Trombone family compared to other families of instruments

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Re: Trombone family compared to other families of instruments

Post by brassmedic » Tue Jul 16, 2019 1:55 pm

It's interesting how nomenclature becomes such a big part of this. I've had conversations where I pointed out that french horn and tenor trombone with a valve are in exactly the same key. The response I usually get is, "No they're not; french horn is in F". Why do we say that? Because a lot (but not all) of the music they read is transposed to F? Does the key of the music they read change the sound of the instrument? Both trombone and horn are Bb length instruments with a valve that adds an additional length of tubing that puts it in the key of F. The only difference is that some horns have the linkage set so that the default is F. But some don't, and some have a reversible linkage. Still exactly the same instrument; just a matter of whether your thumb is up or down.

So then the bass trombone is actually longer than the french horn. Let's say I built a triple french horn in low D, F, and Bb. We'd probably call it a bass french horn in D. But the bass trombone is said to be in Bb. I'll say it again: Using the nominal key of the instrument to determine its function doesn't make any sense.
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Re: Trombone family compared to other families of instruments

Post by brtnats » Thu Jul 18, 2019 8:31 am

Tangent:

I’m playing in a reading band this summer. We read a piece last week that included BOTH parts for “Trombone in Bb” and “Trombone in C.” Same part, both in bass clef, one for a non-transporting instrument and one for a transporting instrument. Ditto “Euphonium in C” and “Euphonium in Bb” (both bass clef), Eb tuba (transposed like a bari sax), Tuba in C (non-transposing) and Tuba in Bb (bass clef, transported). What the heck?! The liner notes said parts were included to accommodate different international standards.

In what universe is “Bb Trombone” in a transposing bass clef part a thing?! Or Eb tuba that’s transposed?
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Re: Trombone family compared to other families of instruments

Post by imsevimse » Thu Jul 18, 2019 9:56 am

brtnats wrote:
Thu Jul 18, 2019 8:31 am
Tangent:

I’m playing in a reading band this summer. We read a piece last week that included BOTH parts for “Trombone in Bb” and “Trombone in C.” Same part, both in bass clef, one for a non-transporting instrument and one for a transporting instrument. Ditto “Euphonium in C” and “Euphonium in Bb” (both bass clef), Eb tuba (transposed like a bari sax), Tuba in C (non-transposing) and Tuba in Bb (bass clef, transported). What the heck?! The liner notes said parts were included to accommodate different international standards.

In what universe is “Bb Trombone” in a transposing bass clef part a thing?! Or Eb tuba that’s transposed?
I've seen classical Dutch music where trombone parts were in bass clef in Bb. That's the only time I've seen it in professional editions and also as the only option. Once I played a gig in a church with brass quartet a choire where both trombone parts were in Bb in bass clef. The organ player was the arranger of all pieces and I believe he did that because he had no clue. A lot of Bb bass clef reading that gig. That said Bb parts in bass clef in Bb is very rare even in my part of the world.

Eb tuba and Bb tuba parts on the other hand often are written transposed but then always in g-clef. It is normal in the British brass band tradition that we also have over here.

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Re: Trombone family compared to other families of instruments

Post by BGuttman » Thu Jul 18, 2019 9:59 am

brtnats wrote:
Thu Jul 18, 2019 8:31 am
Tangent:

I’m playing in a reading band this summer. We read a piece last week that included BOTH parts for “Trombone in Bb” and “Trombone in C.” Same part, both in bass clef, one for a non-transporting instrument and one for a transporting instrument. Ditto “Euphonium in C” and “Euphonium in Bb” (both bass clef), Eb tuba (transposed like a bari sax), Tuba in C (non-transposing) and Tuba in Bb (bass clef, transported). What the heck?! The liner notes said parts were included to accommodate different international standards.

In what universe is “Bb Trombone” in a transposing bass clef part a thing?! Or Eb tuba that’s transposed?
A lot of these parts are called "International parts" and seem to show up in different pieces. I haven't found anybody who uses them. Transposed treble clef trombone, baritone/euphonium, Eb tuba, and Bb tuba in treble clef are used in Brass Bands, although most of those players can use C bass clef as well. There are some Tenor Tuba parts in Strauss tone poems that are transposed bass clef, but I haven't had the need to deal with one of them, thank heavens.

