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Why Is It Called A Tuba?


john carter

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The subject of Tubas often comes up in this forum, but why do we call a Tuba stop a Tuba? At 8ft. the compass of the organ Tuba is quite different from its orchestral namesake. The Euphonium seems to be a closer relation to the organ Tuba, but I'm not aware of this name being used anywhere. Does anyone know the reason why the term Tuba was adopted?

JC

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The subject of Tubas often comes up in this forum, but why do we call a Tuba stop a Tuba? At 8ft. the compass of the organ Tuba is quite different from its orchestral namesake. The Euphonium seems to be a closer relation to the organ Tuba, but I'm not aware of this name being used anywhere. Does anyone know the reason why the term Tuba was adopted?

JC

 

It's Latin and means a war trumpet. One might well ask why an orchestral tuba is called thus....that might be a question for tuba-l, however.

 

Cheers

B

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The subject of Tubas often comes up in this forum, but why do we call a Tuba stop a Tuba? At 8ft. the compass of the organ Tuba is quite different from its orchestral namesake. The Euphonium seems to be a closer relation to the organ Tuba, but I'm not aware of this name being used anywhere. Does anyone know the reason why the term Tuba was adopted?

JC

 

Interesting question, which could be applied to so many organ stops. At All Saints' in Cheltenham (my place) the 1887 Hill organ was built with an enclosed tuba8' which rings out gloriously; not at all leathery and dull. Around the turn of the C19/C20 a reed was added to the great-on heavy pressure called Euphonium 8'. An article in "The ORgan" of the 1940s by H. Byard, then organist, (can't remember which-I'm at school at the moment) mentions this stop and how it too rang out. He likened it to a small Harrison tuba. There is still a heavy pressure reed on the great (on it's own chest) but named tromba8'; it is large in scale. Unfortunately it sits in the roof of the organ chamber and doesn't really make the impact that it could. Is it the euphonium renamed by Nicholsons in their rebuild of the 1950s- I don't know.

 

F-W

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The subject of Tubas often comes up in this forum, but why do we call a Tuba stop a Tuba? At 8ft. the compass of the organ Tuba is quite different from its orchestral namesake. The Euphonium seems to be a closer relation to the organ Tuba, but I'm not aware of this name being used anywhere. Does anyone know the reason why the term Tuba was adopted?

JC

I don't know, but would guess that the answer relates on the one hand to the relative stridency of the tone produced rather than its compass, and on the other to greater awareness of the tuba than the euphonium.

 

The trumpet, baritone and trombone of the orchestra or wind band have a cylindrical bore, and tend more towards a blaring sound. On the other hand, the cornet, euphonium and tuba have a conical bore, which gives a more mellow tone. With the typical (organ) tuba generally being rather close toned, I expect that it was felt to be more reminiscent of conical bore instruments than of cylindrical bore instruments. Hence either tuba or euphonium might have been adopted. However, in my experience, many fewer people are familiar with the euphonium than the tuba; and some think of it as a tenor tuba in any case. Tuba may have been chosen because it was a sufficiently well known name for the type of instrument

 

The question of compass in the organ definitely seems to be a moot one - see the thread "Pedal Note Naming Conventions" - and I think that the best that can be said is that the fact that the compass of an orchestral instrument and its would-be organ counterpart did not match was never a deterrent to the name being used.

 

Come to think of it, there may be another reason too - the name euphonium, or at least something close to it, may already have been in use. I don't know when it was first adopted, but the name euphone has occasionally used for a free-reed stop. Cavaillé-Coll's magnum opus at St-Sulpice (dating from 1862) has a euphone in the Positif, and the name was at least known amongst organ builders at that time. It may have been in use earlier. If this is the case, it may have been a deterrent to adoption for (what was to become known as) the tuba. Then again, it's easy to think of stops under the same name that can have very different tonalities. I know of two organs, only a few kms apart, one of which has an almost principal-sounding gemshorn as the major 4' Swell flue, and the other of which has a very mild 8' gemshorn of quity stringy tone. So perhaps it might not have been such a deterrent after all. (That's hedging my bets for you!)

 

Rgds,

MJF

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The orchestral tuba was, I believe invented in the 1830s, but how long did it take for it to become a familiar member of the orchestra? As for the organ stop, the encyclopedia implies that the stop is older than the name. I would assume that, as the tuba ousted the ophicleide from orchestras, so the name caught the imagination of organ builders. But of course I am only idly speculating.

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The orchestral tuba was, I believe invented in the 1830s, but how long did it take for it to become a familiar member of the orchestra? As for the organ stop, the encyclopedia implies that the stop is older than the name. I would assume that, as the tuba ousted the ophicleide from orchestras, so the name caught the imagination of organ builders. But of course I am only idly speculating.

It was Birmingham Town Hall, wasn't it, where the first high pressure reed was installed? So what was it called then? Sounds like it wouldn't have be named tuba from the outset. You could well be right, Vox.

 

Rgds,

MJF

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To which tuba do you refer, Pierre? The true tuba? Or of the instrument which bears his name - the Wagner tuba, which is more closely related to the horns?

 

Rgds,

MJF

 

I refer to the Wagner Tuba, yes. This could have been

evoked by the name, like "Zauberflöte" evoked Mozart.

 

Pierre

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It was Birmingham Town Hall, wasn't it, where the first high pressure reed was installed? So what was it called then? Sounds like it wouldn't have be named tuba from the outset. You could well be right, Vox.

 

Rgds,

MJF

 

 

===================

 

I'm not quite sure if I can bring any great historical scholarship to bear here (or any at all), but didn't the 1840's (?) instrument by Wm.Hill, at Great George St., Congregationals, Liverpool, have a Tuba on a modestly increased pressure?

