Saturday, July 21, 2007

A Properly Drawn Trombone Player...

This is by Corbett Vanoni
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[The following is one of my pet peeves also. No one seems to be able to draw a trombone player correctly...]
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I'd like to take a break from sketches for a moment to talk to you all about something very, very important.
A long time ago I spoke to Steve Worth over at the ASIFA Animation Archive about how outraged I was that I never see a properly drawn trombone player. Vexed, irked and livid I was!

The concept behind holding and playing a trombone is a simple one, yet everytime I see a trombone in a cartoon they screw it up! Trumpet, Sousaphone and Piccolo players are struttin' around like pros while the trombone player fumbles with his slide and plays the fool!
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The problem seems to root itself in the initial GRIP of the instrument - most people just pick a spot at random and CLAMP a hand on it like it's welded tight. Then they get confused about how the slide moves - so they figure "if I get the hand anywhere near the slide it'll work. . ." the same way you'd try and cheat a punctuation test by placing your apostrophe directly above the "s" instead of before or after it.

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A) This lady has obviously never held a trombone in her life. Her right hand is CLAMPED onto the bell for dear life and her left hand (though pinky extended) is moving the slide when it should be holding the instrument.

B) This guy's form is so bad there are stink lines emanating from the end of his instrument. (eeew!) His trombone appears to be impaling him right through the chest, and he's trying to hold the trombone and move the slide in the SAME SPOT! What a retard!

C) When in doubt, hide any parts you're not sure of. This may mean placing your trombone player's hands behind his head, or putting the whole character behind a really fat tuba player.

D) Well this is just stupid. It almost looks correct, doesn't it? The hands are actually in the right positions! But the artist has designed a trombone to rival the best M. C. Escher creation. Try to figure out where all those ambiguous tubes are going and you'll see what I mean. Besides, Skippy here has it on the wrong shoulder.


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FIG. 1: The trombone sits on the left shoulder and is held in place with the left hand. Specifically, the thumb (located on a horizontal bar) and the pinky and ring finger (located on a vertical bar). The index and and middle finger can move freely and are often rested on the mouthpiece.
The slide is moved to and fro in a nimbly-bimbly manner using the right hand. Specifically the thumb, index finger. Though any number of fingers can be used, as long as they exhibit a light touch.
DO NOT CLAMP THE RIGHT HAND ONTO THE SLIDE WITH A CLINCHED FIST! Only trombone players with shiny new helmets do that.
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FIG. 2: Here is a shot from the right side, showing a good view of all the plumbing! (photo has been cropped to eliminate the vulgar plumbing!) Look at how happy our subject is! Knowing that he is displaying proper trombone holding technique!
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FIG. 3: Here is a picture of some figs.

Help spread the word and fight improper trombone holding in cartoons.
I tell you what. . .if you draw me a trombone player correctly clenching his instrument, I'll post it up here on the blog for all the world to see so that people can see how smart you are!


Erin said...

Hey! I just happened upon your sight while looking for trombone cartoons. This blog made me laugh. I actually work for a band from New Orleans called Bonerama. You would REALLY enjoy them. They play funky rock and roll, and the lead music is four trombones, a sousaphone for the bass, a guitar, and drums. Two of the lead trombonists played with Harry Connick Jr. for almost 20 years. Check them out... Do NOT go to, that sight is NOT about trombones.

Jassmonsteret said...

Wellwellwell..haha..those few times I catch a glimpse of a cartoon trombone...I think've had the same experience.

Your subject appears to hold the trombone patting the slide with both his ring finger and index finger. I was taught to only use my index finger but find this way the more comfortable.

eh, if someone drew a correctly clenching trombonist, only that he's playing lefty.


Well, I'm one of Family Guy's character designers currently about to draw Peter Griffin holding a trombone so thank you for the invaluable insight. I'll try to do you proud, sir!!!

Vanoni! said...

I didn't know I'd made it out of my blog and ventured out into another! You should have told me!

This subject was probably told to hold his trombone differently when he was younger, but he was also taught to play the trombone badly when he was younger. It wasn't until high school when I was whipped into shape by a fabulous teacher (and former Basie musician) and realized I could just as well hold the trombone with my ears if I could still make it produce a delightful sound.

(Editors note: I have not yet learned to hold a trombone with my ears)

Stephanie R. said...

Hey, I'm a designer in animation too! My friend was about to draw me holding a trombone and told him, "you better damn well draw me holding it right!!" I HATE when a cartoon is holding a trombone wrong. I'm glad you share my sentiment. :)

Communism said...

Thanks for making this. :)