Roger Marsh Composer

Spit and Blow

A revolutionary study for tuba

In Spit and Blow the tuba player is seated on an office style swivel stool, capable of spinning through 360 degrees without changing height.  The performer spins when prompted by their own fortissimo staccato notes, like gunshots, changing direction at the next shot.  The idea came from a seaside arcade machine which gripped me at the age of 13 when I was on a school holiday in Blankenberg, Belgium.  The game involved shooting at a plastic bear which ran around a track.  It had a glass circle on each side and on its stomach.  If you shot one side it would rear up and change direction.  If you were good enough you could shoot its stomach as it reared and keep it hovering.  The game was apparently very popular, although I only ever encountered it on that one holiday.  This video is more or less the game I became obsessed with:

A shoot the bear machine

Spit and Blow was commissioned by Melvyn Poor and premiered by him at the Midland Arts Centre, Canon Hill,Birmingham in 1983.  He performed it a few times. Over the years I have had one or two enquiries about the piece, but I don’t think anyone else has actually taken it on.  It is highly virtuosic, ranging across the entire range of the tuba (which is huge when the highest register is employed) and requiring a long rehearsal process to master the physical demands and precise co-ordination of the spinning. I love the piece, and wish we had been able to make a video…….

Score prelim. page and page 1.