Re: Bass vs Contrabass

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Posted by Rick Denney on January 30, 2001 at 12:55:25:

In Reply to: Bass vs Contrabass posted by Payne on January 30, 2001 at 12:36:38:

According to the traditional German taxonomy, a bass tuba is pitched in F or Eb and a contrabass tuba is pitched in CC or BBb. Most folks use those terms in the traditional way, though the term "bass tuba" can be a more general term. For example, Wick mouthpieces are labelled "Bass Tuba", even though I'm sure they are aware that people will use their Model 1 or 2 mouthpieces in contrabass tubas.

The use of double letters pertains to an old scheme of denoting octaves, where the lowest C on the piano was called CCC, and going up from there, CC, C, c, c', and so on. There have been other schemes, too. In the tuba world we don't really use the scheme properly. For example, BBb and CC would not be in the same octave in the old scheme, but we commonly use those terms for contrabass tubas to distinguish them from C tubas (as in Small French Tuba) and Bb tubas (as in tenor tubas in the German tradition). The latter two designations are archaic, and there's no real reason not to call them Bb and C contrabass tubas, other than tradition. Boosey and Hawkes uses the term "EEb" to describe their compensating Eb tuba, even though it is pitched the same as any other Eb tuba, to illustrate the increase low range provided by the compensation system.

If you use the terms "C tuba," "Bb tuba," "Eb tuba," and "F tuba" everyone will know what you are talking about.

Rick "who prefers specific terms like: 'That Big Sucker'" Denney

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