Tubas and Euphoniums and Flügelhorns, oh my. When we think about these three instruments, we don’t normally associate them into a single coherent family, but that’s what they are. The tubas, as I collectively call this group, are brass instruments whose bore is almost completely conical from the mouthpiece to the bell. Their mouthpiece is also deeper than that of the trombones, trumpets, and cornets, but not as deep as the Horns.
This family has four extant members (and two extinct ones). Two of these are of utmost importance to the standard wind band: the Euphonium and the Contrabass Tuba. The Flügelhorn is a regular visitor, and the Bass Tuba may make an occasional visit, but more often than not is at home in the orchestra.
When we think of the tubas, we think of bass and the oom-pah sound, but the tuba family is noble and sonorous, warm and melodic. Creative thinking and bandestration can change how we view this family.
With the exception of the two true tubas, none of these instruments have ever been sufficiently covered in orchestration texts, so I will go into slightly more detail here than I do for some of the other instruments.
As muting rules apply across the board for the tubas, I shall cover it in the broad introduction. The only available mute for any of the tubas is the straight mute (though I have heard of creative tuba players making cup mutes out of ice cream cartons). Mutes are rare for the Flügelhorn. Mutes for the Bass and Contrabass Tubas are huge (resembling something NASA might put into orbit). Make sure the player has enough time to insert and remove the mutes.