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Thread: Why BBb?

  1. Why BBb?

    Why are they called BBb and not Bb?

  2. #2

    Why BBb?

    I'm sure there is a musical theory type reason, but in plain language BBb indicates an octave lower than Bb. Now, as to why a trumpet is not called a 1/2-Bb, I can't explain that!

    And a bit of trivia... There are a few BBBb tubas sitting around that are pitched an octave lower than a BBb tuba. Makes a great way to test for asthma

    Dave Werden (ASCAP)
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  3. #3

    Why BBb?

    Because the fundamental Note is the Bb below Bb, therefore Double Bb

  4. #4

    Why BBb?

    In the UK it dates back to the turn of the last century.

    The term double B flat (and E flat of course) referred to a full 4v compensating instrument, usually of larger bore/bell design, as opposed to a student/school/cheaper range of instruments (by the same maker) that were just 3v and of lighter construction.

    This term took over from the old 'Bombardon' and 'Profundo' tuba names previously.


  5. Why BBb?

    Then why aren't F Tubas called FF tubas?

  6. Why BBb?

    I expect that the guide is middle C. Therefore, an F or an Eb tuba would be designated by a single number. BBb is the second Bb below middle C. However, a CC tuba is the first C below, but is below so...or, maybe it is because the F and Eb are refered to as bass tubas, and CC and BBb are contra bass tubas...don't know what we'd call the BBBb except, like Dave suggested, the asthma tester.

    Slight hijack here, I have never gotten an explaination as to why there are C, F, G and Bb instruments. Why is the tuning note on a trumpet/horn/Eb alto sax and a euphonium (all a concert Bb I might add) written as a C, F, G and Bb respectively? Can't a note just be a note?

    And given all that, note that players of tubas pitched in C, F, Eb and Bb simply learn different fingerings instead of having "parts" written for them?

  7. #7

    Why BBb?

    Getting back to Highams observation; perhaps the term is just an analogy to the "double" used to describe french horns. The analogy being to the compensating tubing.

    - Carroll

  8. Why BBb?

    I'm not sure it is the similarity of the horn and compensating tubas. First off, there are very few compensating tubas (at least on my side of the pond), and even a 3 valve non-comp is still called a BBb tuba. And when I played the horn, I never thought of it as a Bb/F, it was just some easier, alternate fingerings for notes...same as I do with the 4th valve on my tuba.

  9. Why BBb?

    I think it's a way to identify the range of the instrument. It doesn't make sense to me that it identifies the "Fundamental" pitch (the open lowest note whose next 'possible' open note above it is the octave above). Isn't the BBb Tuba fundamental pitch at least 3 Bb's below middle "C"? Maybe it's the 1st partial that BBb refers.

    On the horn: as bearphonium suggests, the double horn is "taught" as a single instrument in F (you just learn the Bb side & fingerings as an extension of the F horn on the "high" side). However, one can pull the (thumb) trigger and play it as a straight Bb instrument which is pitched exactly as a regular 3 valve baritone. Some of the fingerings get goofy (actually, it's the trumpet fingerings in the lower range for "both" normal octaves) and you will play on some "false" tones, but the horn is amenable to (wildly) bending pitches... sometimes when you don't want to.

    One of my church tricks is to play the tenor or base line directly from a hymnal by pulling the trigger and playing it like a Baritone in Bass clef (because of the built-in 1 step transposition). Very handy when an unanticipated hymn gets thrown in. It also works to use the trumpet transposition (up a step) for the alto line while playing the true Bb side. Once you shift up to the melody, it's easier to play it "straight" and use the regular horn fingerings with up a 5th transposition as most hymns dance around the top of the horn's normal range when transposed and voiced where they belong.

  10. Why BBb?

    Originally posted by: bearphonium...why there are C, F, G and Bb instruments...and Bb simply learn different fingerings...
    The instrument "pitch" refers to the harmonic series that the open instrument produces "naturally".The different pitched instruments came from the need (before valves) to play notes that weren't available on a single series of instruments pitched in a single key.Brass instruments have "settled" mostly on the Bb series (with valves), except for the F Horn which produces its distinctive sound "best" when pitched in that key. The "double" side of the Double Horn is also pitched in Bb but you learn the fingerings as if they were in "F" (for convenience). The rest of the normal brass series has also developed to produce their distinctive "sounds" in the appropriate Bb series ranges.On the different fingerings... that's exactly how the Base clef Euphonium/Baritone is done. One learns base clef fingerings for the Euph/Bari on Concert pitch instead of the "natural" Bb series. Euphonium/Baritone folks learn a different fingering for "C" in the base clef than they do for the same "C" written in treble clef. It's a Bb harmonic series instrument regardless of fingering tricks.There are a lot of brass instruments on other harmonic series to fill niche rolls, but they don't dominate the numbers like the Bb brass do. Eb is a natural 2nd harmonic series for brass since it's an even 5th up from Bb... soprano trumpet... Alto horn... Tuba.... makes some of the technical sections easier if you have them available.

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