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date: 22 January 2020

Trombone (Fr It. trombone; Ger. Posaune)locked

  • Anthony C. Baines,
  • Arnold Myers
  •  and Trevor Herbert


(Fr It. trombone; Ger. Posaune)

A brass lip-reed aerophone with a predominantly cylindrical bore. The most common trombones are the tenor and bass counterparts of the trumpet. In its most familiar form the trombone is characterized by a telescopic slide with which the player varies the length of the tube; hence the term ‘slide trombone’ (Fr. trombone à coulisse, Ger. Zugposaune, It. trombone a tiro; Fr. and Eng. up to the 18th century, saqueboute, sackbut). Both the Italian and German names for trombone are derived from terms for trumpet: trombone (large trumpet) from the Italian tromba(trumpet), and Posaune from Buzûne, derived in turn from the French buisine (straight trumpet). The etymology of saquebouteis discussed in §7 below. See also Organ stop (Posaune).

Anthony C. Baines, revised by Arnold Myers

The structure of a slide trombone. The two parallel inner tubes of the slide are connected at their upper ends by a cross-stay. The mouthpiece is inserted into the top of one tube; the bell joint fits on to the top of the other, the tube being either tapered externally or attached to the bell by means of a threaded collar (the ‘bell lock’). Over the stationary inner tubes runs the slide proper, which consists of two tubes joined at the bottom by a U-tube known as the ‘slide bow’ (with a water key for releasing condensed moisture) and at the top by a second cross-stay, which the player holds with the right hand. Friction is minimized by slightly thickening the walls of the lowest 120 mm of the inner tubes to provide running surfaces for the outer slide. Formerly these short sleeves or ‘stockings’ were of a different metal (such as phosphor bronze) from that of the slide; in modern manufacture they are formed integrally with the inner tubes, which are of chromium-plated nickel silver. The bore of the modern instrument is cylindrical for about half its length (more with the slide extended), the cylindrical section usually between 12·5 mm and 14·0 mm in diameter, although in bass trombones it may exceed 14 mm. A wide variety of bore sizes is produced by the larger manufacturers, and players select the most appropriate for the repertory and their own characteristics. The bore expands to a markedly flaring bell of brass, occasionally silver, with a terminal diameter ranging from about 20 cm across on a tenor trombone to about 25 cm on a bass. The U-bend of the bell section (the ‘bell bow’) is usually fitted with a tuning-slide and may include a weight to balance the whole instrument in the player's left hand....

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