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A sackbut is a type of trombone from the Renaissance and Baroque eras,

characterised by a telescopic slide that is used to vary the length of the tube to
change pitch. Unlike the earlier slide trumpet from which it evolved, the sackbut
possesses a double slide, with two parallel sliding tubes, which allows for playing
scales in a lower range.

Records of the term "trombone" predates the term "sackbut" by two decades, and
evidence for the German term "Posaune" is even older.[1] "Sackbut", originally a
French term, was used in England until the instrument fell into disuse in the
1700s; when it returned, the Italian term "trombone" became dominant.[2] In modern
English, an older trombone or its replica is called a sackbut.

An older instrument generally differs from modern trombones by its smaller, more
cylindrically-proportioned bore, and its less-flared bell. The bell section was
more resonant (since it did not contain the tuning slide and was loosely stayed
rather than firmly braced to itself). These traits produce a "covered, blended
sound which was a timbre particularly effective for working with voices,... zincks
and crumhorns",[3] as in an alta capella.

The revived instrument had changed in specific ways. In the mid-1700s, the bell
flare increased, crooks fell out of use, and flat, removable stays were replaced by
tubular braces. The new shape produced a stronger sound,[2] suitable to open-air
performance in the marching bands where trombones became popular again in the
1800s. Before the early 1800s, most trombones adjusted tuning with a crook on the
joint between the bell and slide or, more rarely, between the mouthpiece and the
slide,[4] rather than the modern pair of parallel tuning slides on the bell curve,
[5] which prevent the instrument from flaring smoothly through this section. Older
trombones also generally don't have water keys,[5] stockings,[6] a leadpipe, or a
slide lock, but as these parts are not critical to sound, replicas may include
them.[citation needed] Bore size remained variable, as it still is today.[2]

Terminological history

The first reference to a slide instrument was probably trompette des mnestrels,
first found in Burgundy in the 1420s and later in other regions of Europe. The name
distinguished the instrument from the trompettes de guerre (war trumpets), which
were of fixed length.[7]
"Busaun" (trombone) and various trumpets by different names, from the 1511 treatise
by Sebastian Virdung.

The next word to appear in the 15th century that implied a slide was the sackbut
group of words. There are two theories for the sources: it is either derived from
the Middle French sacquer (to pull) and bouter (to push) or from the Spanish sacar
(to draw or pull) and bucha (a tube or pipe).[7] The term survives in numerous
English spelling variations including sacbut, sackbutte, sagbut, shagbolt,
sacabushe, shakbusse[8] and shakbusshe.

Closely related to sackbut was the name used in France: sacqueboute and in Spain,
where it was sacabuche. These terms were used in England and France until the 18th

In Scotland in 1538 the slide instrument is referred to as draucht trumpet (drawn

trumpet) as opposed to a weir trumpet (war trumpet), which had a fixed length.[9]

In Germany, the original word was Posaune, appearing about 1450 and is still used
today. This (as well as bason) derives from busine, which is Latinate and meant
straight trumpet.[10]
In Italy it was (and remains) trombone, which derived from trumpet in the Latin
tromba or drompten, used in the Low Countries. The first records of it being used
are around 1440, but it is not clear whether this was just a nickname for a trumpet
player. In 1487 a writer links the words trompone and sacqueboute and mentions the
instrument as playing the contratenor part in a danceband.[11]
Sackbut in a fresco by Filippino Lippi in Rome, The Assumption of the Virgin,
dating from 148893. This is the earliest clear evidence of a double-slide

The trombone developed from the trumpet. Up until 1375 trumpets were simply a long
straight tube with a bell flare.[13]

There are various uses of sackbut-like words in the Bible, which has led to a
faulty translation from the Latin bible that suggested the trombones date back as
far as 600 BC, but there is no evidence of slides at this time.[14]

From 1375 the iconography sees trumpets being made with bends, and some in 'S'
shapes. Around 1400 we see the "loop"-shaped trumpet appear in paintings and at
some point in the 15th century, a single slide was added. This slide trumpet was
known as a "trompette des mnestrels" in the alta capella bands.[15]

The earliest clear evidence of a double slide instrument is in a fresco painting by

Filippino Lippi in Rome, The Assumption of the Virgin, dating from 148893.[12]

From the 15th to the 19th centuries, the instrument designs changed very little
overall, apart from a slight widening of the bell in classical era. Since the 19th
century, trombone bore sizes and bells have increased significantly.[citation

It was one of the most important instruments in Baroque polychoral works, along
with the cornett and organ.
Instrument sizes
Trombones in Syntagma Musicum (1614-20), by Michael Praetorius.

