How to Write Trombone Music

The trombone uses special techniques due to its slide.

Writing for trombone requires specific knowledge of the instrument's technical abilities, range, and special techniques. The trombone is a member of the brass family and has a range similar to the trumpet. The trumpet plays an octave higher, though. Trombone fits into a variety of styles including classical, ska, rock, jazz, blues, band and small ensemble works. Learning to write for the trombone will make it possible to enhance your music and create appropriate music that falls easily into the trombone's range.

Write music for the trombone in the bass clef. Choose a key signature for your music. Trombone players prefer music written with flats. You can write music with sharps, but flats are better suited to the instrument. The best keys for trombones have one to three flats in the key signature. The more flats you add, the more awkward the music becomes.

Begin writing your melody. Remember the trombone range is only E2 to C5. Aim for a range in the middle of this register. The best range for a trombone is F3 to G4. Include glissandos if appropriate to the music. Glissandos are indicated by a wavy line that stretches between two pitches. The trombonist will smear the notes in between the two notes to create an impression of a blurred scale.

Add articulations and dynamics to indicate how each note should be played. The most common articulations are accents that create a sharp emphasis on a note, legato that connects notes together with a slur and tenuto lines above the notes that indicate to play each note the full value.


Scientific pitch notation assigns letters and numbers to determine exact pitches on the staff. In scientific pitch notation the C above the bass clef staff, also known as middle C, is C4. The C an octave lower is C3 and an octave higher is C5. The numbers refer to the octave each pitch is in.


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