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trombone [Ital.,=large trumpet], brass wind musical instrument of cylindrical bore, twice bent on itself, having a sliding section that lengthens or shortens it and thus regulates the pitch. The descendant of the sackbut, it was developed in the 15th cent. by adding a slide to the trumpet. Early representations of the instrument show it nearly in its present form. Despite its continuous possession of a complete chromatic scale, which was lacking in early trumpets and the French horn, the trombone was far behind them in acceptance into the orchestra. In the 16th cent. it became popular for court and church music. In the 18th cent. it entered the opera orchestra, and Beethoven introduced it into symphonic music. In the enlarged orchestra of the 19th cent., the trombone became increasingly important, being valued for its wide range in pitch and dynamics. It is more often used as an ensemble than as a solo instrument in the orchestra, and it has little solo literature. Three trombones are standard in the orchestra, formerly alto, tenor, and bass. The tenor is most often used today, often with extra tubing that can be cut in by a valve to give it the lower notes of the old bass trombone. The trombone is also widely used in jazz and dance bands. A valved trombone, first produced in Vienna in the 1820s, is frequently used in Latin countries, and by some jazz musicians, but is inferior in tone quality to the slide trombone.


See R. Gregory, The Trombone (1973).

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



a brass instrument. Depictions of and references to the trombone date from the 15th century. The instrument is a long, composite, cylindrical tube that curves twice and terminates in a wide bell; a cup-shaped mouthpiece is placed at the other end of the tube. The bore is about 3,000 mm in length and about 15 mm in diameter. There are slide and valve trombones; the latter appeared in the early 19th century. The six varieties of trombone range from soprano to bass. The trombone is primarily an orchestral instrument.

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


U-shaped, adjustable, coaxial-line matching assembly.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific & Technical Terms, 6E, Copyright © 2003 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.


1. a brass instrument, a low-pitched counterpart of the trumpet, consisting of a tube the effective length of which is varied by means of a U-shaped slide The usual forms of this instrument are the tenor trombone (range: about two and a half octaves upwards from E) and the bass trombone (pitched a fourth lower)
2. a person who plays this instrument in an orchestra
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005
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In what he intends as a source for performers as well as scholars, he looks at the trombone during the 15th and 16th centuries throughout Western Europe with chapters also on Eastern Europe, and Asia, Africa, and the New World.
Obviously you can use the slides to tune any trombone, but our instruments are naturally more in tune - all their harmonics line up - and that is down to the design and the skill of the makers."
But it all began when he was just four years old, growing up in the Trem neighbourhood, in New Orleans, when he was spotted by his older brother, James, marching in a street parade wielding a trombone twice as long as the he was tall.
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