Damn you 1812 overture!

Discussion in 'Ask Michael Dimin' started by Freaky Fender, Jan 17, 2005.

  1. Hello Michael. I thought you could answer this fairly well, as it's just a small question...

    In concert band I was given the Tuba part to the 1812 overture. The problem is that there are some notes way below the staff, so low I need a 7 string to reach them! I'm faced with a dilemma. Learn and transpose the parts up and octave on the fly, or re-write the music for my range. What do you suggest?
  2. hateater

    hateater snatch canadian cream

    May 4, 2001
    Eugene, OR
    I am no pro- but I went through the same thing when I was first given classical sheet music! Check it out- if they are chords with one note in your range, you can play that note, or you can move everything up an octave (but if you screw up... you're toast!).
  3. Mike Dimin

    Mike Dimin

    Dec 11, 1999
    Clinician: EA, Zon, Boomerang, TI. Author "The Art of Solo Bass"
    I would take the time to rewrite the part in your range. Either that or buy a 7 string (what the heck :D )

  4. Bassist4Life


    Dec 17, 2004
    Buffalo, NY
    Freaky Fender,

    There is good news for you if you rewrite your part up one-octave like Mike has suggested. The Tuba is a non-transposing instrument, which means, the note you see on the page is the note that you will hear when it is played by a tuba. The bass is a transposing instrument. The notes that you read and play with your bass sound one-octave lower than written.

    So, if you were to get a bass with an extended lower range (B or F# strings), you would actually be playing one-octave too low. To play those below the staff tuba notes on bass correctly, you should write them up one-octave to compensate for the transposition of your instrument. The range of the tuba is 2 D's below the bass clef (5 ledger lines) all the way up to a G above the staff (3 ledger lines). If your tuba part goes down to the low D, the most you would need to do is tune your E string down to a D.

    I used to play in a couple of wind ensembles and they would usually give me a tuba part. It took me some time, but I got used to reading those low notes up an octave on the bass. At first, I would color in a black dot one-octave above the low notes because there wasn't a lot of preparation time during the rehearsal. The rhythms were easy to read, even in that range, but the black dot helped me adapt the pitches faster.