Mists On The River Wear

Tuba (Eb Bass) and Brass Band (or Piano) accompaniment

Mists on the River Wear is a ‘song and dance’ for solo tuba.   It was commissioned in 2010 by the Black Dyke Band’s solo Eb Bass player and international tuba star Joseph Cook.

The Song 

The work opens with solo tuba announcing a three-note motif which is the basis for the entire work.  The band enters in broken cluster chords which emulates mist dancing on the river at early morning.  The mist clears and the river motif appears on the tenor horns whilst the tuba melody flows above. Geographically the river passes Durham Cathedral and the Castle on its journey through the city and to reflect this there is an element of a renaissance dance in the centre of this movement to capture the historic and physically dominating presence of these buildings.  As the movement draws to a close there is a passage of light scoring which enables the soloist to demonstrate his ability of playing harmonics, which is eventually engulfed by the sound of the river broadening out on its journey. 

The Dance

In contrast to the lyrical first part of the piece, this section showcases the versatility of the instrument and the agility of the soloist in a lively dance. 

The dance begins in compound time and echoes the style of an English jig which represents the energetic life of the university city of Durham.  There is a deliberate quote written into the theme of the jig from the Ralph Vaughan-Williams tuba concerto, which both Joe and I share a fondness towards. 

A brief return to the riverside and the opening material of the piece quickly leads into a pseudo “jazz” waltz, where cross rhythms between soloist and band parts give the melody a sense of disjointedness and ambiguity. However the music soon flows back into a reprise of the jig with a closing cadenza section that brings Mists on the River Wear to a close.


Joseph Cook was born in County Durham which is where the inspiration for the setting of the piece comes.  The title is loosely derived from a song recorded in 1971 by the English band Lindisfarne, called Fog on the Tyne.


Difficulty: Difficult

Duration: 00:06:30

Available from: Prima Vista Musikk Ltd

With piano accompaniment: Prima Vista Musikk Ltd