Where to start? Writing a trombone history paper and want to know where to begin? Below is a condensed bibliography listing some good introductory sources. The first category contains books on trombone (or brass in general), while the second contains a sampling of sources that are not trombone-specific, but are nonetheless rich in material about the history of the trombone.
An old classic, originally published in 1976, that still features a good deal of useful information on all the brass instruments, including trombone.
Encyclopedia article, written by Anthony Baines and revised by Myers and Herbert, containing a fairly large amount of useful information about the history of the trombone. Traditionally a common launching point for research on the trombone.
A compilation of specialized, well-documented articles dealing with historical issues. Trombone-rich articles include “The Invention of the Slide Principle and the Earliest Trombone” (Polk), “Cornets & Sagbuts: Some Thoughts on the Early Seventeenth-Century English Repertory for Brass” (Duffin), “Georges Kastner on Brass Instruments” (Carter), “The Reconstruction of Nineteenth-Century Band Repertoire” (Herbert), “Trumpets, Cornets, Trombones, and Horns in the St. Petersburg Museum of Musical Instruments” (Koshelev), and others.
Thoroughly-researched history of jazz trombone, the best of its kind. Appropriately emphasizes major figures, while also including significant detail about lesser-known subjects, such as trombonists in early jazz history.
Well-documented book that includes extensive quotations from primary sources, including several translations not easily found elsewhere.
Like Perspectives in Brass Scholarship (above), this book consists of a number of specialized, thoroughly-referenced articles compiled into a single volume, although this volume includes more material about the recent history of brass instruments. Trombone-rich articles include “‘Sackbut’: the early trombone” (Herbert), “The low brass” (Bevan), “Brass in the modern orchestra” (Wills), “Brass solo and chamber music from 1800” (Wallace), “Frontiers or byways? Brass instruments in avant-garde music” (Wills), and others.
Excellent comprehensive study of the trombone. Only a few years old, it is already considered the instrument’s definitive history.
The best single-volume source for trombone iconography (the way the instrument has been portrayed visually throughout history). It should be noted that the images, although there are many, are limited to black and white prints and drawings. Paintings, sculptures, and other visual art are not included, leaving out some of our instrument’s most useful (not to mention beautiful) iconography; see, for example, paintings included in the 17th century timeline.
An in-depth study of festival books, records of important celebrations kept by rulers of state and other people of influence. Includes extensive mention and visual representation of trombones, particularly in the first half of the book. Oversized volume usually found in the “quarto” section of the stacks.
As the subtitle of the book indicates, this is a history of music in Siena, Italy, during the Middle Ages and Renaissance. Written by a leading musicologist, the book features large spans in which trombone is mentioned on virtually every page, brimming with interesting details about the activities of Italian trombonists during the late Medieval and Renaissance eras.
Excellent translation of Berlioz’s landmark orchestration treatise with extensive commentary by a prominent Berlioz scholar. Trombone is discussed in several contexts. A great source for information about the Romantic-era trombone in France.
A well-researched book that includes significant information about the early history of the trombone, documenting, among other things, the fact that much of the earliest history of the trombone took place in Germany.