The Tuba and the Concerto: An analysis of the Concerto for Bass Tuba and Orchestra (1954) by Ralph Vaughan Williams based on the characteristics of the British “Barlow” F tuba
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Since the early twentieth century, the British tuba playing tradition has differed strongly from both the continental European and the American tradition. On June 13, 1954 the first Tuba Concerto, written by Ralph Vaughan Williams, premiered at the last Jubilee concert of the London Symphony Orchestra. The soloist of the premiere, Philip Catelinet, played on a British “Barlow” F tuba. This instrument was a representation of the standard of British tubas playing at this time and since importing foreign instruments was illegal, it can safely be assumed that Vaughan Williams wrote his concerto with this instrument type in mind. In this thesis, the sound of two “Barlow” F tubas is analyzed with the use of chromagrams. The chromagrams - a visual representation of sound separated into twelve pitch classes - support an aural analysis of the sound of these tubas. This analysis shows that both tubas in the case study have a dark and mellow sound with a throaty whisper-like quality in the lower register - corresponding to a strong presence of overtones in the minor seventh chroma. The results of this analysis are used in the music analysis of the score of Vaughan Williams’s concerto. This music analysis shows that the composer was aware of the better and lesser qualities of the British F tuba and used a range of methods to accommodate this instrument and highlight its best qualities. Furthermore, evidence in the orchestration points towards the composer viewing the tubas lower range timbre as similar to that of the bassoon.