12.12.07

Tuba-Listening 101

I know not everyone is a tuba expert, so I thought I'd share my limited expertise. Tuba is hard to hear in most songs (assuming that there even is a tuba!) for a number of reasons. Tubas don't often play the melody, it's difficult to get a crisp, clear note from a tuba because the sound waves have to travel through lots of tubing, and the human ear has a harder time distinguishing really low pitches from one another than really high pitches from one another.

Every week or so I have an artist continuously playing on my ipod. This week is John Legend. I invite you to listen to his song "Alright" that, as you might have guessed, features tuba. You can hear tuba particularly well because it plays the musical hook for the song. Just more hard evidence that tuba is a sexy, sexy instrument.

4 comments:

Luke said...

I must admit I've never listened for a tuba before but I know what your talking about. For people that don't play music, they can't tell ANY of the instruments in the song! When most people listen to music, they hear it as a big proprietary blob. When musicians hear music, we hear an orchestra. I can't even imagine not being able to hear, for instance, a piano.

Phil Harnish said...

Totally! I'm afraid of learning to listen for instruments. I worry that it will change the way I hear music and I won't be able to unlearn it D:

Tom W. said...

I have to say, for the most part, I agree that tuba is difficult to hear. However, I definitely noticed it last weekend when the orchestra did Edgard Varèse's Amériques. Then again, that piece was totally for brass and percussion with winds and strings. I always find it cool to try to listen to particular instruments to pick them out of the mix. It's neat when good composers/arangers leave space in the acoustic spectrum for each instrument and sound. It really separates excellent composers from average composers. I would love to listen to the piece you suggested. Sounds rather interesting.

SB said...

Haha, there are actually quite a few people that indulge in the argument these comments are circling around. Is it better to be able to listen to a piece individualistically or holistically? There are some people who can only listen to individual parts and some people who can only hear the overall combination of voices. There are also many that can do both. Perfect Pitch may be considered the ultimate in individualistic hearing. Which way of listening is most musical? And if you already enjoy music through your current listening abilities, would it even matter if you were ignorant to some ‘greater way’ of experiencing music?