Sackbuts come in several sizes. According to Michael Praetorius, these were:

Voice Praetorius' name Praetorius' pitch Modern pitch
alto Alt oder Discant Posaun D or E E
tenor Gemeine recht Posaun A B
bass Quart-Posaun or Quint-Posaun E and D F(quart) and E (quint)
double bass Octav-Posaun A (octave below tenor) B (octave below tenor)
Octav-Posaun from Syntagma Musicum (1614-20) Michael Praetorius.

The pitch of the trombones has (notionally) moved up a semi-tone since the 17th
century, and this is explained in the section on pitch.

Because the tenor instrument is described as "Gemeine" (common or ordinary), this

is probably the most widely used trombone.

The basses, due to their longer slides, have a hinged handle on the slide stay,
which is used to reach the long positions.

The giant Octav-Posaun / double bass trombone / contra-bass trombone in the style
of those made in 16th/17th centuries is represented by only a few existing
instruments. There is an original instrument made by Georg Nicolaus Oller built in
Stockholm in 1639 and housed in the Musikmuseet.[16] In addition, Ewald Meinl has
made a modern copy of this instrument, and it is currently owned and played by Wim
The bore size of renaissance/baroque trombones is approximately 10 mm (0.39 in) and
the bell rarely more than 10.5 cm (4.1 in) in diameter.[17] This compares with
modern tenor trombones, which commonly have bores 12.7 mm (0.50 in) to 13.9 mm
(0.55 in) and bells 17.8 cm (7.0 in) to 21.6 cm (8.5 in).

Modern reproductions of sackbuts sacrifice some authenticity to harness

manufacturing techniques and inventions that make them more comfortable for modern
players, while retaining much of the original character of the old instruments.
Marin Mersenne, L'Harmonie universelle (1636).

Some original instruments could be disassembled into the constituent straight

tubes, bowed tubes, bell flare, and stays, with ferrules at the joints. Mersenne
has a diagram. (Little imagination is needed to see how it could be reassembled
with an extra tubeinto something approaching a natural trumpet.) There is a debate
as to whether they used tight fittings, wax or another joining substance. Modern
sackbut reproductions are usually soldered together. Some modern sackbut
reproductions use glue as a compromise to give a loose fitting for high resonance
without risk of falling apart.

Tuning slides came in during the very late 18th century. Early trombonists adjusted
pitch with the slide, and by adding variously shaped and sized crooks. Modern
reproductions often have a bell bow tuning slide or telescopic slide between the
slide and bell sections. Crooks are still used, as are variously sized bell bow
sections for larger changes.[18]

The stays on period sackbuts are flat. While the bell stay remained flat, from
about 1660 the slide stays became tubular. On many modern reproductions round slide
stays are much more comfortable to play and easier to make.

A loose connection between the bell stay and the bell is thought key to a resonant
bell, and thus a better sackbut sound. Original instruments have a hinge joint.
Modern copies with a tuning slide in the bell can need more support for operation
of the slide, so either an extra stay by the tuning slide is provided or a joint
without play in only one axis is employed.

The original way to make the slide tubes was to roll a flat piece of metal around a
solid cylinder mandrel, and the joining edges soldered together. Modern
manufacturers now draw the tubes. They also tend to have stockings, which were only
invented around 1850. In addition, modern made slides are usually made of nickel
silver with chrome plating, giving a smoother finish and quieter action than simply
the brass that would have originally been used.

The water key was added in the 19th century, but modern reproductions often have

Until some time in the 18th century, the trombone was in A and the pitch of that A
was about a half-step higher than it is today460480 Hz. There was a transition
around the 18th century when trombones started to be thought of in B at around 440
Hz. This change did not require a change in the instrument, merely a new set of
slide positions for each note. But it does mean that the baroque and renaissance
repertoire was intended to be played at the higher pitch. There are many examples
of evidence for this:

Fellow church instruments that are fixed pitchcornetts and organswere pitched
at approximately A=460480 Hz ("Chorton") across Europe in the Renaissance and
baroque eras. High pitch is also seen in Renaissance wind bands.
Virgiliano's treatise Il Dolcimeo (c. 1600).

Aurelio Virgiliano's Il dolcimelo (c. 1600) teaches trombonists that first

position gives A, E, A, C, E and G.[20]
In 1687, Daniel Speer's Grund-richtiger concurs with these notes for the slide
all the way in (while describing pushing the slide out a bit to get the C).
Praetorius describes an alto in D, tenor in A, and bass in D.

