 decibels [dB] = 36 decibels [dB]. In the high register, the range is 8 decibels [dB]. The estimated values can deviate more or less from the "objective" ones.

As a result, the deviations from instrument to instrument are fundamentally different. The mentioned "objective" levels of intensity piano pianissimo [ppp]= 40 decibels [dB], p=60 decibels [dB] etc. enable the composer to predict the dynamic effects of different instruments that are sounding simultaneously.

The achievable dynamic range of the bass tuba - 28-30 decibels [dB]
Degree of intensity high position low position
fortissimo [ ff ] 100 81
pianissimo [ pp ] 70 53