The tuba is the largest and lowest pitched brass instrument. Sound is produced by vibrating or "buzzing" the lips into a large cupped mouthpiece. It is one of the most recent additions to the modern symphony orchestra, first appearing in the mid-19th century, when it largely replaced the ophicleide.
Prussian Patent No. 19 was granted to Wilhelm Friedrich Wieprecht and Carl Moritz on September 12, 1835 for a "basstuba" in F1. The original Wieprecht and Moritz instrument used five valves of the Berlinerpumpen type that were the forerunners of the modern rotary valve.
An orchestra usually has a single tuba, though an additional tuba may be asked for as well. It is the principal bass instrument in symphonic and military bands, and those ensembles generally have more. It serves as the bass of the brass section and of brass quintets and choirs, as well as reinforcement for the bass voices of the strings and woodwinds, and as a solo instrument.
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