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10 facts about the trombone

Tuba, trumpet, trombone…which one should you pick up this fall?  Read below to learn what makes the trombone the right choice, and to find out a little more about this bass instrument’s long history.

1.  The date of the first trombone’s creation, or its original creator, is somewhat of a mystery. The earliest record of a trombone dates to the 15th century.

2.  How does a trombone differ from the other options?  The trombone uses a slide to alter pitches, rather than a valve. It is the only instrument in the brass family to do so!

3.  The word trombone is derived from Italian and German words meaning “trumpet.”

Photo credit: "Trombones" by bpcraddock, Public Domain via Pixabay
Photo credit: “Trombones” by bpcraddock, Public Domain via Pixabay.

4.  The trombone has been called multiple names, including dracht  (draught, draucht) trumpet and tuba ductilis.

5.  Trumpets were featured in various paintings, images, and diagrams since the 15th century.  The first visual of a trombone was in Filippino Lippi’s fresco The Assumption of the Virgin in S Maria sopra Minerva, Rome in 1488-93.

6.  The first diagrammatic depiction of a trombone is Aurelio Virgiliano’s Il dolcimelo (1600).

7.  Like antiques?  The oldest surviving trombone was made in 1551. Very few early trombone mouthpieces survived to today. One of the most notable early mouthpieces is embellished with the mark of the Schnitzer family, who made trombones in Nuremberg in the 16th century.

8.  It was not until the late 18th century that the trombone became an official part of the orchestra.

9. German trombones from the late 19th and the early 20th centuries often carried a traditional mark of a pair of snakes dancing across the bell bow. 0 These snakes are called, “Schlangenverzierungen.”

10.  The trombone is rarely heard as a solo instrument, apart from in some jazz music. There are just a few notable trombone soloists, however, predominantly form the 19th century.  The group including C.T. Queisser and F.A. Belcke in Germany, and in France, A.G. Dieppo.


Featured image: “Zoetermeer Jazz 2008.” Photo by FaceMePLS. CC BY 2.0 via Flickr.

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