Trombone/Keys and Scales

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Key of a Trombone[edit | edit source]

The traditional straight tenor trombone is written in the key of C,and it is in "Concert Pitch." This means that trombone, unlike many other wind instruments, will have the same notes and note names as a piano.

Many trombones have an "F key" or "F attachment" which adds piping to the trombone allowing it to play in the key of F. This is often used to improve the tuning of the instrument as it gets farther down the scale, or to make faster passages less difficult to play.

Bass Trombones often have two rotors valves which can have an F attachment or a Db attachment. sometimes these can be played at the same time to produce an even lower tone.

Scales[edit | edit source]

The trombone can play in any scale, however generally the easiest and most common are the first few flatted keys. Bb, Eb, Ab, Db. These are the keys most commonly played in beginning trombone music.

Scales are often learned in terms of slide position, for example, 2 octaves of the Bb scale would be: 1 6 4 3 1 4 2 1 3 1 3 1 #2 2 1. Gradually, as the player progresses, this should be developed into knowing the notes of the scale as well to encourage the understanding of what they are playing, not just how.

You may notice the notation "#2" in the scale numbers above, this indicates a "short second," the slide is moved slightly closer to the mouthpiece (a process which takes a great deal of practice and good ear) to produce a more in tune note than the "normal" position for the note. Such "short" positions are generally only used in the very upper reaches of a trombone's range. Flat positions are more commonly used for trombonists in the valve or F-attachment range like an E below the staff being in b2 position.