Trombone glissando: a case study in continuity and change in brass instrument performance idioms

Herbert, T. (2010) Trombone glissando: a case study in continuity and change in brass instrument performance idioms. Historic Brass Society Journal, 22. pp. 1-18. ISSN 1045-4616 (print) 1943-5215 (online)

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Abstract

The glissando is one of the key idiomatic features of the slide trombone. It appears to have originated in the improvisatory practices of circus and itinerant theater groups in the mid-19th c. There is no evidence of it being notated in art music until late in the 19th c.; even in the early 20th c., glissando markings in scores (the notation varies) needed an explanatory note about how the effect was to be achieved. The article traces the history of trombone glissando and suggests that its introduction into the idiom of the instrument was hampered by ideological controversy about its origins and its implementation by early jazz performers in New Orleans. Valve trombones were better known to these players than the slide instrument, so when they were acquired by those players who exploited the 'tailgate' style, they naturally emphasized the effect that the slide instrument seemed to encourage. The ideological conflict arose as the maturing conservatoire tradition set out orthodoxies based on the most refined stylistic models of virtuosity and taste drawn from art music. The point of friction appears to have been partly racial and class-based, and partly focused on an interpretation of glissando that placed it as a crude corruption of portamento, which was encouraged in the didactic literature as an emblem of refinement.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: Trombone playing, glissando, articulation, jazz, classical music
Subjects: Musical Instruments
Music aesthetics
Music History
Music and society
Division: Musicology
Depositing User: Ms Katharine Liley
Date Deposited: 19 Jun 2019 15:57
Last Modified: 19 Jun 2019 15:57
URI: http://researchonline.rcm.ac.uk/id/eprint/599

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