Trombone slide

I cannot get a proper slide/glide/gliss with trombone, despite putting it on CONTINUOUS and keeping in what is technically possible for the trombone. It still sounds "chromatic. Please help.

Feeding the Trombone through Note Performer (or NPPE) should allow a chromatic slide larger than a few semitones. How that works with the soundset you plan to use is the question.

Thanks so much Derrek. I have Noteperformer on my system, together with BBC SO Pro and Dorico 5 Pro. How do i feed the trombone through Noteperformer though?

Do you have NotePerformer’s NPPE for BBC SO?

Probably need to use the NotePerformer Engine for BBC. However fair warning and this goes for most libraries - they will need to have actual recorded slides/portamentos for instruments for this to sound right, and in addition the NotePerformer playback engine will need to support it as well. Looking at their page on BBC for trombones, it appears slides are not supported. You will, however, be able to get a non-chromatic sound, but just as a heads up it will sound pretty synthetic, what it does is literally pitch-bends the sample like a synth. This has been fine for me to get an idea while composing, but don’t expect that it will sound realistic, sadly.

1 Like

Thanks so much Wing (:
I have looked at a variety of other libraries for brass and none of them have it as an option.
Strangely i am able to use it in Sibelius Ultimate with Noteperformer.
Thanks again for your trouble.

a trombone gliss certainly works fine with NotePerformer and NPPE – I just checked it now. The two things most likely to make it not work are either a) your gliss is more than an octave – NP as with most other libraries does not support a gliss of over 12 semitones or b) you’ve changed or are not using the official NP Expression Map. The pitch bend range in the header must be set to 12 as illustrated below.

1 Like

Thanks so much, i will try this today - much appreciated, since the piece that i’m composing needs to use Gliss - nothing more than a 5th. Best wishes. Steven

Fifth glisses are impossible. A trombone gliss never exceeds an augmented fourth, between 1st and 7th position of the slide.


aaaah thank you!

And remember that 1st position (slide in) produces the series of harmonic overtones on B flat (regular tenor trombone). It’s not possible to gliss between different overtones (without hearing a transition). So you have from Bb (root and octaves) down to E, from F down to B (natural), from D (5th harmonic) down to G# etc.
Always know the workings of the instruments you write for. When in doubt, ask a friendly instrumentalist. Or this forum!
(Edit to add: I always have orchestration manuals lying around. Cheat sheets everywhere. I’m a string player)

1 Like

they are not impossible for NotePerfomer. You are assuming that the OP is writing for live performance which is not always the case. But of course you are indeed correct that a trombone in the real world cannot gliss beyond a tritone.

Thank you, i consider myself re-educated (;
I have clearly not written for trombone before, but needed an effect in a new piece - mimicking the sounds that whales make. i will rethink this.

Technically yes, but with a trigger there are a lot of possibilities. Pretty sure I’ve heard about oldschool players, especially on old-school trigger-less bass 'bones, pulling the tuning slide as far out as it would go, which could give you an extra slide position or so, if you push it back in as you’re doing the gliss.

here’s a famous excerpt from the Bartok Concerto for orchestra that basically required the technique, to come up all the way from Bb to F

1 Like

It is a B natural, not B flat.


I guess no one told Herbert Owen Reed the maximum span of trombone glissandi, because in the “El Toro” march in the first movement of La Fiesta Mexicana, he asks the trombone players to perform glissandi spanning a perfect fifth:

Still impossible though.

What players do in such an occassion (try their best to find a solution in the spirit of what’s written) is an interesting discussion.

In this case, it’s either a F → Bb gliss and pop the C at the end, or a Ab → C real gliss, or a G → C gliss on the F valve, but I don’t know if timbre is of more importance than an extra step in the gliss or not.

It’s the same thing with third octave G-A trill for flute, it’s not really there.


He obviously should have used (better) cheat sheets. This gliss is really impossible, with or without adjusting the tuning slide (which is a very risky workaround I wouldn’t recommend using in any orchestration)

To my knowledge, still too far for the bass trombone that only has 6 positions within reach?
@TylerE The video talks about a ‘Bartók bass trombone’. Is that a thing? Is it an older type of bass trombone, having 7 positions? Is it closer to the bass sackbut they brought in?

It’s talking about the old school “real” bass, which is a (usually non-valved) horn pitched in F or G. The modern bass trombone is a larger bore Bb tenor with a trigger valve to drop down to F, but the basic horn is pitched the same as the Bb Tenor.