Toward a Semiotic Approach to Analyzing the Trombonist's Repertoire

Paul Garza, Lone Star Community College

This study seeks to build upon methodologies in analysis of gesture and embodiment informed by writings in brass pedagogy to develop a theory of musical gesture that incorporates idiomatic aspects of playing the trombone. Researchers of musical gesture have interrogated idiomatic qualities of various instruments and the voice but have mostly overlooked those qualities in brass instruments. There is work in topic theory, discussing the trombone as a signifier of sacred topics, but this view of is far too limited in scope. It seems appropriate that idiomatic aspects of playing the trombone should also be investigated and probed for gestural qualities that might project musical meaning. This paper draws connections in mental approaches to playing and singing as well as physical similarities in sound production between brass instrumentalists and vocalists to apply existing methodologies of analyzing gesture in the voice to a new instrument, the trombone.