Most of us have that one friend that speaks loudly, even when they whisper. But boy, do they have a dynamic personality! Ladies and gentlemen, your friend is the embodiment of the ever brassy, lively trombone. With a generally spherical build, flared bell, and of course the slide, this instrument produces one of the most unique tone colors out there.
Origin: Medieval Europe
With the word trombone literally translating to paperclip in French (no really, look it up!), it is no wonder the trombone is one of the most unique instruments in existence. The mechanism necessary for creating new tones is the slide that either shortens or elongates the entire instrument. You may have seen David Finlayson's YouTube video with a camera on his slide - it really shows how it works!
Trombones are essential to many performing ensembles - classically, you can find a trombone in any full symphony orchestra, brass choir, or in many brass chamber groups (no woodwind groups - that's exclusive to the French horn). The David Concerto for Trombone featured in the opening of this article (pronounced Da-VEED) is a perfect example of classical trombone repertoire. A more modern classical piece is John Mackey's Harvest Concerto for Trombone. Check out Columbus State University's performance with trombone professor Bradley Palmer!
I simply cannot ignore one of the most dynamic ensembles that utilizes the trombone - jazz bands, from early to modern. Trombones are the middle-low voice of a standard jazz ensemble, blending the saxophones with the trumpets to create a well-rounded sound (like the base of a fine wine, you could say). But they have some great solo opportunities, too! Wycliffe Gordon performs with Corey Band in this video - take note of the crazy sounds he can create using just one instrument! At one point he is humming while playing, an extended technique. He also takes a break to scat-sing an awesome improvisation.
The brass section of the BBC National Orchestra of Wales
The trombone is truly one-of-a-kind. If you are looking for something a little spicier, look no further to get the party started. The trombone also works in groups with small jazz combos or a full-fledged jazz ensemble!