No Jazz band would be complete without the trombone. Just like the trumpet, the trombone is a brass instrument with a bell on one end. Notes are changed by using the slide and a mute further changes the character of the instrument.
History of the Trombone
The trombone, also known as a bone, was made famous by the Duke of Burgundy who enjoyed the instrument as part of a dance band in his court. The trombone was first used independently in 1807 by composer Joachim Nicolas Eggert in his Symphony in E Flat, however Beethoven is typically credited with the trombone’s introduction. He used it in the final movement of his Symphony No. 5 in C minor as well as his Pastoral and Choral.
By the 1840s the trombone was fully integrated into the orchestra and was also being used in operas and other compositions. In the 20th century, music education and marching bands became popular in public U.S. schools, bringing the trombone into national popularity. Dixieland Jazz used the trombone as a support instrument while in Swing Jazz the trombone became a popular solo instrument.
Playing a Trombone
Today, the trombone most commonly used are the tenor and bass. The slide is moved to change notes. If breath is continually blown while the slide changes position, it produces a gliding sound. By stopping and starting breaths, trombones can hit individual notes.
Mutes are used to change the timbre and to create a “wah-wah” effect unlike any other instrument. Some trombone players believe the materials used to construct the instruments affect the sound. Most commonly, yellow brass is used to make the body of the instrument while the bell is crafted from either two separate sheets or hammered from a single piece. In some instances, the bell is made from sterling silver.
Next time you’re at any of our Jazz Kitchen locations, chat with the trombone player. See what they love about the instrument.