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date: 19 October 2019

Wagner tubalocked

  • Raymond Bryant
  • , revised by Anthony C. Baines
  •  and John Webb

Extract

A special kind of tuba devised by Wagner for the Ring with the object of bridging the gap between the horns and trombones. In the Ring Wagner scored for a set of four of these instruments, to be played by an extra quartet of horn players who alternate between the two instruments as the part directs. The quartet consists of two tenor tubas in B♭, played by the fifth and seventh horn players, and two bass tubas in F, played by the sixth and eighth players. These two pitches are the same as horns in B♭ alto and F.

The main body of the modern instrument is elliptical, like most German tenor horns, with the bell emerging from the top at a slightly oblique angle, while the lower end almost rests on the player's lap In the centre of this ellipse are the four rotary valves which are manipulated by the fingers of the left hand, the fourth valve lowering the pitch by a perfect 4th. The conical bore increases steadily throughout the whole length and terminates in a small bell (thus differing from the horn, whose bore increases very slowly up to the last 30 cm of its length, when it flares out suddenly into a bell, the diameter of which measures over 5 cm more than that of the tuba)....

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