Soprano Trombone

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The soprano trombone is a brass instrument of the trombone family of instruments that is amongst the smallest and highest in register (exceeded only by the piccolo and sopranino trombone). This aerophone produces sound through a bell that is similar in size to a typical Bb trumpet and uses a slide mechanism to change the pitch of the notes.
History of the Soprano Trombone
The soprano trombone, like all other trombones, has been thought to have been developed from ancestral brass instruments like the slide trumpet that shared the trombone's unique sliding mechanism to change the instrument’s pitch. These trumpets were frequently used in the 13th to 15th century to mark celebratory occasions amongst the nobility of German-speaking territories. During the renaissance era, an instrument called a sackbut lengthened the tubing of the slide trumpet and folded it in a recognisable fashion to today’s soprano trombone. Before the 18th century, tenor trombones were used in religious services to create sounds that signified power and magnificence. It is believed that other types of trombone like the soprano were developed at this time to thicken the sound of the trombones section and create harmony. Classical composers like Berlioz and Beethoven popularised the trombone in their 18th century compositions which then saw a development of trombone ensembles and quartets that appeared in the mid to late 19th century. The soprano trombone became a regular feature of these quartets but in the early 1900s it was also used in jazz by famous trumpet players including Louis Armstrong. The similar size and pitch of a soprano trombone meant that trumpet players found they could play them just as easily. Today the soprano trombone is a less common musical instrument but is still mass produced and used in limited ways by orchestras and ensembles.
Inventor: Unknown

Where to Buy

£120 - £700

Hear the Soprano Trombone

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How to Play

A smaller version of the trombone, pitched higher than the tenor trombone.

In Popular Music

Soprano trombone is less common in popular music than its tenor and bass counterparts, however there are some known recordings. Jazz musician legend Wycliffe Gordon plays a solo version of 'Swing That Music' on the soprano trombone and classical composer JS Bach used the soprano trombone very sparingly in his work.

Famous Players

Arthur Pryor, Joe Alessi, Christian Lindberg

Close Relations

Alto Trombone, Tenor Trombone
Video Credit: Trent Hamilton
Understanding the Soprano Trombone




19th century






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