 

I suspect that the link between organ and Tuba owes much to the "German" phase in both British music and British organ-building, which covered the realtively brief period around 1840-55. I seem to recall (you just know I'm being very lazy here), that the horizontal reed at Leeds TH, of a similar period by Gray & Davison, was named "Ophicleide".

 

The fact is, Birmingham was immensely influential in musical terms, with many first performances of great works; some of which were conducted by the composers themselves. At the time, Birmingham was one of the great industrial power-houses of of the world, and one to which many aspired as visiting artists etc.

 

So if Wagner, Mendelssohn, Beethoven and Brahms dominated music, and one of them made extensive use of the Tuba,(and even had a version of the instrument named after him), it would, I think, have been entirely appropriate to call a new, powerful, smooth-toned reed stop "Tuba".

 

The Americans, rather more sensibly, discovered the chamade; thanks I believe, to Jardine, who had nicked the idea from Gray & Davison and taken it across the pond; possibly around the same time.

 

MM

 

PS: I hate Tubas

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The Tuba stop had me fooled initially since I had assumed that it would be a 16' stop. After all, a Tuba is bound to be lower than a Trumpet isn't it! So when I came to play the CS Lang Tuba Tune on an organ with only a Trumpet 8', I thought I'd do the decent thing and play the solo part an 8ve lower. It felt a bit odd with the hands cross over, but seemed to work.

 

My mis-understanding continued despite attending a registration workshop last year where we were discussing how to adapt the specific registration requirements to organs of limited means. I mentioned my approach to the Tuba problem and and was greeted with blank looks all round. It was only some time later that I realised the reason. Oh well, you can't win them all.

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It was Birmingham Town Hall, wasn't it, where the first high pressure reed was installed? So what was it called then? Sounds like it wouldn't have be named tuba from the outset. You could well be right, Vox.

I was merely going by what it said in my link: "The closed-toned variety was developed in England, first introduced in 1825 under the name Ophicleide by William Hill, and later perfected by Henry Willis". But this isn't my field at all, at all; I know nothing. :rolleyes:

Nah. Chamades are a modern excuse to put the wind up Liz as she makes her Queeny entrance...

You only get that chance once....

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"our modern "Look at me, I crave your attention" society of today."

(Quote)

 

Today? Does the Tuba stop belong to the modern organ ?

Does your definition not apply to Chamades instead ?

 

Pierre :P

 

No - Chamade ranks were around a long time before Tuba stops. One only has to think of a few Spanish instruments to realise this.

 

If one does wish to have a Tuba stop, there are many more musical examples than that at Downside which, to my ears, demonstrated all that I hate about this class of stop. It was dull, opaque, it 'honked' and had little or no harmonic development. There are far better tubas than this.

 

This, of course, is no reflection on the performer, whose playing was of an impeccably high standard.

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No - Chamade ranks were around a long time before Tuba stops. One only has to think of a few Spanish instruments to realise this.

 

If one does wish to have a Tuba stop, there are many more musical examples than that at Downside which, to my ears, demonstrated all that I hate about this class of stop. It was dull, opaque, it 'honked' and had little or no harmonic development. There are far better tubas than this.

 

This, of course, is no reflection on the performer, whose playing was of an impeccably high standard.

 

Indeed: the chamades became common in Spain in the 18th century -as detail stops,

not decibel providers-.

 

You may dislike that Tuba, I may be found of it... :P

(No problem with tastes!)

 

Pierre

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You may dislike that Tuba, I may be found of it... :P

(No problem with tastes!)

 

Pierre

 

I have no problem with this either, per se - although I can still think of more musical examples than that which was linked in your sound-file.

 

:P

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Come to think of it, there may be another reason too - the name euphonium, or at least something close to it, may already have been in use. I don't know when it was first adopted, but the name euphone has occasionally used for a free-reed stop. Cavaillé-Coll's magnum opus at St-Sulpice (dating from 1862) has a euphone in the Positif, and the name was at least known amongst organ builders at that time. It may have been in use earlier. If this is the case, it may have been a deterrent to adoption for (what was to become known as) the tuba. Then again, it's easy to think of stops under the same name that can have very different tonalities. I know of two organs, only a few kms apart, one of which has an almost principal-sounding gemshorn as the major 4' Swell flue, and the other of which has a very mild 8' gemshorn of quity stringy tone. So perhaps it might not have been such a deterrent after all. (That's hedging my bets for you!)

 

Did Binns use this on some of his organs. I remember one of his 4 manual organs had an Euphonium 8' on the Pedal. I forget which organ it is but someone else may have an idea.

 

(sorry if I have repeated this, only just looked at the topic today)

 

JA

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The Tuba stop had me fooled initially since I had assumed that it would be a 16' stop. After all, a Tuba is bound to be lower than a Trumpet isn't it! So when I came to play the CS Lang Tuba Tune on an organ with only a Trumpet 8', I thought I'd do the decent thing and play the solo part an 8ve lower. It felt a bit odd with the hands cross over, but seemed to work.

 

My mis-understanding continued despite attending a registration workshop last year where we were discussing how to adapt the specific registration requirements to organs of limited means. I mentioned my approach to the Tuba problem and and was greeted with blank looks all round. It was only some time later that I realised the reason. Oh well, you can't win them all.

 

Bet you could't get away with that with Norman Cocker! :P

 

Peter

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I have no problem with this either, per se - although I can still think of more musical examples than that which was linked in your sound-file.

 

:P

 

-Again- what means "musical" ?

We may understand that differently, because it refers

to taste, not facts.

 

Pierre

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