The tenor trombones that survive are pitched closest to B at A=440 Hz, which is
the same as A at A=466 Hz. So what we now think of as a tenor trombone with B in
first position, pitched at A=440 was actually thought of as a trombone in A (in
first position), pitched at A=466. Surviving basses in D at A=466 (E at 440)for
example: Ehe, 1612 (Leipzig) and Hainlein, c.1630 (Nuremberg) confirm Praetorius'
description. It is also worth noting that Rognoni's "Suzanne ung jour" setting
descends repeatedly to BB, which is a tone lower than the lowest note playable on
a bass in F; on a bass in D, it falls in (modern) fifth position.

Many groups now perform at A=466 Hz for the sake of greater historical accuracy.
A re-created wait, an ensemble of loud instruments suited to playing outdoors.
Centre, a sackbut.

The sackbut was described as suitable for playing with the 'loud' ensembles in the
outdoors, as well as the 'soft' ensembles inside.

The alta capella bands are seen in drawings as entertaining outside with ensembles
including shawms, trumpets and trombones. When pushed, sackbuts can easily make a
loud and brassy sound.

The sackbut also responds very well to rather soft playingmore so than a modern
trombone. The sound is characterized by a more delicate, vocal timbre. The flat
rims and shallow cups of the older mouthpieces are instrumental in providing the
player with a much wider palette of articulations and tonal colours. This
flexibility lends itself to a vocal style of playing and facilitates very
characterful phrasing.

Mersenne wrote in 1636, "It should be blown by a skillful musician so that it may
not imitate the sounds of the trumpet, but rather assimilate itself to the
sweetness of the human voice, lest it should emit a warlike rather than a peaceful

The Lorenzo da Lucca was said to have had "in his playing a certain grace and
lightness with a manner so pleasing".[21]
Performance practice

Musicians of the 16th and 17th centuries benefited from a broader base of skills
than the average performer today.[according to whom?]

These traditions continued into the baroque with musicians expected to give
expression to the written music by ornamenting with a mixture of one-note graces
and whole passage divisions (also known as diminutions). The suggestions for
producing effective ornaments without disrupting the line and harmony are discussed
alongside countless examples in the 16th and early 17th century Italian division
tutors. Graces such as the accento, portar della voce, tremolo, groppo, trillo,
esclamationo and intonatio are all to be considered by performers of any music in
this period.

Cornetts and trombones...play divisions that are neither scrappy, nor so wild and
involved that they spoil the underlying melody and the composer's design: but are
introduced at such moments and with such vivacity and charm that they give the
music the greatest beauty and spirit Bottrigari, Venice 1594[22]

Along with the improvisation, many of these tutors discuss articulation. Francesco
Rognoni in 1620 describes the tonguing as the most important part of producing a
good and beautiful effect in playing wind instruments, and principally the
cornett[23] (which of course had a very similar role to the trombone).[citation
needed] The treatises discuss the various strengths of consonants from le through
de to te. But the focus of the text is for playing rapid notes similar to the
gorgia of the human voice with soft and smooth double tonguing (lingua
riversa) using le re le re. This is opposed to using te che te che, which is
described as harsh, barbarous and displeasing. The natural pairing of notes
these articulations provide is similar to the instructions for string players who
are instructed to slur (lireggiar) pairs of eighth notes with one bow stroke per
quarter beat.

Another integral part of the early music sound-world is the musical temperament.
Music in the middle-ages favours intervals of the fourth and fifth, which is why
Pythagorean tuning was used. The interval of a third was used as a clash until the
Renaissance, when it became consonant in compositions, which went hand-in-hand with
the widespread use of meantone temperament.[citation needed] During the 17th
century, Well temperament began to become more and more popular as the range of
keys increased. Temperament affects the colour of a composition, and therefore
modern performances, typically employing equal temperament, may not be true
representations of the composers' intentions.

These old tunings can come naturally on a sackbut. As the bell is smaller than a
modern trombone, the harmonic series is closer to a perfect harmonic series, which
is the basis for just tuning. Without adjusting the slide, the first to second
harmonic is a perfect octave, second to third harmonic is a fifth slightly wider
than equal temperament and fourth to fifth harmonic is a major third slightly
narrower than in equal temperament. These adjusted intervals make chords ring and
are the basis of meantone.[citation needed] In fact, Speer says, Once you have
found a good C (third position), this is also the place you will find your
F.[this quote needs a citation] Playing C and F in exactly the same position on
a modern orchestra sounds out of tune, but it tunes perfectly well on a sackbut if
everyone plays meantone.[clarification needed]
Excerpt from a trombone part from a Picchi canzon (1625). Baritone clef seen here
is very common for trombone parts of this era.

