Hungarian innovation to support tuba soloists

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Gergely Ráki

Roland Szentpáli and Zoltán Juhász developed a new mechanism called Twoba, which now allows musicians to play the tuba while standing and moving freely on stage, according to a press release sent to the Budapest Business Journal.

Photo by Gergely Ráki

The conversion from the traditional to the standing positioning takes only two and a half minutes. The significance of this invention is manifested by the German seventh-generation luthier, Gerhard Meinl’s involvement in the world patent and distribution.

The tuba, patented on September 12, 1835, could only be played in a seated position during concerts due to its size and weight. While the cello and the piano are also played liked this, but a major difference in the case of the tuba is that it covers the musician’s face almost completely, as well as it is very difficult to move with it during performance.

"As a soloist, I have been struggling for decades that I had to remain seated at all concerts and had only to choose between two inconvenient, static positions. If I sit down facing the audience, they can see half of my face, therefore I can establish some contact with them, though quite limited, but then the bell of the tuba is directed towards the rear corner of the stage so they cannot hear me well. If I sit down sideways, the sound is reflected from the ceiling so the audience can hear my performance much better, but then, in turn, it becomes almost totally impersonal since only a few of them can see my face, only from one side," says tuba player and composer Roland Szentpáli, who was the first Hungarian soloist to achieve international success with this instrument.

"Moreover, the performer cannot communicate with the conductor and the other musicians because of the static, almost immobile position that extremely narrows down the soloist’s expressivity. We have been working with Hungarian, French and German makers for years in order to find a solution," he adds.

Based on the player’s ideas, Golden-laureate instrument maker Zoltán Juhász has developed a new piston system that reforms the holding position of the instrument so that the player can perform stand-up. All is achieved by adding only one part to the tuba which can be installed subsequently to any instrument of a similar system.

The innovation enables the musician to move freely on stage while requiring only minimal balancing. It allows a full view of the conductor, without covering the face, all while the tuba is targeted on the audience.

The greatest invention of the introduced mechanism is that the pistons are reversed from pushing to pulling movement, consequently, the mechanism pulls the pistons into the tubes upwards from the bottom which is completely opposite to the traditional direction. This makes it possible to turn the instrument 180 degrees. Furthermore, the conversion from the traditional to the new positioning requires a musician only a two-and-a-half-minute installation.

Gerhard Meinl, representing the seventh generation of a German family of instrument makers, the former owner of Wenzel Meinl GmbH, says that this innovation is the largest improvement since the patent of the tuba. The German expert who has built one of the most prominent tuba-making companies of the world from a family manufacture is supporting the Hungarian innovation as a patron.

The manufacturing of the new reversing mechanism takes place in Hungary by a Hungarian company, with professional and quality supervision ensured by Juhász and Szentpáli. The installation of the new part to a Meinl Weston 2250 type tuba will be simple to carry out by any instrument repair specialist all over the world.

Since it was recently developed, the part requires further adjustments due to differences in fixing and minimal alternations in size in case of any other types of tubas, the press release notes.

A video introducing the innovation is available here.

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