I had one case where they really spoiled my day. We had a euphonium solo and were sent parts to print out. There were Trombone in Bb and Trombone in C both bass clef and they had the identical key signature! I printed out a set for my section and picked the wrong ones. What a mess when we started to play! Normally a transposed World Part will be in a transposed key signature and that becomes a giveaway as to which one to use (if it matches the trumpet key signature it's transposed). The identical key signatures must have been an error.
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Re: Trombone family compared to other families of instruments

Post by JohnL » Thu Jul 18, 2019 1:35 pm

brassmedic wrote:
Tue Jul 16, 2019 1:55 pm
It's interesting how nomenclature becomes such a big part of this. I've had conversations where I pointed out that french horn and tenor trombone with a valve are in exactly the same key. The response I usually get is, "No they're not; french horn is in F". Why do we say that? Because a lot (but not all) of the music they read is transposed to F? Does the key of the music they read change the sound of the instrument? Both trombone and horn are Bb length instruments with a valve that adds an additional length of tubing that puts it in the key of F. The only difference is that some horns have the linkage set so that the default is F. But some don't, and some have a reversible linkage. Still exactly the same instrument; just a matter of whether your thumb is up or down.
The Bb/F full double horn poses an interesting question: Is it a Bb instrument with an extension to F, and F instrument with a bypass to Bb, or is it two separate horns that share a leadpipe and a bell?
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Re: Trombone family compared to other families of instruments

Post by Posaunus » Thu Jul 18, 2019 5:03 pm

JohnL wrote:
Thu Jul 18, 2019 1:35 pm
The B♭/F full double horn poses an interesting question: Is it a B♭ instrument with an extension to F, an F instrument with a bypass to B♭, or is it two separate horns that share a leadpipe and a bell?
For some reason, even though I play a B♭ trombone with an "F-attachment" I like to think of the double horn as two separate horns, Siamesed (conjoined, I guess is the modern terminology) into one lead pipe and bell. :idk:
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Re: Trombone family compared to other families of instruments

Post by JohnL » Thu Jul 18, 2019 5:18 pm

Posaunus wrote:
Thu Jul 18, 2019 5:03 pm
JohnL wrote:
Thu Jul 18, 2019 1:35 pm
The B♭/F full double horn poses an interesting question: Is it a B♭ instrument with an extension to F, an F instrument with a bypass to B♭, or is it two separate horns that share a leadpipe and a bell?
For some reason, even though I play a B♭ trombone with an "F-attachment" I like to think of the double horn as two separate horns, Siamesed (conjoined, I guess is the modern terminology) into one lead pipe and bell. :idk:
I think that's because there's a fair amount of the horn that's exclusive to one side of the other. On a Bb/F trombone, you're playing through the "Bb side" all of the time; on a full double horn, you're plaything through either the Bb side or the F side. A compensating double is more analogous to a Bb/F trombone; the Bb portion is always in the circuit; the F tubing is added to the Bb tubing rather than taking its place.

There are those (Eliezer Aharoni, for example) who promote thinking of a Bb/F trombone as a double horn (with a dependent double being a "triple" and an indy double being a "quadruple").
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Re: Trombone family compared to other families of instruments

Post by brassmedic » Fri Jul 19, 2019 12:59 am

JohnL wrote:
Thu Jul 18, 2019 5:18 pm

I think that's because there's a fair amount of the horn that's exclusive to one side of the other. On a Bb/F trombone, you're playing through the "Bb side" all of the time; on a full double horn, you're plaything through either the Bb side or the F side. A compensating double is more analogous to a Bb/F trombone; the Bb portion is always in the circuit; the F tubing is added to the Bb tubing rather than taking its place.
Not really. The air goes through the same leadpipe, same tuning slide, same outer branch, and same bell. The air path only diverges at the valves. The F side adds a length of tubing and routes the air through the other valve tubing, but it only does this because the valve lengths need to be increased. They used to make Bb/A cornets with a mechanism that automatically lengthened the valve slides by the correct amount when the instrument was switched into A. This served the same purpose as having double valves on a french horn, but used the same valves for both sides. On a trombone, infinitely minute adjustment of the slide is possible, so altering the mechanism isn't needed. You could build a trombone with 2 slides, but there's no point. It wouldn't change the sound and it wouldn't change the function of the instrument.
There are those (Eliezer Aharoni, for example) who promote thinking of a Bb/F trombone as a double horn (with a dependent double being a "triple" and an indy double being a "quadruple").
The Bb/F trombone was invented as such and was called a tenorbass. It was conceived as a double instrument. The basic design hasn't changed. It's still a double instrument whether we call it that or not. The only thing that has changed is nomenclature.
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Re: Trombone family compared to other families of instruments

