3.1.3 Materials

Wagner tubas are typically made of brass, a common material in the manufacturing of brass wind instruments like the horn. Brass provides a combination of durability and resonance necessary to produce the powerful and majestic sound that characterizes Wagner's music. Additionally, some parts may be silver-plated or finished in other materials to enhance aesthetics and durability.


Brass is primarily composed of copper and zinc, and the proportions in which they are used affect the type of brass alloy produced. Generally, the softer the material, the warmer and darker the sound it produces; harder metal provides a brighter and more responsive sound. There are different combinations, but three main types of brass alloys are commonly used in the manufacturing of horns and Wagner tubas (Andy McKeown, 2014).


    1. Gold Brass: As the name implies, gold brass has a slightly darker color due to the higher copper content (85%) within the alloy. This imparts a broader and fuller tone to the instrument while maintaining a good level of projection. Gold brass is the softest metal, resulting in a mellower sound.
    2. Yellow Brass: A highly resonant alloy (70% copper) that produces a bright and direct tone. It is the most commonly used material and provides a smooth sound at softer dynamics but becomes brassier at higher dynamics.
    3. Nickel Silver: Generally, it contains between 50-80 percent copper, 5-30 percent nickel, and 10-35 percent zinc. It is the least commonly used material of the three, being the hardest metal and producing a brighter sound.

Each material contributes different sonic qualities to the instrument, as well as a different color. There is no ideal material; it is up to the musician to choose the one that they prefer or that suits their playing style to achieve their best results.