Plenty of musical understanding can be gathered from reading the original music
print. Publishers such as SPES[24] and Arnaldo Forni Edition provide facsimile
copies of plenty of music for trombone from this era. To read these it one needs to
become familiar with the old clefs, time signatures, ligatures and notational
conventions of the era.
Trombone on a 1909 headstone, Christ Church, Todmorden

The sound of sackbuts (and trombones) has long been thought especially solemn and
noble, had an association with death and the afterlife.[25] The instrument was a
symbol of divine presence, the voice of the angels and instrument of judgment.[26]
This symbolism can be seen, for instance, in L'Orfeo, Alceste, The Magic Flute, the
Death March from Saul, and funeral aequales.[2]

This association was probably encouraged by the lack of distinction made between
natural horns, slide trumpets, and trombones in this Renaissance; they were used
and often named interchangeably. Martin Luthers 1534 translation of the Bible into
German renders the Greek shophar and salpigx to Posaune. Posaune at the time could
refer to a natural horn or other brass instrument, but it later came to mean
exclusively "trombone" (similarly, English translations generally have "trumpet",
and only occasionally "horn" or "shofar"). This gives the later reader of the
Luther Bible texts such as: we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the
twinkling of an eye, at the last trombone; for the trombone shall sound and the
dead shall be raised incorruptible (1 Corinthians 15:52).[27]
Before 1600

The sackbut replaced the slide trumpet in the 15th century alta capella wind bands
that were common in towns throughout Europe playing courtly dance music. See Waits.

Another key use of the trombone was in ceremonies, in conjunction with the trumpet.
In many towns in Germany and Northern Italy, 'piffari' bands were employed by local
governments throughout the 16th century to give regular concerts in public squares
and would lead processions for festivals. Piffari usually contained a mix of wind,
brass and percussion instruments and sometimes viols.[28]

Venice's doge had his own piffari company and they gave an hour-long concert in the
Piazza each day, as well as sometimes performing for services in St. Mark's. Each
of the six confraternities in Venice also had their own independent piffari groups
too, which would all play at a lavish procession on the feast of Corpus Domini.
These groups are in addition to the musicians employed by St. Mark's to play in the
balconies with the choir (the piffari would play on the main level).[28]

It also was used in church music both for instrumental service music and as a
doubling instrument for choral music. The treble and high alto parts were most
often played by cornetts or shawms, with the violin sometimes replacing the cornett
in 17th century Italian music.[28]

The first record of trombones being used in churches was in Innsbruck 1503. Seville
Cathedral's records show employment of trombonists in 1526, followed by several
other Spanish cathedrals during the 16th century, used not only for ceremonial
music and processionals, but also for accompaniment of the liturgical texts as
well, doubling voices.[29]

The sacred use of trombones was brought to a fine art by the Andrea Gabrieli,
Giovanni Gabrieli and their contemporaries c.1570-1620 Venice and there is also
evidence of trombonists being employed in churches and cathedrals in Italy at times
during the second half of the 16th century in Bologna, Rome, Padua, Mantua and

Since ensembles had flexible instrumentation at this time, there is relatively

little music before Giovanni Gabrieli's publication Symphoniae sacrae (1597) that
specifically mentions trombones. The only example currently known is the music by
Francesco Corteccia for the Medici wedding 1539.[30]

The 17th century brings two pieces of real solo trombone repertoire.

Giovanni Martino Cesare wrote La Hieronyma, (Musikverlag Max Hieber, MH6012) the
earliest known piece for accompanied solo trombone. It comes from Cesare's
collection Musicali Melodie per voci et instrumenti a una, due, tre, quattro,
cinque, e sei published in Munich 1621 of 28 pieces for a mixture of violins,
cornetts, trombone, vocal soloists and organ continuo. The collection also contains
La Bavara for four trombones.

The other solo trombone piece of the 17th century, Sonata trombone & basso (modern
edition by H Weiner, Ensemble Publications), was written around 1665. This
anonymous piece is also known as the 'St. Thomas Sonata' because it was kept in the
library of the Saint Thomas Augustinian Monastery in Brno, Czech Republic.