Post by brassmedic » Fri Jul 19, 2019 1:03 am

JohnL wrote:
Thu Jul 18, 2019 1:35 pm

The Bb/F full double horn poses an interesting question: Is it a Bb instrument with an extension to F, and F instrument with a bypass to Bb, or is it two separate horns that share a leadpipe and a bell?
Or are those just 3 ways of describing the same thing?
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Re: Trombone family compared to other families of instruments

Post by jthomas105 » Fri Jul 19, 2019 11:04 am

Then a more accurate description of the what we call an "F attachment" trombone would be a "double trombone". The same way a F/Bb French horn is called a double horn vs. a single horn in F or single in Bb.

I have found that it helps to explain to my students when we begin to use the thumb valve they actually have two different trombones in one. Until I started doing this they really struggled with understanding why the the positions are longer when using the thumb valve. Once they understand the thumb valve instrument only has 6 positions that has always helped. Same way a student on French horn has to learn the Bb fingerings when they use the "thumb valve" on a double horn.
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Re: Trombone family compared to other families of instruments

Post by Finetales » Sat Jul 20, 2019 6:29 pm

jthomas105 wrote:
Fri Jul 19, 2019 11:04 am
Then a more accurate description of the what we call an "F attachment" trombone would be a "double trombone". The same way a F/Bb French horn is called a double horn vs. a single horn in F or single in Bb.
Not really. If you assume that the slide performs the same role as the first 3 valves of a brass instrument (which it does, with the addition of continuous glissing etc.), the Bb/F trombone is an exact equivalent in tubing length and technical (not musical) function as a single Bb horn with an F extension installed into the 4th valve, which is a very different thing than a double horn (and not nearly as useful).
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Re: Trombone family compared to other families of instruments

Post by brassmedic » Sun Jul 21, 2019 1:31 am

Finetales wrote:
Sat Jul 20, 2019 6:29 pm
Not really. If you assume that the slide performs the same role as the first 3 valves of a brass instrument (which it does, with the addition of continuous glissing etc.), the Bb/F trombone is an exact equivalent in tubing length and technical (not musical) function as a single Bb horn with an F extension installed into the 4th valve, which is a very different thing than a double horn (and not nearly as useful).
A trombone slide is NOT an exact technical equivalent to 3 valves. A trombone slide is infinitely adjustable. Valve tubing is of fixed length. Not even close to being equivalent. You can use longer positions on the F side of the trombone. This serves the exact same function as having a second, longer set of valves on a french horn. The slide doesn't just perform the same role as the first 3 valves; it performs the role of BOTH sets of 3 valves. So why would you say a french horn is a double instrument but a trombone is not?
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Re: Trombone family compared to other families of instruments

Post by Finetales » Sun Jul 21, 2019 2:50 am

brassmedic wrote:
Sun Jul 21, 2019 1:31 am
A trombone slide is NOT an exact technical equivalent to 3 valves. A trombone slide is infinitely adjustable. Valve tubing is of fixed length. Not even close to being equivalent. You can use longer positions on the F side of the trombone. This serves the exact same function as having a second, longer set of valves on a french horn. The slide doesn't just perform the same role as the first 3 valves; it performs the role of BOTH sets of 3 valves.
Obviously valves and a slide are different mechanisms, but from purely an equal tempered notes standpoint they are identical in purpose. The lowest both 3 standard valves and a standard 7-position trombone slide can lower the pitch is a tritone, yes? Thus allowing both instruments to play chromatically down to the gap between the tritone below the second partial and the fundamental. That's all that I meant. A straight tenor trombone and a valve trombone with 3 valves can play and are missing exactly the same notes without false tones. Different mechanisms, same note options. So, adding a quart valve to either will also do the same thing, and I think we can agree that a valve trombone with 4 valves is not a double instrument.
So why would you say a french horn is a double instrument but a trombone is not?
Ignoring the gap just above the fundamental, the tenor trombone with the F valve permanently pressed down is still not a chromatic instrument. It's missing the low B and low Gb because the slide is only long enough for 6 positions. Sure we can play these 6 positions in tune because we have a slide, but it's still not chromatic. Except for the ultra low Sarah Willis register, you could play the entirely of the French horn repertoire on either side of a double horn alone. That's not at all true with a Bb/F trombone, especially not including bass trombone parts if we're going by the "tenorbass" thing. The F "side" is fundamentally subservient to the Bb side because only the Bb slide exists. On a double horn both sides are equal. Additionally, tenor trombonists almost never use the valve for anything but slide position convenience and the extra low notes. I don't know any player, tenor or bass, that plays some passages entirely on the valve because they prefer the F "side" sound for that passage, whereas horn players switch sides constantly all over the range of the instrument. It's for a lot more than some extra low notes and alternate fingerings.

