Le saquebute

Readers may recognize the title of this post, and of the article reproduced above, as the French cognate for the old English word “sackbut,” or trombone. And of course it is. For anyone who doesn’t read French, however, the article is actually about a French trombone sextet founded in 1909.

It played nothing but music written for trombone. Surely that means transcribed. Hardly any original trombone ensemble music existed then, and I doubt if any exists even now for the group’s instrumentation.

It used six different sizes of trombone, one each of piccolo (!), soprano, alto, tenor, bass, and contrabass.

I am indebted to one of musicology’s “four Rs”: RIPM (the others being RISM, RILM, and RIdIM). The acronyms are all French, but they are international databases that guide musicologists to various kinds of resources. RIPM indexes nineteenth- and early twentieth-century musical periodicals.

The last chapter of my upcoming book is based, in part, on sources I could not have discovered without RIPM


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