Treasure/The Contrabass Trombone

Contrabass TromboneEvery issue, we invite one member of the college community to share their delight in an object found on campus. Here Eric High (Music) speaks to his contrabass trombone, an instrument unfamiliar to many that continues to open doors for High and his students in terms of both performance and scholarship.

It’s a Rath contrabass trombone – an English horn, pitched in the key of F. It can play very loud, and sound really ominous. In superhero movies, when there’s a low threatening brass sound, chances are that’s a mixture of tubas and contrabass trombones. It can also sound very mellow and sonorous.

There’s sort of a fascination with it because it’s so gargantuan. It’s … circus-like, it’s so big. There’s a little entertainment value with it – I’m well aware of its effect on people! Contrabass trombones are still fairly rare here outside of the big recording areas, and they’re not inexpensive. My students are pretty intrigued by it. I try to give them a chance to play it when they’re ready. It might not be everybody’s cup of tea but low-brass players are very interested in it. It’s a great avenue for performing opportunities and to pursue my scholarship. If there’s something that gives me the chance to do something different, well, it’s this.

July 1, 2019