[JPL] Valve trombones and slide trumpets

Nou Dadoun nou.dadoun at gmail.com
Tue Dec 20 13:47:24 EST 2011

Very interesting, thanks for taking the time to provide such informative
answers; my wife is Managing Director of Early Music Vancouver so I've
actually heard a sackbut ensemble Concerto Palatino (
http://www.concertopalatino.com/Home.html) and baroque trumpets with groups
like The Academy of Ancient Music etc. I would have assumed that it had
something to do with bore size but I didn't know the details or about the
conical/cylindrical distinction between a cornet/trumpet either.


On Tue, Dec 20, 2011 at 5:19 AM, John Simna <jsimna at wclv.com> wrote:

> And as to the slide trumpet as used by Steven Bernstein:  The modern slide
> trumpet is also marketed as a soprano trombone, one octave above the tenor.
> The mouthpiece is about the same as that of a trumpet.  In between the
> soprano and tenor, there's an alto trombone, usually pitched in Eb. The
> family also goes up to a sopranino trombone, also usually pitched in Eb.
>  If
> you hear a trombone choir with all of the family, from contrabass on up,
> the
> sound is qualitatively different from a brass ensemble - rather like
> listening to a singing group who are all brothers and/or sisters - the
> Andrews Sisters, Ames Brothers, Mills Brothers and so on.
> John Simna
> jsimna at wclv.com
> -----Original Message-----
> From: jazzproglist-bounces at jazzweek.com
> [mailto:jazzproglist-bounces at jazzweek.com] On Behalf Of Doug Crane
> Sent: Tuesday, December 20, 2011 4:37 AM
> To: jazzproglist at jazzweek.com
> Subject: Re: [JPL] Valve trombones and slide trumpets
> The trombone (and its precursor, the sackbut) were the first wind/brass
> instruments to be able to play chromatically (all of the individually
> occuring notes between a C and the C an octave above for instance) by
> virtue
> of their slides.  We're talking Renaissance and Baroque eras.  The sackbuts
> were voiced as alto, tenor and bass horns, just as today's trombones are as
> well as double bass.  The only modern equivalent I can think of to the
> latter is Phil Teele's contra-bass trombone work on a couple of the old
> Toshiko Akiyoshi/Lew Tabackin big band sides for RCA from the 1970's.
> Even though trumpet-like horns go back to around 1500 BC, t he valve itself
> is a pretty recent development  from the early 1800's.  Up until the
> utilization of valves, trumpets were largely left to playing only notes
> appearing in the natural harmonic series which would be something like
> this:  If your fundamental or root note is a C, the next occuring note is
> the C an octave above, the G a fifth above that is next, the C a fourth
> above then follows, then the E a third above the C, next is a G, etc.  This
> harmonic series occurs on any brass instrument, whether there's a slide,
> valve or neither a slide or valve.  If you were to use the 2nd valve on the
> trumpet or 2nd position on the trombone, the harmonic series intervals
> would
> be identical.  All of the notes you'd hear would be a half step lower.
> So much for the valve/slide thing.
> Other than that, there's the length of the tubing of the trumpet or
> trombone
> and most significantly, the bore size.  Trumpets have a bore size of around
> .450 to .472 and typically around .459 or so.  Bass trumpets have a bore
> size of around .486 which is invading on the bore size of a trombone.
> Tenor trombones have a bore size of around .484 (a very small tenor like my
> Conn 4H circa 1955) all the way up to around .562 (a typical true bass
> trombone).  Most of the typical small tenors today have a bore size of
> around .500 to .525.
> Both trumpets and trombones are cylindrical designs.  The cornet, which was
> favored by Nat Adderley for example, has a conical design.
> Hopefully you find the info above at least slightly helpful/useful.  It's
> not meant to be definitive either.  Just quick.
> Doug Crane
> KUVO Denver 89.3FM
> dcrane at comcast.net
> ----- Original Message -----
> From: "Nou Dadoun" <nou.dadoun at gmail.com>
> To: jazzproglist at jazzweek.com, "Miles Davis listserv - new"
> <mileslist at googlegroups.com>
> Sent: Tuesday, December 20, 2011 1:07:52 AM
> Subject: [JPL] Valve trombones and slide trumpets
> Last week on the show I had occasion to play a valve trombonist (Bob
> Brookmeyer) and a slide trumpeter (Steven Bernstein with Sex Mob and the
> MTO), no surprises there but it made me wonder since it so conveniently
> reversed what I've always considered to be the defining attributes of the
> two instruments.
> I know the difference between the clarinet family and the saxophone family
> (cylindrical vs conical bores) but what are the true distinguishing
> characteristics of the trumpet and trombone, anybody know?
> N.
Nou Dadoun
The A-Trane on the air since 1986 | CFRO 102.7 FM, Vancouver BC
Fri 2:30-5:30 pm PST | http://coopradio.org/content/trane

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