I've been listening to Henry Fillmore's "Trombone Family". It brought me to thinking, how long have trombone smears been around in written sheet music? Was Fillmore, a.k.a. "Father of the Trombone Smear", the first to use trombone smears or the first to popularize them? Who was the first to put them into written sheet music if he wasn't?

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    From the very nature of the trombone, or the sackbut, I can't imagine other than that the smear has "been around" or used by players for as long as the instrument has (ca 15th century?). But you are asking for the first use of the smear as instructed in notation in a published composition, right? Commented Aug 5, 2012 at 7:23
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    @UlfÅkerstedt I was going to post almost the same thing. :P The notion of 15th century sackbut players making silly noises or fart sounds would not surprise me in the slightest.
    – NReilingh
    Commented Aug 5, 2012 at 14:09
  • @UlfÅkerstedt Yes, that is what I was asking. Did Fillmore just popularize the smear or did he come up with it in written notation? If he just popularized it, who first put it into sheet music?
    – Luke_0
    Commented Aug 5, 2012 at 18:25

1 Answer 1


I'm not sure if anyone has actually pinned down the date or composer. Searches on Google or Trombone History books don't yield very much. According to a quote from one link I found:

Its first deliberate use in performance is fairly recent in the long history of the trombone, and its acceptance as a legitimate technique came somewhat later.


Daniel Speer provides the earliest reference to the glissando I have found (1687), when he wrote, “Some slur the trombone’s sound with the breath, but it comes out better and livelier when it is cleanly articulated with the tongue.”

Take a longer look at the link. It really contains a lot more detail.

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