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Alto trombone position chart

The alto trombone position chart seems to be quite in demand. I included one within my book Alto Trombone Savvy, but not here in my blog, so I thought I should get busy. So here are the alto trombone slide positions. 

Check out my book, Alto Trombone Savvy, in both bass and alto clef for much more detail along with exercises specifically created to help you learn the positions quicker. I consider this book to be the missing manual for the alto trombone.

 

Alto Positions Verus Tenor Positions

In case you may not be aware, the alto trombone slide positions are completely different from tenor trombone. In other words, the alto is not just a smaller tenor. The fundamental of a tenor trombone is concert Bb and the fundamental for an alto trombone is concert Eb.

The partials on the alto, therefore, are a fourth higher than tenor. The second partial on a tenor is Bb at the bottom of the bass clef staff, and the corresponding partial for the alto is the Eb in the middle of the bass clef staff.

Before diving into the position chart, let me make one point. Reading alto clef is NOT required for alto trombone. In fact, I think it is pretty silly to learn alto trombone in alto clef. Unless you plan on being a symphonic player where those ancient parts for alto were written in alto clef, learn the instrument in bass clef. Especially if you are a tenor trombone player, you’ll want to learn the alto trombone using the same notation that you are used to. Otherwise, you’ll never be able to read the parts handed out to you.

Below is a comparison of the first position overtone series between alto and tenor.

So now that you have an understanding of the differences between the overtone series, let’s look at the alto positions.

In the above chart, I have identified the alternate positions after the “/ “.

Using the Low Notes of the Alto

The physics of the alto trombone place low concert A as the lowest natural note just above the “false” tones. Pedal Eb is in first position and 7th position low A is the next natural tone on the horn. I do recommend that you learn to play those false tones between E and Ab for two reasons.

First, so that you can play notes you might be expected to play from a tenor trombone part. Second so as to strengthen your ear for hearing pitch on the alto. Unlike the natural notes, the false tones are mostly dependent on your ear.

Of course, I am referring to an alto without a trigger. With a trigger, you can play all those notes directly above pedal Eb. I have never cared to have a trigger on my alto. Too much unnecessary plumbing!

I’ll leave you with a couple of videos I produced in my favorite place to play: outside! If you plan to play alto within the context of a band expecting you to sound close to a tenor, you’ll need to work on your sound. If you sound thin, you will have a hard time blending in with the other instruments. Playing into the void of outside is a great way to strengthen your playing and your sound!

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Inception
Cinematic @ 68 bpm
Inception
Cinematic @ 68 bpm
Milky Way
Ethereal @ 100 bpm
Milky Way
Ethereal @ 100 bpm
I-VI-II-V
Jazz @ 140 bpm
I-VI-II-V
Jazz @ 140 bpm
Caribbean Express
Salsa @ 165 bpm
Caribbean Express
Salsa @ 165 bpm
Dawn of a New Day
Soul @ 85 bpm
Dawn of a New Day
Soul @ 85 bpm
Spinning Top
Jazz Waltz @ 140 bpm
Spinning Top
Jazz Waltz @ 140 bpm
Sails Full Open
Contemporary @ 120 bpm
Sails Full Open
Contemporary @ 120 bpm
Summer's Dawn
Jazz Waltz @ 110 bpm
Summer's Dawn
Jazz Waltz @ 110 bpm
The Benji Pad
Ethereal @ 100 bpm
The Benji Pad
Ethereal @ 100 bpm
St. Thomas Block Party
Calypso @ 114 bpm
St. Thomas Block Party
Calypso @ 114 bpm
Island Mines
World Music @ 112 bpm
Island Mines
World Music @ 112 bpm
Disco Marley
Reggae-ish @ 110 bpm
Disco Marley
Reggae-ish @ 110 bpm
Earthen Choir
Ethereal @ 92 bpm
Earthen Choir
Ethereal @ 92 bpm
Jungle Dance
Cinematic @ 130 bpm
Jungle Dance
Cinematic @ 130 bpm
Bailey's Waltz
Jazz Waltz @ 110 bpm
Bailey's Waltz
Jazz Waltz @ 110 bpm
Afternoon Daydreaming
Samba @ 90 bpm
Afternoon Daydreaming
Samba @ 90 bpm
Galactica
Epic @ 100 bpm
Galactica
Epic @ 100 bpm
Lush Life
Funk @ 90 bpm
Lush Life
Funk @ 90 bpm
Eleuthera
Bolero @ 90 bpm
Eleuthera
Bolero @ 90 bpm
Good Bye
Ethereal @ 90 bpm
Good Bye
Ethereal @ 90 bpm
Southside Strut
Funk @ 100 bpm
Southside Strut
Funk @ 100 bpm
Standing outside
Bossa @ 150 bpm
Standing outside
Bossa @ 150 bpm
Groovy Jazzy
Jazz funk @ 112 bpm
Groovy Jazzy
Jazz funk @ 112 bpm
Sound Refuge
Eclectic - no temp
Sound Refuge
Eclectic - no temp
Dreaming of Mars
Static harmony without a tempo
Dreaming of Mars
Static harmony without a tempo
Beat Sweeper
Jazz @ 180 bpm
Beat Sweeper
Jazz @ 180bpm
Cruisin'
Fast Americana @ 224 bpm
Cruisin'
Fast Americana @ 224 bpm
Contemplation
Smooth @ 120 bpm
Contemplation
Smooth @ 120 bpm

This is just a fake book example for the type of website I can build for you. Just trying to use a little humor here!