Youtube o' the Depths of Hades!

I know what you're thinking. Ok, I really don't.

But this is kind of old, but I found it while looking for something else. It's Murray Crewe, bass trombonist of my beloved Pittsburgh Symphony, talking through the history of his Conn contrabass trombone. The first amusing thing to notice is that they go hunting for him in the bar across the street. The second amusing thing is the sheer size of the instrument.

He's using it to play the famous impossible gliss in the Bartok concerto for orchestra- the gliss goes from B natural to F, an octave below the second partial on your average Bb tenor trombone, which doesn't quite hit any of the partials for a regular bass trombone, but hits the second partial on a contra. There's a brief discussion of the gliss here.


  1. This was really neat. The history just is a reminder that things you find buried in the basement could be something magnificant. Maybe it is a sign to clean the basement out?
    What an amazing sound.
    So....does this trombone play lower than a contra?

  2. If I get your meaning, a bass trombone and a tenor trombone (like mine)are the same length, so they play in the same range, more or less. The bass trombone is a wider tube, which makes it a bit easier to play in the lower end of the register, and usually adds an extra valve to fill in the notes between the first and second partials- like, a tenor trombone can't play the B natural two octaves (almost) below middle C, but the bass can with the extra valve.

    A contrabass trombone is twice as long as either a tenor or bass- it plays an octave lower, in the same range as a BBb tuba.