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Wagner tuba - Brief description

Wagner tuba
German: Wagnertuba (Horntuba, Ringtuba, Rheingoldtuba)
French: Wagner tuba
Italian: Wagner tuba

The Wagner tuba, conceived by Richard Wagner for his Ring of the Nibelung, is made in two sizes, Bb (tenor instrument) and F (bass instrument). In the symphony orchestra two of each instrument have always been used. Because they have a horn mouthpiece they are played by hornists.

Playing technique and position underscore the fact that the instrument is molded entirely on the French horn; the four valves are operated with the left hand, and not, as on all other tubas, with the right. Unlike the horn, however, the bell faces upward.

Although the instrument’s conical tubing (which is less pronounced than the bass tuba’s) means that it belongs to the bugle-horn family, its playing technique and sound characteristics place it among the horns.

Aerophone, lip-vibrated instrument, brass wind instrument. Belongs to the valved bugle-horns family

Brass, gold brass, nickel silver, gold lacquer

Funnel-shaped mouthpiece (horn mouthpiece)

In Bb: 290 cm long
In F: 380 cm long

Narrow (comparable to the horn’s) inner diameter approx. 10.8–11 mm

In Bb: 4 valves, lowering pitch by 1, ½, 1½ steps, fourth-valve. Rotary valve unit
In F: 4 valves, lowering pitch by 1, ½, 1½ steps, fifth-valve

Medium flare