Skip to main content Skip to Search Box

Definition: trombone from Philip's Encyclopedia

Brass musical instrument with a cylindrical bore, cupped mouthpiece and flaring bell. It is usually played with a slide, except for a variant which has three or four valves. The tenor and bass trombones have a range of three and a half octaves.


Summary Article: trombone from The Columbia Encyclopedia

[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 Gregory, R., The Trombone (1973).
The Columbia Encyclopedia, © Columbia University Press 2017

Related Credo Articles

Full text Article trombone
The Macmillan Encyclopedia

A brass musical instrument, consisting of a cylindrical tube, about 3 m (9 ft) long, turned back upon itself, a cup-shaped mouthpiece, and a...

Full text Article trombone
Britannica Concise Encyclopedia

Brass instrument with an extendable slide with which the length of its tubing can be increased. It has a mostly cylindrical bore and a cup-shaped m

Full text Article cornet
The Columbia Encyclopedia

brass wind musical instrument, created in France about 1830 by adding valves to the post horn. It is usually in B flat and is the same size as the B

See more from Credo