The Brass Family

The Trombone

Part of the brass family, the trombone was originally played in religious settings before becoming part of the orchestra. While there are various kinds of trombones, with different registers and mechanisms, there are generally two tenor trombones and one bass trombone in an orchestra. The trombone player blows and makes their lips vibrate against each other, called buzzing, holding the instrument in front of himself or herself.

The trombone section of the Orchestre Métropolitain

Did you know?

Trombone players use their right arm to extend and retract a long tube called the slide in order to change the pitch of the instrument.

Musical excerpts

In the first excerpt, from Mahler’s Symphony No. 2, the trombone section plays in harmony with itself, accompanied by the tuba and the contrabassoon. In the second excerpt, from Mahler’s 3rd Symphony, this time, we hear the Principal trombone play the melody by themselves, called a solo. In the third excerpt, from the famous Bolero by Maurice Ravel, the trombone player uses their slide to perform a “glissando” which means to slide without break from one note to the next. It is the only instrument in the brass family with this ability.

Gustav Mahler

Symphonie No. 2: V. Im Tempo des Scherzos. Wild herausfahrend

Gustav Mahler

Symphonie No. 3: I. Kräftig. Entschieden

Maurice Ravel


Gustav Mahler’s Symphony No. 2 is the favourite orchestral work of our conductor, Yannick Nézet-Séguin. Discover what he loves so much about this piece!