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Trombone Facts

15 Interesting Facts About The Trombone

We all recognise this beautiful musical object, given its unique form and technical playing style. Of all the instruments covered by Ted’s List, the trombone is one of the most unchanged and consistent pieces throughout its life. There’s something childlike and enjoyable about the player’s movements, drawing in for high notes and out for deep and low. Let’s look at some more interesting facts.

Trombone Facts

1. Thine Entrails

Trombone Facts

The trombone is the only brass instrument that uses a moveable slide to alter its pitch. ‘Sackbut’ is another French word that describes this movement, describing a similar, extinct instrument, prior to trombone. Another interesting description of the early trombone is made by Sir Thomas Elyot in his book called The Castel of Helth (1534). Here he describes the trombone as having a positive, strengthening effect on the entrails of its players! 

2. Slide It In

The name trombone comes from various European languages and ultimately means ‘big trumpet. Of course, we already know the great differences between these two members of the brass family, given their different playing methods.

Trombone Facts

3. Mr And Mrs Trombone

In 1488, the Trombone received its first public appearance at the wedding of The Duke of Burgundy.

4. How Much Trombone For A Tenor?

Trombone Facts

As you can imagine, the trombone is available in many sizes depending on the tonal range required. The most common type, particularly amongst beginners is the tenor trombone. This normally comes in the key of Bb and is trombone in its simplest form. 

5. Good Gluck

German composer Christoph Willibald Gluck gave classical music its first introduction to the trombone, in the 1767 opera Alceste. In 1727 at the age of 13 or 14, Gluck reportedly disappeared on a quest to Prague to begin his musical career. This is not historically certain, but much of his income was achieved through busking.

6. Can You See That Trombone Sticking Out?

The nature of the trombone seems to encourage its use in dark themes, for example, dramatic descriptions of thunder and lightning, hell and human beheading. Take Berlioz Symphonie Fantastique which uses the instrument to describe a group of bystanders waiting to watch an execution. Yum!  

7. So Hot Its Melting

Homer Simpson randomly plays the trombone in one episode, performing Greensleeves. Additionally, in the episode ‘Lisa Gets the Blues’ the family travel to New Orleans and have a conversation with a group of jazz players standing under a sign entitled “Celebrate”. When asked for the meaning of the sign, the trombone player states that he was celebrating humidity of 98%, at which point his trombone melts. We also imagine that every musical instrument fact on this website could be linked in some way to The Simpsons.

8. Voodoo

With trombone, it’s possible to ‘slide’ through the range of notes giving its unique ‘glissando’ effect. The trombone can also be used to create a sound similar to the wah-wah pedal in electric guitar. This is achieved with the combination of the slide and the use of objects that muffle the sound. Not exactly Hendrix on trombone but very distinctive.

Trombone Facts

9. Tromboner

When stretched out into a straight line, the trombone’s brass tubing can be as long as 2.7 metres.

Trombone Facts