Francesco Rognoni was another composer who specified the trombone in a set of
divisions (variations) on the well-known song Suzanne ung jour (London Pro Musica,
REP15). Rognoni was a master violin and gamba player whose treatise Selva di Varie
passaggi secondo l'uso moderno (Milan 1620 and facsimile reprint by Arnaldo Forni
Editore 2001) details improvisation of diminutions and Suzanne is given as one
example. Although most diminutions are written for organ, string instruments or
cornett, Suzanne is "per violone over Trombone alla bastarda". With virtuosic
semiquaver passages across the range of the instrument, it reflects Praetorius'
comments about the large range of the tenor and bass trombones, and good players of
the Quartposaune (bass trombone in F) could play fast runs and leaps like a viola
bastarda or cornetto. The term "bastarda" describes a technique that made
variations on all the different voices of a part song, rather than just the melody
or the bass: "considered illegitimate because it was not polyphonic".[31]
Chamber music

In the 17th century, a considerable repertoire of chamber music using sackbut with
various combinations of violins, cornetts and dulcians, often with continuo,
appeared. Composers included Dario Castello, Giovanni Battista Fontana, Giovanni
Paolo Cima, Andrea Cima, Johann Heinrich Schmelzer and Matthias Weckmann.

Giovanni Paolo Cima, organist of S. Celso wrote the oldest known trio sonata and
solo violin sonata. Contained in his Concerti ecclesiastici (Milan 1610) is his
brother Andrea's Capriccio 'for cornett and trombone or violin and violone'.

Antonio Bertali wrote several trio sonatas for 2 violins, trombone and bass
continuo in the mid-17th century. One such Sonata a 3 is freely available in
facsimile form from the Dben Collection website hosted by Uppsala universitet.[32]
A "Sonata a3 in C" is published by Musica Rara and attributed to Biber, although
the authorship is unclear and it is more likely to have been written by Bertali.

Dario Castello, a wind player at St. Mark's Venice in the early 17th century had
two books of Sonate Concertate published in 1621 and 1629. The sonatas of 1-4 parts
with bass continuo often specify trombones, as well as cornett, violin and bassoon.
The numerous reprints during the 17th century affirm his popularity then, as
perhaps now.

Giuseppe Scarani joined St. Mark's Venice in 1629 as a singer and in the following
year published Sonate concertate, a volume of works for 2 or 3 (unspecified)
instruments (and b.c.). The title has been suggested was chosen to try and capture
some of Castello's success.[28]

Tiburtio Massaino wrote a Canzona for eight trombones, published in Raverio's 1608

Johann Heinrich Schmelzer wrote several sonatas that included trombonessuch as his
Sonata 7 for two cornetts, two trumpets, three trombones, and basso continuo.

Daniel Speer published a four-part sonata in Neu-gebachene Taffel-Schnitz (1685).

In 1687, Speer published the first written instruction in sackbut (and several
other instruments) playing: Grund-richtiger/kurtz/leicht und noethiger Unterricht
der Musicalischen Kunst. The second edition in 1697 provides two three part sonatas
for trombones.

An English work of note from this period is Matthew Locke's Music for His Majestys
Sagbutts and Cornetts, a suite for Charles II's coronation 1661.[34]
Light music

Non-serious music, often based on dances for festive occasions, rarely had
specified instrumentation. Often you find something like "per diversi musici".
Indeed, the groups that would perform them would often be full of multi-

Johann Pezel wrote for Stadtpfeifer with his Hora decima musicorum (1670),
containing sonatas, as well as Fnff-stimmigte blasende Music (1685) with five-part
intradas and dance pieces.

Well known pieces from Germany includes Samuel Scheidt's Ludi Musici (1621) and
Johann Hermann Schein's Banchetto musicale (1617).[35]

The first English piece scored for trombone is John Adson's Courtly Masquing Ayres
(1611). Another light collection suitable for including trombones is Anthony
Holborne's Pavans, Galliards, Allmains, and other short Aeirs both Grave and Light
in Five Parts for Viols, Violins or Other Musicall Winde Instruments (1599).
Sacred music

Trombonists were in the regular ensemble at St. Mark's Venice from its formation in
1568 until they left the payroll in 1732.[36] The first two ensemble directors
maestro di concertiGirolamo Dalla Casa (15681601) and Giovanni Bassano (1601
1617)were cornett players and the nucleus of the group was two cornetts and two
trombones, although for the larger ceremonies many extra players were hired. During
a mass attended by the Doge, evidence suggests they would have played a canzona in
the Gradual after the Epistle and the Agnus Dei, a sonata in the Offertory as well
as reinforcing vocal parts or substituting for absent singers.[37]

This ensemble was used extensively by Giovanni Gabrieli in pieces substantially for
brass, voices and organ in Venice up until his death in 1612. He was greatly
influential in Venetian composers in other churches and confraternities, and his
early baroque and cori spezzati style is seen in contemporaries like Giovanni
Picchi and Giovanni Battista Grillo.

