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Did Bill Monroe ever have a tuba in his band?

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Jun 30, 2022 - 4:53:13 AM

phb

Germany

3404 posts since 11/8/2010

Yesterday we had a nice jam session going in a public place. A tuba player passed by on his bicycle and stopped. We invited him into the session and he played some very nice bass parts and also breaks. Did Bill Monroe ever have a tuba player?

Jun 30, 2022 - 5:32:13 AM
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92 posts since 6/18/2017

Pretty sure not.

Jun 30, 2022 - 5:41:54 AM
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4500 posts since 5/29/2011

I have seen an early picture of his band with an accordion in it, but never a tuba.

Jun 30, 2022 - 6:30:56 AM
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9784 posts since 8/28/2013

I believe he had a few Tu-ba-phones in his group.

Jun 30, 2022 - 7:09:37 AM
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ChunoTheDog

Canada

1588 posts since 8/9/2019

No but he did have an accordion with him in the early years.

Jun 30, 2022 - 7:09:49 AM
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ChunoTheDog

Canada

1588 posts since 8/9/2019

quote:
Originally posted by Culloden

I have seen an early picture of his band with an accordion in it, but never a tuba.


beat me to it!

Jun 30, 2022 - 7:11:18 AM

phb

Germany

3404 posts since 11/8/2010

I knew about the accordion but I wasn't entirely sure about the tuba. It makes a good substitute for a bass.

Jun 30, 2022 - 8:04:05 AM
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14836 posts since 10/30/2008

Actually, I think it's correct to say that historically the bass fiddle "took the place" of the tuba, at least in pop/folk music. In the ragtime era and marching bands and concert bands in the 19th century, the tuba predominated as the bass instrument. Listen to early jazz and Dixieland -- tuba is the bass instrument. This music grew out of marching band and concert/dance band music (This is a gross oversimplification.) Bass fiddles were not cheap factory made plywood instruments until the early 20th century and were not as portable as tubas (that's saying something). I have it on pretty good authority from Nashville friends that the bass fiddle entered country string band music from bass players on the riverboat networks. They had only recently displaced the tuba in small stationary bands.

I know from my high school bass fiddle playing in the school band, that the sheet music for tuba and bass fiddle are the same. I couldn't read music at speed, but the band director stood me beside the tuba player and said "use her sheet music".

You are correct that a tuba can make a great bass foundation even for a string band -- if it's played quietly.

John Philip Sousa's concerts often included a "comic" duet of tuba and piccolo on a number called "The Elephant and the Flea". Prodigious feat of tuba playing.

Monroe kept a special number up his sleeve called "Trombolin". He explained it was a whole 'nother kind of music from bluegrass. And he said if he could get a good trombone man, and a good guitar man (and perhaps, yes, even a tuba man?) he could do that song on the Grand Ole Opry and really surprise people!!

Jun 30, 2022 - 8:23:11 AM

ChunoTheDog

Canada

1588 posts since 8/9/2019

quote:
Originally posted by phb

I knew about the accordion but I wasn't entirely sure about the tuba. It makes a good substitute for a bass.


Makes sense. Especially if the tuba player has the ear for simple and tasteful upright bass-style bluegrass backup.

My even be heard better in a bluegrass ensemble setting than an upright bass, too.

Jun 30, 2022 - 8:33:49 AM
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RB3

USA

1359 posts since 4/12/2004

I had an old friend who taught tuba at the Cincinnati Conservatory of Music at the University Of Cincinnati. He was primarily a Jazz player who played tuba in Classic Jazz combos, but he also played string bass in a couple of Bluegrass bands. A mandolin player who assumed that the music performed on a tuba must not be particularly complex, asked about him about his tuba curriculum at CCM. He said that the first semester covered "oom" and the second semester covered "pah".

Sadly, the tuba ended up killing him.  He had just finished a gig at the Kings Island amusement park and he was walking to his car in the parking lot when he was struck by lightning.  He was killed instantly.

Edited by - RB3 on 06/30/2022 08:42:53

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Jun 30, 2022 - 9:07:09 AM

phb

Germany

3404 posts since 11/8/2010

@The Old Timer: "I know from my high school bass fiddle playing in the school band, that the sheet music for tuba and bass fiddle are the same."

I actually thought that might be the case. I'm not sure whether I had heard that somewhere a long time ago or I am imagining things. The tuba player said something about an "F tuba" which probably refers to the lowest note it can play and another tuba (Bb?) and both being of different sizes/weights. If F/Bb is really the lowest note, then the tuba would have a different range than a bass fiddle. The tuba player said something about one type of tuba being able to play a lower note than a bass. Well, perhaps he will show up again, we invited him back.

ChunoTheDog : I recorded the session, I hope that the recordings are ok. Perhaps I will upload a good example song with the tuba accompaniment.


@RB3: your first paragraph had me laughing, your second paragraph made me choke on my laughter.

Edited by - phb on 06/30/2022 09:07:58

Jun 30, 2022 - 9:46:10 AM

1622 posts since 4/13/2009

If Monroe had used a tuba, Joe Stuart would have played it.

Jun 30, 2022 - 9:57:32 AM

kd8tzc

USA

392 posts since 4/11/2022

quote:
Originally posted by RB3

Sadly, the tuba ended up killing him.  He had just finished a gig at the Kings Island amusement park and he was walking to his car in the parking lot when he was struck by lightning.  He was killed instantly.


Wow... that is horrible.

Jun 30, 2022 - 10:26:27 AM

152 posts since 2/7/2020

If he had it might have sounded something like this: mandolincafe.com/forum/content...-Tuba-Duo

Jun 30, 2022 - 10:34:57 AM
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9784 posts since 8/28/2013

The lightning is what actually killed the poor guy. The metal of the tuba helped draw the lightning, but so could a belt buckle.

