April 5, 2014
Jaws offers a more interesting spin on the tuba-villain connection. It's not what you're thinking: that two-note, lurking, bah-dum... bah-dum ...is played by string basses, not tuba. But composer John Williams did give the tuba the melody in the shark's theme. You have to listen for it, and it may not immediately strike you as a tuba because it's written in a very high register. In fact, Tommy Johnson, the tubist who played for Jaws and many Hollywood soundtracks (and also played those four losing notes on The Price is Right), asked John Williams why he didn't write the part for French horn. Williams answered that he wanted a "more threatening" sound. So there you have it--one of the most popularly recognized composers today hears menace in the tuba.It's interesting that those 4 notes from "Price is Right" is often notated "Sad Trombone" not "Sad Tuba".