This bassline played on tuba should really be called ‘What is Possible – on the tuba?’ On one level it’s effectively an exercise in tonguing endurance under the effects of oxygen deprivation (I had to practice a lot to build up stamina to overcome the build up of lactic acid in my tongue!). On another it’s a great workout in the funky department. I was inspired to try this one out after watching a Scott’s Bass Lessons Youtube video (check it out here).
I don’t think I’ll ever be using the main bass figure on a gig, there’s just too much repetition to ever make it sit well on the tuba! The necessity to take a breath at the beginning of the bar on the only tied semi quaver in the riff does disrupt the flow a little but it’s the only way to make it happen on tuba.
What this bassline highlights is how I go about playing this style of music. Speak to almost any tuba teacher and they will tell you that your sound starts with air – air support, air flow, diaphragm etc. Good ‘air’ equals a good sound, or at least the foundation for a good sound. I don’t dispute this, but for this style of music I’m actually using very little air, in fact as little air as possible so that I can keep playing these long baselines going without passing out. A lot of the sound I’m producing comes less from my diaphragm and more from my mouth as I use a percussive tongue articulation on the relentless semiquaver lines. This bassline is a proper tonguing workout.
For the full note for note transcription of Rocco’s bassline click here.