Trombones Essay, Research Paper
The trombone appeared after the mid-15th century, evidently as an advance on the Renaissance slide trumpet, and was possibly first produced by Flemish makers who supplied wind instruments to the court of Burgundy. Virdung’s Musica getutsht (1511) includes a woodcut of a trombone that closely resembles the earliest surviving instruments – tenor trombones by Erasmus Schnitzer (1551; now in Nuremberg, Germanishes National museum) and Jorg Neuschel (1557; formerly in the Galpin Collection, now owned by Ren Clemencic, Vienna). Structural changes during the 16th and 17th centuries included enlargement of the bell and alterations to the stays. Throughout the 16th century the trombone was a regular member of town and court bands. In the earliest works with specified instrumentation trombones figure prominently. They were the Gabrieli’s’ main vehicle for the lower parts, and one of Giovanni Gabrieli’s canzonas requires 12 trombones which play every part from alto downwards in three juxtaposed choirs, the treble parts being taken by two cornets and a violin. Sch tz employed up to four trombones both in lively figuration in imitation of other instruments and in slow-moving polyphony. The 16th-and 17th-century trombone was designed as an instrument of medium sonority. Technically the trombone was considered hardly less agile than cornet or violin, and Mersenne knew a player who could improvise divisions in semiquaves (trombone divisions with semiquavers occur in Francesco Rognone-Taeggio’s Selva di varii passaggi, Venice, 1620). Some English and German 17th-century music for a band of two cornets and three trombones (alto, tenor and bass) survives. In Germany the reorganization of military bands gave the trombone the role of strengthening the
bass line, though the trio was maintained in large infantry bands as well as in the orchestra. At the same time the trend in France and Germany was towards performing all orchestral trombone parts on the Bb tenor instrument. Early in the 19th century in Germany Gottfried Weber and Fr hlich recommended playing the Bb trombone with a small mouthpiece for alto parts, and using a wider-bore Bb instrument with 8 large mouthpiece for bass. Up to the mid-century German tenor trombones usually retained the traditional bore of 11 4 mm, while the bass trombones were proportionately wider and had broadly expanding bells to add to the volume of their tone. The use of large-bore tenors (essentially tenor trombones built with the bore and bell of an F bass trombone) began after 1850, in military bands. Brahms wrote for large-bore instruments; consequently leading English players even into the early 20th century changed to instruments of wider bore for works by Brahms and Richard Strauss and for the later works of Wagner. Over-the-shoulder trombones were also used in at least one American band (the Boston Brass Band) to match the design of the other instruments, which were all over-the-shoulder horns. 19th century composers often limited themselves to a stereotyped usage of the trombone for reinforcement of tutti passages and for background harmonies in soft passages; because of the preponderance of 19th-century music in 20th-century concert programs, it is with these least interesting sides of the trombone’s character that audiences are most familiar. Vibrato always a technical possibility has become part of the trombone soloist’s style. Slide technique has become more flexible, and the instrument’s range has been extended at both ends, making the feasible range of the tenor trombone from E, the lowest pedal note, to g” or above.