The tuba tends to get the step-child treatment, doesn’t it? Sure it’s an essential part of a marching band or orchestra, but what else can it do? Can it rock? Can it get experimental and underground enough to please the hipster crowd?
If you ever heard a Balkan brass band like Mahala Rai Banda or a New Orleans outfit like the Rebirth Brass Band, you should know very well that a tuba can rock. Harder than anything that normally gets called “rock,” in fact. When it comes to rocking out, guys like that could go toe to toe with Led Zeppelin, Van Halen, whoever you want to name.
As for experimental and underground, well… Anyone who decides to go non-traditional and do anything with solo tuba is by definition going to be underground.
I recently discovered Tom Heasley, someone who makes ambient music with a tuba – “true” ambient, the no-time-signature flowing soundscape variety. I was surprised, yet at the same time, it makes perfect sense. What better way to make long, flowing beautiful drones than with a tuba?
Here’s a sample of what he does:
Pretty, isn’t it?
You can learn more about Tom and buy some of his music on his website, Tomheasley.com
As for tuba that’s both rockin’ and experimental… I made a post a while back about Wolff, a unique musician who uses a tuba along with loops and a special vocal technique (singing through the tuba) to create very compelling indie rock. I also shared my experience playing tuba in high school. Turned out to be one of my most popular posts.
Almost makes me want to go shopping for a tuba. I bet my neighbors would love that.