It's great that the slide enables us to play the F (and D) valve notes in tune without having to use alternate fingerings and heavy lipping, but I think it's a big stretch to consider a trombone with F attachment a double instrument in the same category as the double horn. As I said before, there is a French horn that can play exactly the same notes a trombone with F attachment can play, in the same way of adding quart valve tubing to the existing chromatic 9' Bb tubing, and it's a 4-valve single horn. I do think that the original concept of the tenorbass trombone as being both a tenor and bass trombone in one is indeed analogous to a double horn, but is a conceptual distinction that doesn't reach the actual physical construction of the instrument.
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Re: Trombone family compared to other families of instruments

Post by brtnats » Sun Jul 21, 2019 7:44 am

I can’t speak to the ENTIRETY of the horn repertoire, but I remember from horn lessons 15 years ago that horns still have a chromatic gap between their 2nd partial and their fundamentals if they’ve only got 3 valves. All brass instruments do that only have 3 valves. The double wrap on the horn is as essential to a fully chromatic range as the F attachment.

Also, I’d venture that today’s F attachments are different than attachments from even 40 years ago. The Conn 88H had a quick pull to E. Ditto Olds and close-wrapped Bachs. French bass trombones were built in Bb/E or Bb/Eb to be fully chromatic. Some oven had an E hand-turn valve on the F attachment. It wasn’t until open wraps became the norm that we lost a fully chromatic instrument on the tenorbass.

From that point of view, I’d lean a little more towards equating the Bb/F trombone with the F/Bb horn. It IS two different pitch sets with different functions. The F set is geared for work below middle C, the Bb for above, and there’s an overlap. That’s the exact same way a double horn is operated, if not exactly built.
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Re: Trombone family compared to other families of instruments

