Tonguing techniques, slide techniques, mute techniques, and other trombone techniques are examples of different trombone techniques. Multiphonics and percussive playing are examples of techniques that don’t fit into any of the other categories. The use of mutes, articulation, and changing between notes are all common trombone techniques. Depending on the desired effect, these can be used alone or in combination with other techniques. Slide techniques, for example, can be combined with muting techniques to create interesting effects.
Tonguing on the trombone is also known as articulation, and it encompasses a wide range of trombone techniques. Playing legato and playing staccato are the two main techniques that players must master. Legato refers to playing without tonguing or with very light tonguing. Staccato is the polar opposite: playing with a lot of tonguing and well-separated notes. Other techniques, such as double and triple tonguing, require every second or third note to be separated.
Many trombone techniques are related to the use of the slide, which is used to change between notes on the instrument. These are usually used in conjunction with legato tonguing as expressive techniques. Sliding techniques, such as trills, involve a rapid change in pitch between two notes. Vibrato is similar to vibrato, but it involves smaller variations around a single note. A glissando is a pitch transition between two notes achieved moving the instrument’s slide while playing a note.
Mutes aren’t used very often in trombone techniques. Mutes are placed over the trombone’s bell to change the type of sound it makes. A harmon mute is a type of mute that is associated with a specific technique. The end of the mute has a hole that can be covered with the player’s hand to further muffle the note produced. Covering and uncovering the hole in rapid succession produces a “wah wah” effect similar to what guitar “wah” pedals produce.
Other trombone techniques can be employed to produce a wide range of sounds. Microtones are achieved changing the pitch of a note less than a semitone with the slide. When you sing into the mouthpiece while playing the instrument, you get a multi-phonic effect, which means multiple sounds are produced at the same time. To make percussive sounds on the trombone, players can hit the mouthpiece or other parts of the instrument. This can be used to make a very basic drum beat.