It is suggested that Monteverdi wrote his Vespro della Beata Vergine (1610) as a
pitch for employment at St. Mark's as successor to Giovanni Gabrieli. In addition
to the Magnificat, two movements specify trombones: the opening "Deus in
adiutorium" is for six voices, two violins, two cornetts, three trombones, five
viole da braccio and basso continuo; Sonata sopra "Sancta Maria, ora pro nobis" is
for soprano, two violins, two cornetts, three trombones (one of which can be a
viola da braccio), viola da braccio and basso continuo. Monteverdi also leaves the
option to use trombones as part of the "sex instrumentis" of the Dixit Dominus and
in the instrumental Ritornello a 5 between verses of Ave maris stella.[38]

From around 1617, when the maestro de' concerti at St. Marks changed to violinist
Francesco Bonfante and correspondingly the ensemble changed from basically a brass
ensemble to being more evenly mixed with brass, wind and string instruments.[28]

Monteverdi arrived at St. Mark's in 1613 and it is unsurprising that he includes

trombones and strings for several more sacred works during his time here, published
in his Selva Morale e Spirituale 1641. Of the c.40 items in this collection, six
specify three or four trombones (or viola da braccio, ad lib): SV268 Beatus vir I,
SV263 Dixit Dominus I, SV263 Dixit Dominus II, SV261 Et iterum venturus est, SV258
Gloria in excelsis Deo, SV281 Magnificat I. Each is for 3-8 voices with 3 violins
(apart from SV261), the trombones/violas and basso continuo. Monteverdi also
specified trombones in two more sacred works: SV198 Laetatus sum (i) (1650) for 6
voices, 2 violins, 2 trombones and bassoon and SV272 Laudate Dominum omnes gentes I
(1641) for 5 voices concertato, 4 voice chorus ad lib, 4 viola da braccio or
trombones and basso continuo.[38]

A prolific composer for trombones in Germany in the 17th century was Heinrich
Schtz. His Fili me, Absalon (SWV 269) and Attendite, popule meus (SWV 270), are
both scored for bass voice, four trombones (of which two are optionally violins)
and basso continuo, are well known. They are part of his first Symphoniae Sacrae
collection dating from 1629 and commentators have noted that the style reflects his
studies in Venice with Giovanni Gabrieli 1609-1612. Other pieces that specify
trombones (according to Grove) are (grouped by the collection they were published
in): Concert mit 11 Stimmen (1618): SWV 21, in Psalmen Davids (Psalms of David) Op.
2 (1619): SWV 38, 40-46, Symphoniae Sacrae I Op.6 (1629): SWV 259, 269-271, 274,
Symphoniae Sacrae II Op.10 (1647): SWV 344, Symphoniae Sacrae III Op. 12 (1650):
SWV 398a, Historia (1664): SWV 435, 448, 449, 453, 461, 452, 466-470, 473, 474-476,
Schwanengesang Psalm 119 (1671): SWV 500, although many others are suitable for
trombones too.[39]

Johann Hermann Schein specified trombones in some of his sacred vocal works in the
Opella nova, ander Theil, geistlicher Concerten collection (Leipzig, 1626). For
example, Uns ist ein Kind geboren is scored for violino, traversa, alto trombone,
tenor voice, fagotto and basso continuo. Mach dich auf, werde licht, Zion uses
Canto 1: violino, cornetto, flauto picciolo e voce, Canto 2: voce e traversa, Alto:
Trombone e Voce, Tenore: Voce e Trombone, Basso: Fagotto Trombone e Voce and Basso
Continuo, during which solos for each of the trombonists are specified. Of
particular interest is Maria, gegrsset seist du, Holdselige, which uses soprano
and tenor voices, alto trombone, 2 tenor trombones and on the bass line "trombone
grosso," which goes down to pedal A, and a couple of diatonic scale passages from
bottom C.[40]

German composer Johann Rudolf Ahle wrote some notable sacred pieces for voices and
trombones. Hre, Gott uses five favoriti singers, two ripieno choirs (which double
other parts at intense moments) and seven trombones, with basso continuo. And his
most famous Neu-gepflanzte Thringische Lust-Garten.. (165765) contains several
sacred works with 3 or 4 trombones, including Magnificat a 8 for SATB soloists,
cornett, 3 trombones and continuo and Herr nun lssestu deinen Diener a 5 for bass,
4 trombones and continuo.[41]

Dieterich Buxtehude specifies trombones in a few sacred concertos using style

derived from polychoral Venetian works and one secular piece. For example, Gott
fhret auf mit Jauchzen (BuxWV33 from CW v, 44) is scored for SSB voices, 2 vn, 2
va, trbn, 2 cornetts, 2 tpt, bn and bc.[42]

There are a few vocal works involving trombones in works by Andreas Hammerschmidt.
These include Lob- und Danck Lied aus dem 84. Psalm for 9 voices, 5 tpt, 3 trbn, 5
va and bc (Freiberg, 1652). There is also Hochzeitsgesang fr Daniel Sartorius: Es
ist nicht gut, dass der Mensch allein sei for 5 voices, 2 vn, 2 trbn, bn and bc.

