According to historical records, the Flemish population of northern France probably invented the trombone, although the exact origins of the instrument remain uncertain. The trombone appeared in the middle of the 15th century as a variation of the trumpet, also a brass instrument. The trombone resembles the trumpet in some aspects of design, but has a sliding tube and produces lower-pitched tones.
Trombones, also called sackbuts, arrived in the courts of Burgundy, France during the late 1400s. They appeared in paintings around 1490 and eventually gained popularity in Germany. These instruments changed in shape and purpose throughout history. Trombones of the 16th century feature a smaller size and more intricate detailing than modern instruments of the 20th century. Initially, trombones came in small sizes and accompanied choirs and vocalists. Later, they joined orchestras, beginning in the 18th century. Trombones come in tenor, bass and alto sizes to meet the needs of orchestras and ensembles. Although different in size, trombones share a similar structure of cylindrical bodies, like trumpets, with flared horns at the end. Trombones also have sliding handles to produce deeper, richer tones. Some trombones come with additional tubes that produce a broader range of notes. These instruments play jazz songs, classical music and blues, among other genres.