Subcontrabass Tuba

Subcontrabass TubaThe subcontrabass tuba is an extension of the tuba family within the modern contrabass tuba. At least five known examples have been created, all pitched in BBBb, sounding a full octave lower than standard BBb contrabass tubas. Music for them is written in bass clef sounding a full octave lower than notated.

The first existence of an instrument of this sort was designed by the Parisian instrument innovator Adolphe Sax 1814–1894, the inventor of the saxophone, who dubbed it the subcontrabass saxhorn. These instruments were all very rare and never received a great deal of attention. The first two modern instruments were built by Besson on the suggestion of American Bandmaster John Philip Sousa, who toured using one in his band from 1896-1898. One of this pair, the only known playable instrument of its kind, is owned by the Harvard University Band and is still played periodically in concerts.

In the 1950s, British musician Gerard Hoffnung commissioned the London subcontrabass tuba for use in his comedic music festivals, and also commissioned a work: Variations on "Annie Laurie" 1956 by Gordon Jacob, specifically including the instrument. A tuba pitched in FFF was made in Kraslice by Bohland & Fuchs probably during 1910 or 1911 and was destined for the World Exhibition in New York in 1913 Green. This tuba is "playable," but two persons are needed: one to operate the valves and one to blow into the mouthpiece. Finally, Dr. Frederick Young plays a King BBb tuba that was converted into a double tuba in BBb and EEE natural) by Dietrich Kleine-Horst of the Herbert Gronitz Brass Instrument Company in Hamburg, Germany in 1990. The BBb side is a contrabass tuba, and the EEE side is a subcontrabass tuba.