First thing: apologies for not writing something more substantial last week. In order to make it up to you (at least a little bit) I’ll breaking this post into two parts. I’m also doing this because part of what I want to say is going to pertain to tomorrow’s comic.
Yes, as you may have inferred, the next comic will involve tubas—specifically, we will attempt to delve further into the mysterious purpose and obscure origins of the inscrutable celebration that is TUBACHRISTMAS. This process of discovery may very well change us all forever.
But at this moment, I would like to clarify some outstanding issues concerning the tuba. First and foremost: any tubists1 in the audience may be greatly offended by our recent installments, perhaps perceiving them as a slight against the powerful nobility of their instrument. I can understand why a tubist might be particularly sensitive to chagrin: when low brass gets any attention at all, nine times out of ten it’s the trombone. Understandably, I suppose; it’s very poetical to imagine a fleet of trombonists, glistening brass arms sliding in perfect unison. But then when someone does deign to portray the tuba, it’s a bumbling, inelegant, comical instrument. It wouldn’t be so bad if it was just occasionally, but unfortunately the tuba gets this crap all the time.
That’s why I think that tubists are amongst the most good-hearted instrumentalists out there. Have you ever met a tubist without a sense of humor, or with a hugely inflated ego? I think not! They’d go insane.
Full disclosure: I played tuba in my younger years (from 5th to 8th grade).2 Since I haven’t played a tuba for the last eight or so years, I can’t really call myself a tubist—but I still have a special connection to the instrument. Perhaps my overwhelmingly positive impression of tubists is just a product of this bias; however, you can absolutely believe me when I say I have nothing but respect for the tuba.
Which brings me to our comics. I hope it’s more or less clear that Jen and Maya are intentionally playing poorly to annoy Roy, who is kind of a jerk and probably deserves it. Rest assured, Jen is an excellent tubist and is perfectly capable of producing quite beautiful tones. (Maya is no slouch either, though her specialty is the trombone.) If Jen seems a little overenthusiastic about her instrument, perhaps she’s simply reacting against Roy’s relentless negativity? He clearly doesn’t “get” the tuba. (Though maybe someday that will change…?)
The tuba is a fantastic instrument, almost certainly underrated and overlooked. To be sure, it is also a little bit silly. But in a good way! I respectfully draw a comparison to the elephant, which is a noble and intelligent animal, but also big and silly and awesome. And who doesn’t like elephants?
I’ll conclude with a video of Øystein Baadsvik, tubist extraordinaire, being fairly impressive on a tuba:
1 My spell checker doesn’t have the word “tubists” in it, which is unforgivable. It suggests “cubists” as a possible replacement. I’m not sure why, but I really like that.
2 For the curious, John played the bassoon up through high school. Bass instruments represent!