Brass instrument with an extendable slide with which the length of its tubing can be increased. It has a mostly cylindrical bore and a cup-shaped mouthpiece. The slide performs the same function as the valves in other brass instruments. Valve trombones, both with and without slides, were developed in the early 19th century; they provide increased agility but diminished tone quality. The trombone exists in several sizes; the tenor trombone in B-flat is the standard instrument, but the bass trombone is also used orchestrally. The trombone (long known as the sackbut) developed in the 15th century and has changed little over 400 years. By the 16th century it had been adopted by town, court, church, and military bands; it was employed in early opera orchestras, but it only began to be used in the symphony orchestra c. 1800. In the 20th century it became important in dance and jazz bands.

This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise.
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