tuba (tōˈbə) [key] [Lat., = trumpet], valved brass wind musical instrument of wide conical bore. The term tuba is applied rather loosely to any low-pitched brass instrument other than the trombone; such instruments vary in size, and are known by various names. The contrabass tuba, which is most common, plays in the same range as the double bass. The helicon and sousaphone are contrabass tubas used in marching bands; they coil around the player and rest on the left shoulder. The baritone and euphonium are small tubas, mainly band instruments, pitched the same as the trombone. Wagner secured the tuba's place in the orchestra in the mid-19th cent. He called for three differently pitched instruments for his Ring cycle. The Wagner tuba is a narrow-bore tuba with a French-horn mouthpiece. Tubas appeared first in Berlin in the 1820s, soon after the invention of the valve. They were soon accepted into the band and orchestra, displacing the serpent, ophicleide, and other such instruments of poorer tone quality and intonation.
See C. Bevan, The Tuba Family (1978).
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