Re: Re: What's the best?

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Posted by Rick Denney on July 30, 2002 at 11:56:54:

In Reply to: Re: What's the best? posted by Tracy M. Luna on July 29, 2002 at 23:04:33:

What a humorless crowd we have these days!

In fact, they were using humor not as stray chatter but to make a point. That point is that defining "best" is impossible, because there is no agreement on the objective that is to be met. Even using the word "best" in the context of tubas demonstrates naivete (or, perhaps, a little mischieviousness).

If we could define the objectives in specific terms, then we could perform a test and determine what is best. One objective is a "good sound". Your good sound may be my rhinoceros mating call, and vice versa (that was humor--you can laugh). Another objective is good pitch. Is that a tuba that slots notes accurately without the good ears of the player, or a tuba that bends to the will of a good player while maintaining a well-centered sound? Most gifted musicians would prefer the latter, and the rest of us would need the former.

Another objective is good ergonomics. Unfortunately, everyone is different here, too. Mary Ann can't tolerate my favorite F tuba (a Yamaha) because the valves are too far apart for her small hands. Her solution space is therefore different from mine or yours. Another objective is quality construction, and here we might be able to make some headway. But maybe not--is quality construction measured in durability (a Conn 2xJ), repairability (a Miraphone 186), beauty (a Rudy, or even a Kalison), attention to decorative detail (nothing newer than about 50 years), fast and reliable valves (Nirschl), or consistency (Yamaha)?

Yet another objective is the music itself. What is appropriate for a particular piece of music, and a particular setting? Surely these vary all over the place. What is appropriate for Shostakovich would be a disaster for Berlioz. What works in a major orchestra would potentially overwhelm a quintet.

Still another objective is cost. A tuba that provides a higher price/performance ratio is a better tuba, at least to this engineer who is evaluated on doing things cheaply in addition to doing them well.

So, you see that defining best is just impossible because so many objectives can only be measured subjectively in terms that are not generally agreed, and because so many objectives cannot be measured uniformly across all players.

Rick "who thinks the best answer isn't always the most direct answer" Denney

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