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I am making a brass quintet, and I need two trumpets, a horn, a trombone, and a tuba. I have all except the trombone. Can a baritone substitute for the trombone part? Will it have a similar tone and/or style of play?

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There will be differences in the tone quality, because the baritone/euphonium is a conical bore instrument whereas the trombone is a cylindrical bore. (Generally speaking, this means that the trombone will have a brighter tone than the baritone/euphonium.)

But in terms of range, the two instruments are pretty similar, and the baritone can certainly play the trombone part. Furthermore, the two players will typically read the same clefs, assuming they're from the same background. Just watch out for trombone-specific techniques that a baritone won't be able to play, like a long glissando.

And by the way, going the other way could be more difficult. If a baritone part has lots of 16th notes, it's probably not wise for a trombone player to attempt to play it (sorry, trombonists...).

Edit: As the comments helpfully state, there is a difference between baritone and euphonium, but I think it's safe to say OP isn't working with a British brass band.

  • Thanks Richard! The piece doesnt have any glissandos so i should be good. – William Jun 15 '17 at 22:57
  • Waiting for trombonists to flame you for that last sentence... – Carl Witthoft Jun 16 '17 at 11:38
  • In British Brass band, euphonium and baritone have distinct roles, and are not generally considered interchangeable. Baritone is a horn, whereas euphonium is a small tuba. – Brian THOMAS Jun 16 '17 at 12:20
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    In some territories 'Baritone horn' and 'Euphonium' seem interchangable. But in more educated surroundings, like the British brass band, they are quite different instruments. As different as a trumpet is to a cornet (and in the same way). – Laurence Payne Jun 16 '17 at 12:21
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    Re: your last sentence: As a trombone player, I will note that just because it would not be wise for a trombonist to play something doesn't mean they won't attempt it. – Michael Seifert Jun 16 '17 at 13:53
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As well as the answer about the tone quality of trombone vs baritone, you also consider the sheet music you play from.

Brass Quintet trombone parts are notated at concert pitch using a variety of clefs. Baritone players (in British Brass band at least) expect treble-clef Bb parts. So unless your baritone player is already a trombonist and used to the idea of clefs and transposition, you'll either have to write out some transposed parts

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    But as trombone players (in British Brass band at least) expect treble-clef Bb parts too, the problem is sort of self-solving, as long as all your players come from the same musical environment. If you DO find yourself with a brass band baritone player, try to encourage him to embrace the opportunity to learn bass clef rather than taking the easy way out. – Laurence Payne Jun 16 '17 at 12:25
  • Whilst the tenor trombonists in the British Brass Band tradition will expect treble clef Bb parts, the Bass Trombonist will expect Bass Clef Concert Pitch parts (and will kick up a storm if they don't get them! DAHIKT!!) ;-) – tubadaz Jun 21 '17 at 14:38

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