Music for Four Big Instruments

(jazz quartet adaptation for Tuba, Piano, Double Bass and Drum Set).
Total duration ca. 7 or more minutes (2006)
Published by Activist Music (ASCAP).
Commissioned in 2006 by Alan Baer, Steve Dillon of Dillon Music of Woodbridge, New Jersey and Gerhard Meinl of the Wenzel Meinl Company of Geretsried Germany, makers of Meinl-Weston tubas.
One movement work. 21 pages, 8.5" x 11".



Also available as:


Music for Two Big Instruments

(Tuba and Piano).
Total duration ca. 7 minutes (2000)
Published by Activist Music (ASCAP).
Commissioned in 2000 by tubist Norman Pearson
and pianist Cynthia Bauhof-Williams.
One movement work. 16 pages, 8.5" x 11".



View page one of the score

Listen to audio clips of the tuba and piano version of this piece,
Music for Two Big Instruments

1. hear

2. hear


Purchase the scores

Score and part for the jazz quartet version
available from Activist Music:
$40.00 print; $28.00 digital.

Score and part for the duet version
available from Activist Music:
$25.00 print; $17.00 digital.





Whenever I mentioned to non-musician friends that I was composing a work for tuba and piano, the response was usually one of surprise and barely muffled laughter. The exclamation, "Tuba, eh? What a funny instrument!" was often accompanied by exaggerated hand and mouth gestures that somewhat resembled a trout attempting to inflate a balloon. I knew I had my work cut out for me. Thus, the arrival of Music for Two Big Instruments, born of my desire to create good PR for a sometimes beleaguered and misunderstood instrument.

I was delighted when L.A. Phil tubist Norm Pearson and his pianist wife Cindy Williams invited me to write this duet for them, because although people understand the orchestral tuba's gallant role in seating the pitch and rhythm for the rest of the band, they know little of the F tuba's agility or gorgeous lyrical qualities. Thus, I chose two contrasting themes, one uptempo and the other nearly a jazz ballad, to showcase just how beautiful and diverse this instrument really is.

Alan Baer and Brad Haag brought the duet version into the world in a beautiful performance captured on Alan’s 2005 debut CD, Coast to Coast. A few months after recording, Alan found himself with the opportunity to perform the piece in an expanded version in Portugal with a jazz rhythm section, and asked me if I was game. What he didn’t know is that as I was composing the duet, I had always heard two additional big instruments, bass and drums, playing along with this music in my head. It’s wonderful to get them out of my head, onto the page, and into the air, thus: “Music for Four Big Instruments.”


Coast to Coast CD
Music for Two Big Instruments is featured on Alan Baer's 2005 CD, Coast to Coast, on Baer Tracks Records BTM 001. Click CD for more info, plus a full review.  
Notes from the Kelp

Music for Two Big Instruments is featured on the 2007 Innova Recordings CD, Notes from the Kelp (innova 683). Click CD for more info.




Alex Shapiro and the anniversary of the premiere of Music for Two Big Instruments were the subject of the February 11, 2017 segment of Composers Datebook, a daily two-minute syndicated radio program produced by American Public Media in association with the American Composers Forum. You can listen to host John Zech's amusing description by clicking here and then clicking the "play" arrow at the top of the page listen



Composers Datebook-Shapiro


Email Alex for the access code
to download a perusal score!


download perusal score



Enjoy this video of tubist Brandon Davis,
pianist Chun-Chieh Yen,
bassist Robin Kesselman
and drummer Joseph Beribak
performing the quartet adapatation of this piece,
titled Music for Four Big Instruments,
in Los Angeles, March 2010:





Speaking of deep sonorities...




Do you love tuba music as much as Alex loves the tuba? Tubist Gretchen Renshaw James has commissioned Alex to compose an electroacoustic work for solo tuba, and here's a chance for YOU to participate in launching it!


Professionals can be a part of this consortium for $100, and students are very, very welcome to join for just $25 (hey that's only a handful of lattes, and the caffeine you don't consume means that there will be more left for Alex while she composes this fun piece!). Click this link to fill out a form to express your interest— no payment needed.



new EA tuba piece!!


"Music for Two Big Instruments is brilliantly crafted. It takes commitment to be other than clever, and Alex has it. She treats the tuba exactly like a French horn with an extended lower range, but takes advantage of its power without losing lyricism."

— Dennis Bathory-Kitsz



"...a very powerful piece.... the perfect intro for an excellent CD!"

— Sérgio Carolino, Tuba News



"First think of two really big instruments, and then mentally pair them in a duet. Bet you didn’t think of a piano and a tuba. But Ms. Shapiro did, then imaginatively named the resulting duet, “Music for Two Big Instruments”. And a more surprising lyrical pairing would be hard to imagine except it be the music of Ponchielli’s “Dance of The Hours” and Walt Disney’s impossibly graceful hippo ballerinas. Say what? A lyrical tuba? Betcherass — and beautifully, too."

— A.C. Douglas, Sounds & Fury



"Music for Two Big Instruments is remarkable... I think this deserves some kind of award. I wouldn't automatically think that just the tuba and piano couldn't work together for very long, but [Alex has] succeeded in making them do so, and very well at that."

— Barry Schrader



"...lovely and delicately complex..."

— Peggy Hall Kaplan, Malibu Surfside News



"One might consider this a sound track for the movie of your dreams."

— Sherry Kloss, Mu Phi Epsilon's "The Triangle"



"The tuba works very well in this piece, and it’s great to hear the instrument being used so lyrically and in a way that it is so exposed."

David Toub, Sequenza21



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Music for Four Big Inst. page one


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Music for Four Big Inst. page 12



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