The tuba is an instrument with an upright cup. You can compare this with a glass of water with the opening at the top. Hence the term cup. A tuba often has 3 valves and in some cases four, five or six. The valves are the “buttons” on the instrument. You press this to change the tone. In principle, the tube you use is extended by the valve you press. This results in you lowering the tone. The note of the instrument changes per valve and per combination of valves. This can be with a whole, half or quarter note.
Mistakes about the tuba.
There are some mistakes about the tuba. So if you want to buy a tuba you have to be careful not to make one. Regardless of the fact that it is good to be informed by an expert anyway. Here is a tip. The word tuba is in fact widely used as a category. Of course there are several instruments linked to the tuba. But it is certainly not a category. The relatives of the tuba are for example the euphonium, the sousaphone and the Horn. All stand-alone instruments that are related to, but not tuba. You can put them under the tuba “family”.
The sousaphoneis the largest of the Tuba “family”. It is made for walking. In construction, the use during marching has been taken into account. Hence, the sousaphone hangs around your neck while playing. Another name for a sousaphone is ring bass.
Origin of the sousaphone
The first sousaphones were commissioned by Mr. John Sousa. This man is one of the most famous marching conductors in the world. He was also called “the marching king”. The first sousaphones were developed with the bell facing up. This produced a less popping sound than with the bell forward. This was initially the intention. Later they only found out that it was totally impractical with the rain. Such an upright cup was filled with rain and then no pure note came out.
Characteristics of a sousaphone.
Sousaphones are built very durable. They last a long time and are very sturdy. A dent here or there will not affect the sound much, if at all. The standard sousaphone has a cup opening of 66 cm. This has varied somewhat over the years. There have been larger and smaller sizes but this remains the standard. It is also standard that this instrument is equipped with three valves. An exceptional case has four. The classic copper sousaphone is between 15 and 20 kilos. Not a light instrument. There are a number of plastic solutions that make playing a bit easier. This will always be at the expense of the warm sound of a sousaphone.
The tuba and sousaphone are both instruments used during the march. you can also find them in other styles. Think of Polka or Carnival music. You have them in different moods. The mood depends on the orchestra you play in and what your role will be. They are the somewhat larger and heavier instruments in the wind segment. Both are of course played with a separate mouthpiece. Here you also have different options and are chosen according to the wishes of the blazer himself.