Whole-Tube and Half-Tube Instruments and the Pedal Range

In his classic text, Orchestration, Cecil Forsyth talked about brass instruments being classified into two categories – whole-tube instruments and half-tube instruments.

Whole-Tube Instrument – a brass instrument capable of playing its fundamental pitch (the so-called pedal tone).

Half-Tube Instrument – a brass instrument that cannot play its fundamental pitch.

harmonic series

Forsyth was never clear as to which instruments fell exactly into what category.  In general, he stated that tubas were most definitely whole-tube instruments while trumpets and cornets cannot.  He neglects to mention trombones in either category, but includes passages that show pedal tones. Continue reading “Whole-Tube and Half-Tube Instruments and the Pedal Range”

Contrabass Trombone

Contrabass Trombone

F Contrabass Trombone Range B-flat Contrabass Trombone Range

Oh mightiest of brass instruments, thy sonorous depths are a thing of awe.  It was once said of the Bassoon that it was as if the sea god Poseidon was speaking, but with the Contrabass Trombone, we have the voice of Yahweh himself.  The ancient God of the Hebrews speaks though this rare and powerful instrument.  I have not been religious in many a year, but I will gladly bow down in reverence before anyone who can wield this bull of heaven. Have I gone over the top?  Probably.  But to the point, there is no other sound in the entire band, orchestra, or any other ensemble, save the ancient Tibetan Dung-Chen, that can parallel the sheer power and might of the Contrabass Trombone.  It’s utter size and length renders it ungainly for most.  For years, it was said to be nigh unplayable, but my experience has shown otherwise.   Continue reading “Contrabass Trombone”