Fifteen Safari Duets for Tubas

Medium: Chamber Music

Fifteen Safari Duets for Tubas was composed for playing duets with my tuba students. The fifteen duets are at different levels of difficulty and various styles so that we always had duets to play no matter what ability of student. There is something in each duet for students to learn from the basics of tone production, rhythms, melodic phrasing, jazz, graphic notation, etc. Most are sight readable and some have been performed in concerts. In 1988 I spent a month in Kenya on safari and experiencing the African wildlife and culture, thus the inspiration for these duets that were composed soon after the trip in 1989 and 1990 and have been a regular part of my teaching ever since. Four of these duets are recorded on the compact disc “Tuba Safari” (Troy 1173) on Albany Records. 1. Elephants at Tsavo – This duet presents the cantabile style studied for playing the tuba. I find that this duet helps the student much like the melodies of Borgodni etudes. There are more elephants in Tsavo than anywhere else in Kenya. It was not uncommon to see large families of thirty elephants at a time. 3.Gallop – Thompson Gazelle at Amboseli – This duet provides an opportunity to read in a sharp key, D major, as well as basic rhythms and articulations. I find that the more advanced students can read in a faster tempo and other students can work in a slower tempo – a common choice in all of the duets. Large herds of playful Thompson Gazelle were a usual occurrence in most of the game parks in Kenya. 3. Rhinos at Nairobi Game Park – This waltz helps the student match phrasing in a cantabile setting. There are a few instances where the teacher (playing the first part) plays a phrase then the student plays a similar phrase. The rhinoceros is a very noble animal that can grow to more that 1,000 pounds and is known for its horn. The Nairobi game park is located just outside the city, giving a sense of surrealism to the panorama. 4. Giraffes at Nairobi Twiga Park – This is in a “rock” style with syncopated rhythms and cantabile melodies. The Nairobi Twiga park is just outside the city and is the only place where one can feed the giraffes. Along with their long necks they have very long tongues. 5. Warthogs at Ngulia – Legato scales and syncopated rhythms are the features of this duet. Warthogs have tails that are held upright when they run. 6. Baboons at Kiliguni -This duets alternates in rock style and swing. Baboons are sometimes a problem because they will try to steal food from the tourists’ tables. They will work together where one causes a diversion while the others steal. 7. Pastoral – Cape Buffalo at Samburu – The key of A for this duet gives variation for the students. Cape Buffalo are in large herds on the savanna. The Samburu Lodge dining area was built next to a watering hole. At the beginning of breakfast there were no animals, but in fifteen minutes more than 500 cape buffalo were at the water hole. 8. Song – Hippos at Mzima Springs – This is the easiest of rhythms and range of the duets, especially for the 2 (student) part. Hippopotamuses can grow up to 4,000 pounds and spend most of their time sleeping in the water during the day. At night they go on land to hunt. 9. Leopards at Kimana Lodge – This duet is non-metric and uses graphic notation. This was a favorite duet of my students as many have never experienced this notation before. The leopard is a large predatory cat that usually hunts at night. 10. Colobus Monkeys at the Ark –
This is an Invention in the Bach style. The Ark is a building that was built in 1969 at a watering hole for tourists to watch wildlife. The colobus monkey is black with white on its forearms and chest. 11. Zebra Migration at Masai Mara –
This duet is in a “Medium Swing” jazz style. The great migration between the Masai Mara and Serengeti involves about two million wildebeest, zebras and other animals every year. It is considered one of the most impressive natural events worldwide. 12. Ostrich at Samburu –
This duet works on double time and half time. The ostrich is the largest bird in the world. In Samburu there was an ostrich that hung around the lodge, her name was Margaret. She was very friendly with everybody but she would steal your hat. 13. Cheetah at Voi –
This is another duet that includes graphic notation. The cheetah can run up to 80 miles an hour when chasing after prey. When not hunting prey it often walks very slowly. 14. Gallop – Gerenuk at Buffalo Springs –
This gallop displays different types of articulation. The gerenuk is an antelope
with a slightly extended neck so it can eat higher leaves from trees. 15. Lions at Mara Sopa –
This duet is in the style of a fanfare. The lion is considered the king of the savanna.


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