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The Trombone ForumTeaching & LearningPedagogy(Moderators: JP, Doug Elliott) # of positions(for advanced players)
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boneinallpositions
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« on: Oct 21, 2005, 07:21AM »

Ok, so when we learn trombone we learn 7 positions but I spoke to a trombone professeur and he said there were actually 52 positions on the trombone.

Can someone please fill me in?
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Slidennis

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« Reply #1 on: Oct 21, 2005, 07:39AM »

Let's say 4 octaves, i.e. * 12 notes (by half tones) = 48 positions at least, + alternates...   Horrors!  Yeah, RIGHT.  Yeah, RIGHT.
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Denis
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« Reply #2 on: Oct 21, 2005, 08:23AM »

Might be a reference to an article that someone (Mark McDunn?) wrote many years ago where he carefully tuned all the notes that he usually played and charted the place on the slide they were most in tune. For example, he found something like 6-7 places that notes in 3rd position were in tune. Same with other positions. I believe the title of the article was "The 52 positions of the slide trombone".

The final part of the article, he shows the chart to another professional trombonist who says, "That's funny, my trombone only has 49."

If you count the notes from pedal E to F above high Bb, including the valve notes (a basic advanced range, certainly higher and lower notes are possible), that is 12 partials in 7 positions=84 notes (with F attachment 12x11 positions=132 notes). But just counting the most used places and the common alternates, that is really 60-70 notes. Finding 52 places to get those notes exactly in tune sounds plausible.

The real point is, what we call 7 positions are only approximate guides to finding the pitch centers of the chromatic scale on our long handheld tuning slide, and even then one often has to alter those places to match other musicians.

I always preach to my students,   Clever "You don't play trombone with your arm, you play it with your ear." ;-)
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JP
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bnyc

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« Reply #3 on: Oct 21, 2005, 08:30AM »

I don't know about you all, but I'd rather think of sharp 5 for      than position #41. :)

Spot on JP - we train our hand to go to roughly the right spot, and we use our ear to adjust.  7 positions is a convenient way of visualizing the horn, but it's the ear that matters in the end.
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KrowleyRock
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« Reply #4 on: Oct 21, 2005, 09:15AM »

there must be much more than 52, i would think. we have to make alterations for out of tune partials (obviously), which note in a chord we are playing, whether we are playin a C# or Db(or any other enharmonic note), and any other sort of thing.
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john sandhagen
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« Reply #5 on: Oct 21, 2005, 10:00AM »

Either 52 or 56, depending on which syntatic comma you observe.

A syntatic comma is the difference between C and B# if you go through the circle of fifths in PERFECT fifths...C, G, D, A, E, B, F#, C#, G#, D#, A#, E#, B#.  If you continue around and around you'll eventually get back to the C you started with.  If you know what key you are in, which note you are playing in the chord and every body around you agrees that the'll adjust that way too, then it could work.  In equal temperment the fifth is squashed a bit so that this doesn't happen.

If your theory is that good and remembering 52 positions are easier for you, go for it.  Otherwise listen to the above folks.
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John Sandhagen,
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boneinallpositions
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Thx
« Reply #6 on: Oct 21, 2005, 11:38AM »

Hey thanks guys, I think I understand it now.
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« Reply #7 on: Oct 24, 2005, 03:21AM »

Quote from: "john sandhagen"
Either 52 or 56, depending on which syntatic comma you observe.

.


Well, not completely.  

Temperament does make a difference, but difference from equal temperament is not the only reason, or even the largest reason, the partials need to be adjusted.

You have to add in the fact that the trombone is neither perfectly cylindrical nor conical, and has bends, restrictions, etc., all of which contribute variation from any kind of mathematical relationship.

The only solution I know is to practice with a drone.  I wish I'd known about this 30 years ago!  

Where the comma does come back into to it I think is where two slightly separated positions both sound right.  From what I understand, it is common for advanced musicians to hear both notes in tune, and if told to tune will switch to the other one.  Usually this comes out to being the spot for two different temperament tunings.
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Tim Richardson
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