The trombone exists as a midrange brass instrument, lower-pitched than the trumpet and higher than the tuba. Like other members of the brass family, it features a mouthpiece for the player to vibrate their lips and generate a sound. Beyond this similarity, a slide characterizes the trombone, for which the player moves to reach a particular pitch.
About the Trombone
The slide mechanism consists of parallel inner and outer sections with two sets of tubes the player adjusts with their right hand. The left hand, meanwhile, supports the instrument with a brace located near the mouthpiece.
Aside from these aspects, the trombone is known for a cylindrical-shaped bore that flares out to a bell and a parabolic cross section. For additional support, the bell joint rests on the player's left shoulder, allowing them to point the bell upward to project the sound.
While the trombone's name means "large trumpet," its origins go back to the 15th century to the sackbut, a horned instrument with a sliding mechanism. Compared to current forms, these trombones were narrower, often resembling a longer trumpet but, similar to today, were pitched for alto, tenor and bass voices.
Initially, trombones found themselves strictly in religious compositions. The first secular work to incorporate them was Beethoven's Symphony No. 5, published in 1808. From there, it became a fixture of 19th century orchestral works, fleshing out the brass section and allowing for more of a grand, fanfare-style sound.
In the present, you'll spot trombones in orchestra, jazz, big band, marching band and ska music.
Types of Trombones
Those starting this instrument typically begin with the tenor trombone, pitched in B-flat and an octave lower than the standard trumpet. Unlike a trumpet, music will be written in concert pitch, rather than be transposed a whole step. An F attachment helps the instrument access a lower range of notes.
Going up in pitch, the alto trombone appears visually similar to a tenor but can access a higher range and is pitched in E-flat. Below the tenor, the bass trombone, also pitched in B-flat, has a larger bore, bell and mouthpiece, although the instrument uses the same amount of tubing.
Find Trombones at Alamo Music Center
Whether for improving your skills or getting started, Alamo Music Center offers a selection of new and used trombones from Yamaha, Antigua, Bach, Conn-Selmer, and Jupiter, among other brands. Browse today, consider signing up for trial lessons to get started, and explore multiple financing and layaway options, including 12- to 48-month no-interest financing at times.