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Tuba Sunshine


The highlight of today’s tuba practise session was figuring out how to play the Cream classic, Sunshine of Your Love. Perhaps I should say starting to figure out how to play it. I only managed the main riff and that for the I chord in the key of E♭. I’ve played it in various keys but mainly ‘guitarish’ ones. A comes to mind although, checking back, it seems the original was in D so I wasn’t that far off.

Why was I messing around with a song that doesn’t generally call for tubas? It struck me that if I want to learn to play the tuba rather than just learn to read music on the tuba, I need to build in a bit of improvisation too. When I learned bass, I spent a lot of time jamming round and particularly in the area of blues-influenced rock so I guess I’m just going back to my roots.

It isn’t really about particular songs so much as developing the instinct to play the note I want to play, whether it is written down on a sheet of music or because I’m responding to what I hear in the music around me. A few well-worn rock riffs won’t get me all the way there but they will be a useful help along the way, particularly if I can figure out how to play them in all twelve keys and, where possible, in different octaves (a trivial exercise on bass but a little more of a “learning opportunity” on a brass instrument).

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