The trombone is a cylindrical brass instrument, with a fairly low range and a distinctive slide that can be used to change the pitch. Trombones sound clear and direct, and can be used to play jazz, big band or classical music. Several different sizes of trombone exist, but the size that is most commonly called "the trombone" is the tenor trombone. Most bands and orchestras have both a tenor trombone and a bass trombone. Each of these instruments has a different repertoire, and different famous pieces that are used to showcase the instrument and player.
"Getting Sentimental Over You," by George Bassman & Ned Washington
"Getting Sentimental Over You" is a classic big band trombone piece, made famous by a recording by Tommy Dorsey. Dorsey exhibits an extraordinary range and tone in his performance of this piece, making it a piece that all trombone players and enthusiasts should know.
”Just a Closer Walk,” by Don Gillis
"Just a Closer Walk" is a classic New Orleans funeral-style brass quintet that features a fun trombone solo. It starts slowly, like a dirge, but then the tempo increases as the song progresses. This piece is so famous among trombone players that many players memorize it and play it regularly.
"Sonata for Trombone," by Paul Hindemith
Hindemith composed sonatas for almost every instrument and his Sonata for Trombone is so famous that a study by the International Trombone Association suggests that it is the most commonly performed piece by trombonists at university recitals. The piece is challenging and modern, and has an especially difficult and interesting part for the piano accompanist. Hindemith didn't write a sonata for the bass trombone, but many bass trombonists will play either his Tuba Sonata or his Sonata for Alto Horn. Hindemith's "Drei Leichte Stuecke" and "Three Easy Pieces for Cello" can also be performed on bass trombone.
"Requiem," by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
In “Tuba Mirum” from Mozart’s "Requiem," there is a beautiful trombone melody in the second part. It is among the most frequently used audition pieces because it challenges the trombone player's ability to play in a controlled legato style. In Mozart's compositions, trombones are often used for dramatic evocations of divine or supernatural forces, such as in "Don Giovanni," when the trombone marks the appearance of the ghost.
"Blue Bells of Scotland," by Arthur Pryor
"Blue Bells of Scotland" is a famous trombone solo with variations. It was composed by Arthur Pryor, who played with the J.P. Sousa band from 1893-1903. Even trombonists without the skills to play all the variations are still familiar with the lovely basic tune. Pryor has other great and well-known themes and variations for the trombone as well.
- Brass Music Online: Trombone Music -- Six Important Pieces for Trombone
- Connections: Trombones; Catherine Schmidt-Jones
- Douglas Yeo: College Level Bass Trombone Repetoire
- Online Trombone Journal: Recital Repertoire of the Trombone as Shown by Programs Published by the International Trombone Association; David Guion
Karen Smith has been writing professionally since 2008. Her articles are published in the "Encyclopedia of Muslim-American History" and the upcoming "Dictionary of African Biography," as well as on Patheos.com and in volumes of "Anthropology News," "Contemporary Islam," "Islamic Africa" and "American Ethnologist." She has a Doctor of Philosophy in anthropology.