Post by brassmedic » Sun Jul 21, 2019 3:39 pm

Finetales wrote:
Sun Jul 21, 2019 2:50 am
brassmedic wrote:
Sun Jul 21, 2019 1:31 am
A trombone slide is NOT an exact technical equivalent to 3 valves. A trombone slide is infinitely adjustable. Valve tubing is of fixed length. Not even close to being equivalent. You can use longer positions on the F side of the trombone. This serves the exact same function as having a second, longer set of valves on a french horn. The slide doesn't just perform the same role as the first 3 valves; it performs the role of BOTH sets of 3 valves.
Obviously valves and a slide are different mechanisms, but from purely an equal tempered notes standpoint they are identical in purpose. The lowest both 3 standard valves and a standard 7-position trombone slide can lower the pitch is a tritone, yes? Thus allowing both instruments to play chromatically down to the gap between the tritone below the second partial and the fundamental. That's all that I meant. A straight tenor trombone and a valve trombone with 3 valves can play and are missing exactly the same notes without false tones. Different mechanisms, same note options. So, adding a quart valve to either will also do the same thing, and I think we can agree that a valve trombone with 4 valves is not a double instrument.
I'm not sure what your point is here. As I said, the slide not only has capability to lower the pitch a tritone, it ALSO can play any pitch BETWEEN the equal tempered chromatic notes. Therefore, it can play the notes on the F side in tune, with the lengthened tubing needed when you change the key of the instrument to F. So no, it's not anything at all like a valve trombone with 4 valves. I think you could make a decent argument that a 4 valve trombone is not a double instrument, because the "trigger" notes aren't really available, as they would be extremely out of tune with the Bb length valve tubing. A compensating 4 valve Euphonium, on the other hand, is more of a double instrument.
Ignoring the gap just above the fundamental, the tenor trombone with the F valve permanently pressed down is still not a chromatic instrument.
Why do you ignore one gap, yet consider another gap to be a deal breaker? If your argument is that a gap disqualifies the instrument from being double, then the french horn is also disqualified. I don't think it's a valid line of reasoning. There is only one note that is unavailable on Bb/F trombone, and can be had by pulling the F slide out. Besides, that note is almost never written for single valve trombone, just like the "gap" notes aren't written for french horn.
It's missing the low B and low Gb because the slide is only long enough for 6 positions. Sure we can play these 6 positions in tune because we have a slide, but it's still not chromatic. Except for the ultra low Sarah Willis register, you could play the entirely of the French horn repertoire on either side of a double horn alone. That's not at all true with a Bb/F trombone, especially not including bass trombone parts if we're going by the "tenorbass" thing.
I don't think this is a real distinction. French Horn players don't play exclusively on the F side. They use the Bb side when it serves their purpose, just like trombone players do. This is exactly the point I was originally making: This idea that french horn is "in F" but tenor-bass trombone is "in Bb", is purely theoretical. That alleged distinction does not reflect how the instruments actually function.
The F "side" is fundamentally subservient to the Bb side because only the Bb slide exists. On a double horn both sides are equal. Additionally, tenor trombonists almost never use the valve for anything but slide position convenience and the extra low notes. I don't know any player, tenor or bass, that plays some passages entirely on the valve because they prefer the F "side" sound for that passage, whereas horn players switch sides constantly all over the range of the instrument. It's for a lot more than some extra low notes and alternate fingerings.
I don't think that's really true. I once asked a horn player colleague why they make horns that default to F. His answer was, "Because horn players delude themselves into thinking they play on the F side more."
It's great that the slide enables us to play the F (and D) valve notes in tune without having to use alternate fingerings and heavy lipping, but I think it's a big stretch to consider a trombone with F attachment a double instrument in the same category as the double horn. As I said before, there is a French horn that can play exactly the same notes a trombone with F attachment can play, in the same way of adding quart valve tubing to the existing chromatic 9' Bb tubing, and it's a 4-valve single horn.
I do think that the original concept of the tenorbass trombone as being both a tenor and bass trombone in one is indeed analogous to a double horn, but is a conceptual distinction that doesn't reach the actual physical construction of the instrument.
No, it's the other way around. They are physically analagous, and the distinction is only conceptual.
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Re: Trombone family compared to other families of instruments

Post by brassmedic » Sun Jul 21, 2019 9:31 pm

By the way, this has gone so far afield, let me say that I'm not, nor was I ever, claiming that a Bb/F trombone is exactly like a Bb/F french horn. I'm just saying that as far as how the instruments function, they are in the same key. The range is similar, and both use the F and Bb sides on a regular basis. I actually don't care whether you call one a "double instrument" and not the other. That's not even the point, and I regret getting sucked into that argument. They both function in the orchestra in the same tessitura. If anything, the tessitura of the french horn tends to be higher than that of the trombone, so to say the instrument is in a lower key is merely an abstract convention, not a practical reality.
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Re: Trombone family compared to other families of instruments

Post by Basbasun » Mon Jul 22, 2019 4:26 am

The tenor Bb/F trombone is a tenor beacuse of its sound and tessitura, the bass Bb/F (/D) trombone is a bass for the same reason.
The double horn has good high range inspite of its lenght, also a poor low range for its length compare to bass trombone and tuba.
I know it is said many times now, but the lenght does not say if it is a bass or tenor when it commes to trombone.

Intresting to read many comments above.
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Re: Trombone family compared to other families of instruments

Post by Finetales » Mon Jul 29, 2019 12:59 am

^Agreed, this has been a good discussion.
brassmedic wrote:
Sun Jul 21, 2019 3:39 pm
As I said, the slide not only has capability to lower the pitch a tritone, it ALSO can play any pitch BETWEEN the equal tempered chromatic notes. Therefore, it can play the notes on the F side in tune, with the lengthened tubing needed when you change the key of the instrument to F. So no, it's not anything at all like a valve trombone with 4 valves.

