Contrabass trombone - Sound combinations
Contrabass trombone + brass instruments
Contrabass trombone + trombone
Written as the 4th trombone in orchestral scores the contrabass trombone often plays an octave below the bass or tenor trombone. It is given thematic tasks to perform as well as the fundamental bass in the four-part trombone section (Wagner, Verdi, Puccini, Strauss).
Combines with the tenor and bass trombones to form a polyphonic trombone section.
Trombone + trumpet
Trumpets blend well with trombones and give them a brighter sound.
Trombone + horn
Full and mellow overall sound, the trombone’s brassy sound is masked by the horns.
Contrabass trombone + tuba
Bass lines are possible in unison with the bass tuba, which has a very different timbre from the contrabass trombone. In Wagner’s Ring, in Richard Strauss and in Schoenberg’s Gurrelieder it also plays an octave above the bass tuba.
A mute reduces the disparity between the timbres of the contrabass trombone and the bass tuba.
Despite its different timbre the tuba has often been used for the bass part of the trombone section instead of the contrabass trombone, mainly in order to provide a solid foundation in tutti passages. Compared to the tuba the contrabass trombone sounds far more concise, definite and metallic.
Contrabass trombone + woodwinds
The combination with the contrabassoon and the bass clarinet produces a dark, warm, penetrating sound which is used especially for low bass lines.