Feature Request: Trombone Fingering +/-

I’d like to be a able to indicate slide positions for trombone with an additional “+” (slightly higher) or “-” (slightly lower) (e.g. “3+” or “4-”)
It is common practice among trombonists as many notes will not be in tune using “standard” positions.

Interesting. I played trombone for years and never saw this once. I would interpret those markings the exact opposite of how you described them (ie- 3- would seem to me a little short of 3rd position, which would make it slightly higher; 3+ would mean extra extension which would make it slightly lower). If this is for a method book, I could understand the desire, but if not, I’d avoid the practice. Trombonists remotely worth their salt should know which positions need to be altered in which register to play in tune. Same for any other wind instrument for that matter.

I want to support the request of AndreasB.
You can find this kind of notation mainly in trombone methods and excercise books. There are to ways of notation:

  1. using + or - (as AndreasB requested) or
  2. with sharps and flats
    You can find examples for both cases attached.

Glad to see an example. I can’t believe I never encountered this. I was a music major and played in concert band through college. I guess the books I had just didn’t use these markings.

Romanos, I’m a professional (jazz)trombone player and teacher, I’ve seen these marks in many methods, especially for alternate positions, which are widely used by jazz players. So, yes, my request was for instructional use.

Thanks HeiPet for adding the sharp/flat option.
Actually this may be clearer than -/+

Here is an additional example taken from the ‘famous’ Arban trombone method.
https://www.dropbox.com/s/mjncwk5zr9jxxwm/Screenshot%202019-12-02%2009.46.32.png?dl=0

I agree about the sharp and flat option. Doesn’t take any decoding to figure out; conversely, as I demonstrated (by accident) above, the other markings could be easily interpreted in the opposite sense without instruction.

At any rate, I don’t doubt you about their standard use at all. I’m just amazed I never saw those markings (or perhaps don’t remember them); I even took trombone lessons as a secondary instrument in music school, but we were often working on the rep I was playing in the concert band rather than a systematic method, since I already knew the basics. (At this point I’ve long since sold my good instrument and I couldn’t muster a note if you paid me…)

Note that Andreas and HeiPet are both from Germany. I’ve never seen them in the US either.

My first example was from Peter Gane (England, Guildhall School of Music) and the second example from Brad Edwards (America). I’ve seen the markings rarely in German publications … :slight_smile:

You are not alone. I have played trombone for 57 years (not an exaggeration) and I have never seen the + or - notation. Very rarely I have seen #4, for example for F above middle C. Mostly I have seen penciled notations that are arrows above individual notes pointing up or down. An arrow pointing up means “Listen carefully. This note tends to sound flat.”

But that notation is not about the positions of the slide. It is more about the context of the notes (i.e. “just” intonation.) Personally I don’t talk about modified positions with young students. This first comes into play when a student gets a trombone with an F attachment. With the F attachment, all the slide positions are longer than the “regular” positions, an it is a geometric series – each position gets progressively longer than the last one. Still, I wouldn’t put this n the printed music.

As students advance I emphasize that there are no “positions” at all. Each note has its own optimal position and the essence of being a good trombonist is to find that optimal place on the slide for each note to sound its best.

I would also point out that while there are some common tendencies (3rd partial tends to be sharp, 5th partial tends to be flat.) this really does vary a lot across equipment, and especially mouthpieces. I have some trombones where the first position notes are pretty much in tune all the way up the arpeggio. So I question whether this notation could do more harm than good.

Having said all that, I do agree the software should allow some customization of the “fingerings”.

I agree that the notation software should be able to show those modified “fingerings”, whether or not it is advisable from a pedagogic point of view.

This Arban’s example is making a very specific point, forcing the trombonist to get used to “alternate positions.” That may have merit. I am all for anything that works with a student, and the software should support this.

Just for clarification, the text notation about D recommends playing in 4th position, which puts it on the 6th partial, which tends to be nearly in tune at the “standard” positions. Beginning students are usually taught to play that D in first position, which puts it on the 5th partial, tending to be flat. And all the Sharp notations are other notes played on that same 5th partial

I’m glad I’m not alone. I really was surprised. I took trombone lessons with the principal trombone of the indianapolis symphony and played, all told, for 8 years in concert settings. It was never really my “thing” and I would have counted it as my 4-5th instrument, but I was still sufficiently immersed at a collegiate level. I used to have a lovely Conn with an F attachment and a gorgeous rose bell. 88h? I was quite smitten with that horn and it was not cheap, but I ended up selling it off since I didn’t need it as I continued my studies.

Jim Beckel? A very nice guy and terrific player and composer. (I live in Indianapolis.) The ISO is loaded with great musicians. A very solid orchestra, although not recognized as the top tier.

When I was about 10 years old, I saw an Olds Recording in a local music store. This was the one with the fluted slide and that same rose colored bell look. I couldn’t put that out of my mind. About 10 years ago, I bought one used just for fun. Didn’t have the same magic as when I was 10, but still nice.

Yep. He’s a great guy.

I’m also a German trombone player and although I don’t remember having seen the plus and minus indicators before I would certainly interpret them as plus meaning high (sharp) position and minus meaning low (flat) position. What I’ve often seen written by hand by trombonists is an up or down arrow before the position number, so that might also be an option. Like ↑4 or ↓3.

This indeed I have seen and used on occasion. Very straightforward (equally to sharps and flats).

Come to think of it, I need to make up and down arrow playing techniques to apply to certain notes in my choral scores. Altos singing the 3rd scale degree… “It’s higher than you think it is!” lol

Here’s a file with “raise” and “lower” that I added as PT.
raise-lower.zip (540 KB)

O.k., let’s make it even more complicated:
One can find indications for the valve (F attachment) as well: V (before or after the slide position)
And for bass trombones you can find VV, when you have to use both valves.
In Germany you can find Q or QQ instead of V or VV.

I know, that Dorico is walking down the semantically correct road, but I think it would be much easier, to allow a prefix and/or suffix to the slide positions (smiilar to e.g, dynamics).