Standard trill

A traditional trill is the rapid alternation between two tones no more than a whole step apart.

Pitch range. Same as ordinario; whole-step trills become increasingly tricky and precarious in the highest register, where partials are so close together that slight fluctuations in embouchure result in a change or even failure of pitch. It should also be noted that some combinations may be more difficult for trilling based on a player’s manual dexterity.

Dynamic range. Same as ordinario.

Maximum speed. As fast as valve can be moved: approximately 12 per second.

Bisbigliando (timbral trill)

 

A bisbigliando is the rapid alternation between two fingerings of the same pitch. These often have slight differences in timbre, resulting in a timbral trill. There is also the inherent rhythmic element of changing air flow with every switch of fingering. On the tuba, this results in valve noise, which can be diminished/augmented with an appropriate direction to the player. There is also a slight variation in pitch between many such alternate fingerings.

Pitch range. Availability depends on tuning and number of valves. Generally speaking, more trills become available in the middle register and upward, as more alternate fingerings naturally occur. Timbral trills in the lower range tend to produce a sloppier result.

Dynamic range. Same as ordinario, though at lowest dynamics, valve noise overshadows pitch; timbral trills are generally easier at higher dynamic levels.

Maximum speed. As fast as valve can be moved: approximately 12 per second.

Practice tip(s). Depending on the difference in number of valves for each fingering, there can occur a (significant) change in resistance to the air stream. One should keep in mind the possibility that one may need to increase the air pressure put into the horn (i.e., beyond that required for one fingering, so as to account for the other).

Tremolo

A tremolo is the rapid alternation between two tones more than a whole step apart. One can use this technique on a tuba, though with less agility than on a smaller instrument (e.g., trumpet), as there is so much more sound to “move.”

Pitch range. Same as ordinario, though more difficult (a) as partials get closer together and (b) with larger intervals.

Dynamic range. Same as ordinario.

Maximum speed. Same as trill, though accuracy is less certain.

Practice tip(s). It is important to emphasize the top note of the tremolo (i.e., to make the top note the focal point), as it is much easier to slur down than up, and tremolo necessarily involves both.