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!

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