Writing For Orchestra: The Trombone

When I was a kid, I remember sitting through a grade school assembly session where the kids were subjected to an animated movie about the different instruments of the orchestra and I admit that my favorite part was the "Trombone Song". The singer wailed Trom-BONE..Tro-o-omBONE!" and I still remember it! It is still a rather intriguing instrument to me. It is long and and cylindrical while producing these exquisite sounds. It was called a sackbut before the 18th century. Mozart and even his father Leopold loved to use the instrument. Mendelssohn founded the Musikhochschule where the trombone took on a new life. Christian Friedrich Sattler re-designed the trombone which spread widely throughout Europe and is the basis for what the instrument looks and sounds like today. Beethoven's use of trombones brought the instrument into 19th century recognition and admiration. I love using trombones in coherence with trumpets because I always felt that they were brothers in the family of the orchestra. Trombones, of course, have a more somber tone and can be used in counterpoint or in lower unison with the trumpets easily. They go together quite well. Also, the trombone is not a transposing instrument like the trumpet. They use either the bass or tenor clefs in a score. Of course, it is widely used in Jazz as well, but pop artist Thomas Dolby used it brilliantly in "Hyperactive" which shows the instrument's widespread appeal and diversity. Hope you enjoyed this week's blog; sorry for the long wait!:) BKT

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