Best Trombones: A Brief History
The first trombone was invented in 1838 by Johann Friedrich Mendelssohn. It was called a “Mendelstil” (German for “little man”) because it had a small body with large mouthpiece. However, its sound wasn’t very good and it didn’t catch on.
In 1843, William Waring created a new type of trombone which had a larger body and smaller mouthpiece. It was called the “Waring” (English for “small”). It caught on quickly and became popular among musicians and other performers.
However, it didn’t catch on with the general public until 1857 when John Philip Sousa patented his design. His instrument was so successful that he sold thousands of them during his lifetime!
Sousa’s invention was based on the designs of Mendelssohn and Waring. However, unlike those two instruments, Sousa’s had a wider bore and a lighter weight than the previous models. It made it easier for players to play and it was cheaper to make.
It took another six years before Sousa’s design was adopted by most manufacturers. At that time, it cost $10 to build one of these instruments!
Other Trombone Innovations
In 1882, Emile Barnes created the “Spring-Loaded” trombone. It was the invention that allowed instrument manufacturers to improve the trombone’s valve system.
The first valve system allowed players to play notes with less effort. They were also able to play much quicker than before without running out of breath or slurring their words.
In 1885, another German trombonist by the name of Arthur Ebeling created an Eb Bass Trombone. It was the first instrument since Sousa’s design to achieve widespread popularity.
However, the problem with Ebeling’s instrument was that it was rather fragile and expensive to produce. As a result, most manufacturers in the USA continued to build and sell the older instruments. They were cheaper and more rugged.
Emile Bayard created the first “slide trombone” in 1893. It was a radical departure from Ebeling’s design.
The new instrument was quickly adopted by symphony orchestras, but less so by bands and marching musicians. By this time, most performers were already used to the older instruments and they were hesitant to change.
Later innovations include the “double-slide” trombone (1910) and “rotating-cup” bell (1926). These newer technologies improved the sound quality and projection of the instrument. Each design improvement contributed to making the trombone one of the most popular instruments in the world!
What is a Trombone?
A trombone is one of several different instruments in the “brasses” family. They have a history dating back thousands of years. They were used mostly as military instruments in ancient times.
The “brasses” family includes several different instruments. These include the trumpet, cornet, flugelhorn, tuba, and French horn. The main difference between most of these instruments is their size and vocal range.
Many of these instruments are used in bands, orchestras, and other types of music groups. Some are used for ceremonial purposes while others are used solely for entertainment.
The word “trombone” comes from two Latin words:
Tromba – means “trumpet”.
Bone – means “two” or “dual”.
The instrument is also known as the “sackbut” or “sackbutt” by musicians. It’s less common to hear someone refer to it as a “trombonium”, but you will sometimes see that term used.
The trombone is a musical instrument that has a canister, a funnel-like end, a large flared bell, a slide, and ten or more pressed keys. The main purpose of the trombone is to produce musical notes. It is most often used in bands and orchestras.
Trombones are typically conical in shape. They consist of a long tube that has a mouthpiece on one end and a large flared bell on the other.
The flared bell helps to amplify the sound of the instrument so it can be heard over an entire orchestra or band. This is important because the trombone is a very loud and powerful instrument.
The trombone gets its unique voice from a U-shaped bend called the “crook” that joins the tube of the instrument to the bell. This bend directs the sound waves in such a way that they amplify the lower notes of the instrument.
The trombone is a non-pitched instrument. This means that there isn’t a set of tuned musical notes that the player tries to reach with his or her performance. Instead, the person playing the instrument has a lot of flexibility with the way they play.
A person playing a trombone can use specific breathing techniques and movements of their lips to extend or shorten the sound of particular notes.
These “moods” of a trombone can be compared to the different types of voices that an opera singer might use when performing a song. By changing his or her “voicing”, a trombonist can play a single melody in many different ways. They can even play several different melodies at the same time!
The earliest ancestor of the modern trombone was the sackbut. It appeared in Europe around the year 1400. It’s name comes from the Latin word “sackbuta” which means “a rebab”.
This is an Arabic string instrument that was very popular in the time.
The original sackbut was H-shaped. It had a slide, but the player did not hold it like the modern instrument. Instead, both hands were free to pluck at the strings.
Over time, the instrument transformed into a straight tube with a slide and a flared bell. It also developed a more “military” sound. It became popular in court orchestras as the main melody instrument.
Throughout history, the trombone has been used in many different types of music. It was first used as a religious instrument in monasteries and churches. It later became an important instrument in the military bands of Europe.
In the 18th century, the modern trombone was developed. The first great trombonist was Christian Friedrich Ludwig Buschmann. He worked to improve many aspects of the instrument and is now known as the “Father of the Trombone”.
The most popular type of trombone is the tenor trombone. It’s smaller than other types of trombones such as the bass or alto. It was first used in a symphony orchestra by Mozart.
As the trombone is becoming more popular in Eastern music and jazz, new styles of playing and special effects are being developed. The Japanese invented a type of mute that allows the trombonist to play very quietly. This has opened up many new possibilities for the creative player.
Today, there are still many great uses for the trombone in bands and orchestras. Many professional trombonists are still working today. Many modern composers have created music for the trombone that shows how versatile and expressive this instrument can be.
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Sources & references used in this article:
Online Education:’76 Trombones and a Big Parade’ by JW Johnson, HL Gates – 2008 – Penguin Classics
Some truths behind the trombones? by JJ Tillman – Thought & Action: The NEA Higher Education Journal, 2001 – 22.214.171.124
Transhumanism, Moral Perfection, and Those 76 Trombones by LA King – Psychological Inquiry, 2003 – JSTOR