The trombone as signifier in sacred germanic works of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries

Towers, Sha
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During the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, Germanic composers recognized and propagated certain rhetorical associations of the trombone. Following a tradition of signification in sacred dramatic works, these composers used the trombone to represent or reinforce religious ideology in a variety of sacred genres. In part, these associations were the consequence of Germanic vernacular translations of the Bible which began in the fifteenth century. Centuries later, musical and literary examples attest to the influence of the psycho-linguistic association between trombone and biblical text. The trombone also shares a rich tradition of symbolic association with its organological ancestor, the trumpet. Numerous iconographic and literary sources from ancient cultures support the importance of symbolism in this instrument family. The associations identified with the trombone's ancestors help to establish the framework out of which the Germanic tradition of the trombone as a signifier emerges centuries later.