I think you could make a decent argument that a 4 valve trombone is not a double instrument, because the "trigger" notes aren't really available, as they would be extremely out of tune with the Bb length valve tubing.
You can play all the "trigger notes" in tune just fine on a 4-valve instrument by playing one fingering down and slightly lipping into place as necessary. They're available just as much as they are on the F attachment, just a little more work. Same with 4-valve flugelhorns...all the extra notes are very usable. What would be the point otherwise?
A compensating 4 valve Euphonium, on the other hand, is more of a double instrument.
Compensating double horns which can play both sides in tune without two separate sets of tubing also exist, and are distinct from full doubles. With that in mind I suppose those could be considered the most analogous to a Bb/F trombone. They play both keys in tune by being based in Bb and adding appropriate tubing lengths for the F side.

I could agree that being as compensating doubles have the exact same tubing length and routing as compensating euphoniums, you could consider compensating euphs doubles of sort. However, the F "side" of a compensating euph plays a lot worse than the Bb side, at least on all the ones I've played. That said, plenty of double horns have one side that's not as good as the other, so I guess I got myself on that one.
If your argument is that a gap disqualifies the instrument from being double, then the french horn is also disqualified.
No it is not...a full double horn has no gaps at all, all the way down. Where one side stops, the other picks up seamlessly. That was my entire point. It has no limitations of range like the F attachment trombone does. I absolutely agree that the two are functionally/musically analogous! But as far as the technical layout of the tubing goes, they are distinct, which was all I was trying to say (probably not very well).
I don't think this is a real distinction. French Horn players don't play exclusively on the F side.
I agree. I think horn is mostly thought to be "in F" because the music is written mostly in F and the double horn was developed from the single F horn, but a double horn definitely isn't just "in F".
I don't think that's really true. I once asked a horn player colleague why they make horns that default to F. His answer was, "Because horn players delude themselves into thinking they play on the F side more."
I didn't say that horn players play the F side more, but that both sides are equal (in scope and function). Truthfully many European horn players and I would guess all high horn players play very much more on the Bb side.
No, it's the other way around. They are physically analagous, and the distinction is only conceptual.
We will have to agree to disagree I suppose. The physical layout of the instrument is the one thing I cannot agree is analogous to a Bb/F trombone, for the reasons outlined above. Functionally and musically absolutely.
By the way, this has gone so far afield, let me say that I'm not, nor was I ever, claiming that a Bb/F trombone is exactly like a Bb/F french horn. I'm just saying that as far as how the instruments function, they are in the same key. The range is similar, and both use the F and Bb sides on a regular basis. I actually don't care whether you call one a "double instrument" and not the other. That's not even the point, and I regret getting sucked into that argument. They both function in the orchestra in the same tessitura. If anything, the tessitura of the french horn tends to be higher than that of the trombone, so to say the instrument is in a lower key is merely an abstract convention, not a practical reality.
Agreed with all of this!
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Re: Trombone family compared to other families of instruments

Post by Basbasun » Mon Jul 29, 2019 5:05 am

"You can play all the "trigger notes" in tune just fine on a 4-valve instrument by playing one fingering down and slightly lipping into place as necessary. They're available just as much as they are on the F attachment, just a little more work. Same with 4-valve flugelhorns...all the extra notes are very usable. What would be the point otherwise?
Well, if you except bad sound and sad projection it is ok. For me it is not ok. Low Eb on 1,4 is a quarter tone sharp, Low Eb on 1,2,4 is a quarter ton flat. Low D is close with 2,3,4 just a bit flat low Db on 134 sharp 1234 flat low C non existent. Of course you lip the tone in tune, but very usable is only for situations with not to much demand.

When we are talking about range, a French horn player with very good low range is still not low enough to play the lowest tone written for bass trombone in lets say Woitzeck by Alban Berg or Within By S-O Sandström.

There is a differns betwen Bb-F tenor trombone and Bb-F(-D) bass trombone. If you like to say both are tenor trombones, fine with me, but you may have problems get across to people when talking aboy trombones. Why not except the way people talk? No problem?

In the old days a tenor-bass was a tenor that could play the low tones with more sound, the F attachment maid both the tenor and bass more flexible and the low tones easier, the differnce now was the bigger sound and easier and louder lower tones
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