Those who where foil hats may not be aware that any metal should not be worn in a lightning storm. There are a few of those types I hope don't find out and keep right on wearing their hazardous headwear in storms.

I have always been more worried about Jewish Space Lasers.

Jun 30, 2022 - 10:50:05 AM

mjt0229

USA

418 posts since 4/20/2015

quote:
Originally posted by The Old Timer

I know from my high school bass fiddle playing in the school band, that the sheet music for tuba and bass fiddle are the same. I couldn't read music at speed, but the band director stood me beside the tuba player and said "use her sheet music".


I'm pretty sure that's not quite right. The double bass is a transposing instrument - we read music written an octave above where it sounds, but I am quite sure that the tuba does not. That means if you played the note D in the middle of the bass clef on the tuba and on the double bass, the tuba would play it one octave higher than the bass would, despite both instruments naturally having similar ranges.

I've been a double bass player for 30+ years now and when I have looked at tuba music (especially from my own days in high school band), it was full of ledger lines below the bass clef, which I recall made it extremely difficult for me to read, since the bass rarely plays below the E one ledger line below (except if, like me, you have a C-extension, in which case you can go one more ledger line down to the C one third below that).

Jun 30, 2022 - 12:12:07 PM

1905 posts since 5/19/2018

My second instrument is of all things....Tuba.

Back a million years ago I played in a band where for the most part we did traditional music, very standard Bluegrass, very standard instruments and arrangements. The one odd thing was that the bass player doubled on Tuba on an exceedingly sophisticated level, the mandolin player was a accomplished accordionist, and the Guitar player had very solid clarinet chops. The fiddle player, well, only played fiddle or violin. On one gig, I think it was New Years in NYC, we did a set of some pretty whacked out music all on our second instruments. The odd thing was that it was exceptionally well received and we would up doing oddball gigs in very strange places with that set up.

As for Bill Monroe using a Tuba, No. but he did have an accordion and he did have a tenor banjo. If he threw a Tuba in that mix, who the heck knows what kind of music we would be listening to now.

Jun 30, 2022 - 12:40:39 PM

213 posts since 9/18/2005

I played some Tuba in a brass band in the UK.

Tubas are transposing instruments and there are different types with different sizes and tubing lengths which result in different pitches. The lowest open note (no valves pressed) on an F tube will be an F. The lowest open note on a Bb tuba (which is bigger) is a Bb (which is lower). There are also C tubas and Eb tubas.

Sheet music may be written in concert pitch which would require the player to transpose (unless they are playing a C tuba), or it may be transposed to suit the instrument. I believe orchestral music is typically written in concert pitch, bass clef which would be the same as the Double Bass music. It may be in a different octave though. The Brass band music I played on an Eb tuba was written in treble clef and transposed, which saved me having to relearn all the notes and fingerings when I switched from a Bb cornet.

Jun 30, 2022 - 12:47:30 PM

14836 posts since 10/30/2008

Did I err in not specifying my high school band used a Sousaphone instead of a tuba?

Jun 30, 2022 - 1:00:59 PM
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Jbo1

USA

1154 posts since 5/19/2007

I think we are missing the big story here: A TUBA PLAYER RIDING A BIKE???!!

Jun 30, 2022 - 1:36:22 PM
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1905 posts since 5/19/2018

Jim...it’s Berlin. That kind of stuff happens there all of the time.

Jun 30, 2022 - 3:16:09 PM

198 posts since 2/22/2019

Mr Bill did say at one time that if he hadnt learned mandolin he would have tried the trombone.

Jun 30, 2022 - 4:31:43 PM
Players Union Member

Helix

USA

15690 posts since 8/30/2006

Jimmy Fallon's band on late night uses a Sousaphone.

And for lightning, get a wooden one.

I so enjoyed playing in Berlin, people are different in a positive and respectful way to musicians and little kids give you pretzels. 

Manfred Maurenbrecher is my hero. 

Edited by - Helix on 06/30/2022 16:34:17

Jun 30, 2022 - 5:42:52 PM
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3799 posts since 7/12/2006

I always wondered how a tuba would sound in a bluegrass band. I played one for 4 years in school. The other kids used to  throw wadded up paper at me trying to score two points in my tuba.

Edited by - stanleytone on 06/30/2022 17:43:14

Jun 30, 2022 - 9:12:16 PM

4030 posts since 9/12/2016

I always wondered about what would have happened,if Earl had been a part of Benny Goodman's band instead of the bluegrass boys

Jul 1, 2022 - 12:06:20 AM

phb

Germany

3404 posts since 11/8/2010

quote:
Originally posted by Alvin Conder

My second instrument is of all things....Tuba.

:) 

 

Back a million years ago I played in a band where for the most part we did traditional music, very standard Bluegrass, very standard instruments and arrangements. The one odd thing was that the bass player doubled on Tuba on an exceedingly sophisticated level, the mandolin player was a accomplished accordionist, and the Guitar player had very solid clarinet chops. The fiddle player, well, only played fiddle or violin. On one gig, I think it was New Years in NYC, we did a set of some pretty whacked out music all on our second instruments. The odd thing was that it was exceptionally well received and we would up doing oddball gigs in very strange places with that set up.

I can see how that can be very refreshing for both the audience and the band. On my way home from the session I listened to Latin Ska. Lots of brass, no acustic string instruments... 

 

As for Bill Monroe using a Tuba, No. but he did have an accordion and he did have a tenor banjo. If he threw a Tuba in that mix, who the heck knows what kind of music we would be listening to now.


Are you implying we then wouldn't be listening to music from a genre created by Bill Monroe? :) 

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