Johann Schelle has numerous sacred vocal works that use trombones. For instance Vom
Himmel kam der Engel Schar is scored for soprano, tenor, SSATB choir, 2 violins, 2
violas, 2 cornetts, 3 trombones, 2 trumpets, timpani, basso continuo, and Lobe den
Herrn, meine Seele is for two choirs of SSATB and similar instruments to the
previous work.[44]

The lesser known Austrian composer Christoph Strauss, Kapellmeister to the Habsburg
Emperor Mathias 1616-1620, wrote two important collections for trombones, cornetts
and voices. His motets published in Nova ac diversimoda sacrarum cantionum
composition, seu motettae (Vienna, 1613) are in a similar tradition to Gabrieli's
music. Of the sixteen motets in the collection, all are titled "concerto" apart
from the "sonata" Expectans Expectavi Dominum for 6 trombones, cantus voice and
tenor voice. In 1631 he published a number of masses, which were much more baroque,
with basso continuo, rhetorical word painting and obligato usage of instruments.

Later in the 17th century, Heinrich Ignaz Franz Biber composed sacred works for
voices and orchestra featuring trombones. His Requiem mass (1692) uses an orchestra
of strings, 3 trombones and basso continuo. A similar ensemble accompanies 8 vocal
lines in his Lux perpetua (c1673), and three more similar works in the 1690s.[46]

Monteverdi ushers sackbuts into the first great opera, 'L'Orfeo' 1607. The
orchestra at the first performance, as shown in the first publication, the list of
"stromenti" at the front of the score specifies four trombones, but at one point in
Act 3, however, the score calls for five trombones.

There is relatively little repertoire for the trombone in the late baroque.

Johann Sebastian Bach uses trombones in fourteen of his church cantatasBWV 2, 3,

4, 21, 23, 25, 28, 38, 64, 68, 96, 101, 121, 135as well as motet BWV 118. He uses
the trombone sound to reflect the (by now) archaic sounds of the Renaissance
trombones doubling voices (with cornett playing the soprano line), yet he also uses
them independently, which John Eliot Gardiner says prepares the way for their use
in Beethoven's Symphony No. 5.[47] The cantatas were either composed in Leipzig
during 1723-1725, or (for BWV 4, 21 & 23) the trombone parts were added to the
existing cantata during the same period. The cornett and trombone parts would have
been played by the Stadtpfeifer.[48]

In England, George Frideric Handel includes trombones in three of his oratorios:

Saul (1738), Israel in Egypt (1738) and Samson (1741). There are no other
documented groups or performances with trombone players in England at this time,
and it has been suggested that the premiers took place with a visiting group from
Germany, as was the custom in Paris at this time.

Vienna's Imperial court used trombones in church music:

Johann Joseph Fux was Hofkapellmeister in Vienna from 1715 until 1741. Many of his
masses use the choir strengthened by strings, cornetts and trombones, often with
independent moments for the instrumentalists and sometimes. Missa SS Trinitatis
uses two choirs, which again points to the traditions going back to Gabrieli. His
highly successful Requiem is for five vocal parts, two cornetts, two trombones,
strings and continuo. He also uses the trombone in smaller motets and antiphons,
such as his setting of Alma Redemptoris mater for soprano, alto trombone, strings
and continuo. Some of his chamber music involves trombones, as do many of his
operas, used as an obbligato instrument.[49]

Also in the Vienna court was Antonio Caldara, vice-kapellmeister 17171736. Among
his output are two Holy Week settings as Da Capo arias: Deh sciogliete, o mesti
lumi for soprano, unison violins, bassoon, two trombones and organ and Dio, qual
sia for soprano, trombone, bassoon and basso continuo.[50]

Again this period suffers from a lack of trombone players.[clarification needed]

Most of these works derive from Vienna and Salzburg.

