Trombone scoring

• Nov 13, 2017 - 17:28

Tried out my first concert band score at rehearsal - sound was disastrous! near as I can tell, standard (tenor) trombones are Bb instruments, same as trumpet - but when I choose trombone in instruments, musescore puts it in concert pitch! Is this a glitch, or is it something I'm doing wrong?


Nov 13, 2017 - 17:58

It sounds like you printed the trombone part out in concert pitch. Thus, at rehearsal the trombones were playing a step up.

As previously stated, most trombones are C instruments.

I suspect your trombone players are used to playing on the treble clef. Treble clef trombones are written as transposing Bb instruments. There is a Trombone (Treble Clef) included in MuseScores instruments.

The other possibility is you chose Tenor Trombone rather than Trombone and you have a tenor clef at the beginning of the staff and the musicians ignored or did not understand this and played it as though there is a bass clef. This would not sound right.

In reply to by mike320

Must be monday - I'm not getting it ;) I own a trombone, and its C corresponds to Bb on my keyboard - so that makes it a Bb, transposing instrument right? You can see in my score "il est ne le divin enfant that musescore put the trombone part in bass clef, and in F (the concert key), but the trumpet part in G major.

Orchestral trombonists read and play concert but those with a brass band background effectively play a Bb instrument and their music matches that of the cornets, euphoniums, baritone, Bb basses (tubas) in the band. Beginners of either may struggle to read music written for the other.

Bass trombonists and more advanced tenor trombonists can generally transpose on the fly and play basically anything. Best advice is have a copy prepared for Bb instrument in tenor clef (transpose their music up a tone) and one in Concert in bass clef.

In reply to by underquark

Thanks, I guess it's my problem and not a musescore issue. I wasn't aware I could choose treble euphonium and treble trombone from instrument list. Still can't really get my head around what's happening - plus our trombone section reads bass clef - so not sure how to proceed; I mean, I can write a bone part that will be pitched correctly when played live - but will be incorrectly pitched when played by musescore. Seems like a cumbersome solution, but it is what it is :)

In reply to by Ron B - Flute C

To be clear (hopefully!) -

The vast majority of trombone players read their music in bass clef, and parts printed in bass clef are practically invariably at concert pitch. So, middle C written actually sounds like a C - the higher of the two C' most trombone players can play comfortably. It's called a "Bb trombone" not because it transposed, but because the overtone series in first position is based on Bb. That is, pull your slide all the way in, blow, and you get the notes Bb, F, Bb, D, F, etc - the Bb overtone series. Again, since most trombone players in the world read bass clef at concert pitch, this is also how the music is notated.

However, some trombone players - mostly ones in brass bands or in a small handful of countries - are more accustomed to reading music in treble clef, and music published for these players will be transposed, a major second plus an octave up. So middle C as written will actually sound like the Bb over an octave lower. For people trained this way, the overtone series produced in first position is still in Bb as it sounds, butyou probably are accustomed to reading as if it were C, G, C, E, G, etc.

So, to summarize, music for trombone is normally published in one or both of two ways: either in bass clef at concert pitch, or in treble clef transposed up a ninth. If you are looking at a piece of published music for trombone in bass clef, chances are it is concert pitch. If it's printed in treble clef, probably it's also transposed (up a ninth).

MuseScore supports both methods. So if some of your trombone players are accustomed to bass clef / concert pitch, and others are accustomed to treble clef / transposed, you can actually give them each their own music. Just set up both staves appropriate, write the music whicever way is more comfortable for you, then copy and paste onto the other staff.

Do you still have an unanswered question? Please log in first to post your question.