ContemporaryTuba.com is an online catalogue describing tuba performance techniques that might be found in contemporary music. The information here is compiled and presented by tubist Jonathan Piper and composer Brian Griffeath-Loeb, and was inspired by our longstanding collaboration. The presentation of each technique is intended to be of value to composer and performer alike, with an emphasis on idiomatic and phenomenological concerns.
This catalogue is not intended to be authoritative or complete; rather, it represents the techniques that we found to be valuable in our work and the information that we learned in their exploration. We welcome comments, suggestions, questions, and even submissions. Our hope is to encourage the use of these techniques – and the development of others – for the tuba, an extremely versatile and oft-underutilized instrument.
A note on organization:
Techniques are distributed among seven different categories: Traditional, Embouchure, Tongue, Lungs, Valves, Hardware, Miscellaneous. Their order is driven by a sense of extending “outward” from the performer. After Traditional, we begin with Embouchure, perhaps the most intimate and fundamental component in tuba performance. We then have Tongue and Lungs, progressively more distant, then Valves, which, while still firmly connected to the performer, is the first category outside the body. After that is Hardware, implying an inexact exterior category. Finally, Miscellaneous, to capture things that aren’t necessarily of the body or the tuba itself.
NB: Some techniques appear under multiple categories. (For instance, vibrato—a fixture of conventional tuba performance practice—is listed as traditional. The technique is produced by manipulation of either the jaw or diaphragm and so likewise appears in embouchure and lungs, respectively.) Our reasoning is that while performance catalogs can be useful, they also risk a mindset abstracted from physical bodies—human and instrumental. Redundancy in our text reflects a conscious effort to resist this. We hope that, by drawing attention to the forces at work, to the intersections of anatomy, physiology, and engineering, this catalog equips the reader to more skillfully explore its contents.