Joseph Haydn uses trombones in Il rotorno di Tobia, Die sieben letzten Worte, The
Creation, Die Jahreszeiten, Der Sturm, Orfeo ed Euridice and secular cantata

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart uses trombones in connection with death or the

supernatural. This includes the Requiem (K626, 1791), Great Mass in C minor (K423,
1783), Coronation Mass (C major) (K317, 1779), several other masses, Vesperae
Solennes de Confessore (K339, 1780), Vesperae de Dominica, his arrangement of
Handel's Messiah plus two of his three great operas: Don Giovanni (K527, 1787) and
Die Zauberflte (K620, 1791). Mozart's first use of the trombone was an obligato
line in the oratorio Die Schuldigkeit des ersten Gebots (K35, 1767)

Christoph Willibald Gluck includes trombones in five of his operas: Iphignie en

Aulide (1774), Orfeo ed Euridice (1774), Alceste (1776), Iphignie en Tauride
(1779) and Echo et Narcisse (1779), as well as ballet Don Juan (1761).[51]

Some chamber music in this period includes trombone in an obligato role with voice,
and also as a concerto instrument with string orchestra. Composers include the
likes of Leopold Mozart, Georg Christoph Wagenseil, Johann Albrechtsberger, Michael
Haydn and Johann Ernst Eberlin.

For works for trombone post-1800, please see trombone.

Modern performance

Many groups specializing in period music make frequent and prominent use of the

External links:

Les haulz et les bas

City of Lincoln Waites
The York Waits
BandAntica la Pifaresca

Renaissance / Baroque small chamber music

Adam Woolf
Caecilia Concert
Capella de la Torre
Concerto Palatino
Dresdner Stadtpfeifer
English Cornett and Sackbut Ensemble
La Fenice
The Gabrieli Consort
His Majestys Sagbutts and Cornetts
La Ricercata
Les Sacqueboutiers de Toulouse
Spiritus Collective
The Whole Noyse


Plenty of recordings of the authentic sackbut are now available from the groups
such as Concerto Palatino, HMSC, Gabrieli Consort and the Toulouse Sacqueboutiers.
For a closer examination of the instrument, here are some recommended recordings
where the sackbut is heavily featured in a "solo" capacity.

Songs Without Words. Adam Woolf. SFZMusic 2010.

Treasury of a Saint. Caecilia Concert, Challenge Records 2006.
La Sacqueboute. Michel Becquet, Les Sacqueboutiers de Toulouse.[full citation
Sackbutt. Jorgen Van Rijen. Channel Classics 2008.
Schmelzer & Co. Caecilia-Concert. Challenge Records 2009.
Buxtehude & Co. Caecilia-Concert. Challenge Records 2007.

Early surviving instruments

The earliest instruments:

Date Maker Made in Category Modern copies
1551 Erasmus Schnitzer Nuremberg Tenor Piquemal, Toulouse (1980 ca.)
1557 Georg Neuschel Nuremberg Tenor
c.1560 Unknown Venice? Tenor
1576 Anton Schnitzer I Nuremberg Tenor [52]
1579 Anton Schnitzer I Nuremberg Bass
1581 Anton Schnitzer I Nuremberg Tenor
1587 Conrad Linczer Nuremberg Tenor
1593 Pierre Colbert Reims Bass in G
1594 Anton Schnitzer II Nuremberg Tenor Mike Corrigan
1595 Anton Drewelewcz Nuremberg Tenor Ewald Meinl "small bore"
1602 Andreas Reichart Edfurt ?
1607 Simon Reichard Nuremberg Bass in E-F
1608 Jakob Bauer Nuremberg Tenor
1612 Isaac Ehe Nuremberg Bass in D-Eb Egger (bore 11.5-12.0mm, bell

Other notable sackbuts:

Date Maker Made in Category Modern copies
1627 Sebastian Hainlein I Nuremberg Tenor (Munich) (1932?) Egger
'tenor-bass' (bore 11.5/12.0mm bell 120mm)
1631 Sebastian Hainlein Nuremberg Tenor Egger (bore 10.5/11.0mm, bell
1639 Georg Nicolaus Oller Stockholm Bass in F Ewald Meinl
1653 Paul Hainlein Nuremberg Tenor Ewald Meinl "wide bore"
1670 Hieronimus Starck Nuremberg Alto Egger (bore 10.0/10.0mm, bell 94mm)
1677 Paul Hainlein Nuremberg Tenor in C Currently owned by Christian
1785 Johann Joseph Schmied Pfaffendorf Alto in Eb Egger "classical"
1785 Johann Joseph Schmied Pfaffendorf Bass in F Egger "classical"
1778 Johann Joseph Schmied Pfaffendorf Tenor (private collection in
Basel) Egger "classical"