With its signature slide that allows the player to change the notes that are played, the trombone is one peculiar horn.
While all other brass instruments use valves and keys to dial in exact notes, the trombone player has to nail the exact length of the slide to hit each note. (The further out that you hold the slide, the longer the air column becomes, and the lower the note is.)
This means that trombone can be an especially difficult instrument to play. And it also means that it can be used to make all sorts of charmingly funny sounds. The most famous of these is the 'sad trombone', which you can giggle along to below.
So, in conclusion, trombones are challenging to play and can sound funny. Now a web designer from Brooklyn named Dan Vecchitto has used these characteristics to create a totally unlikely hit video game: Trombone Champ!
Wait. There's a video game about playing the trombone? And it's a hit?
Yep, no sad trombone punchline required! Here's what it looks (and sounds) like!
The idea behind the game is really simple.
With just a mouse and a keyboard, players watch as the 'notes' come streaming past from right to left. When these notes reach the vertical line on left, players try to match their 'slide' to successfully hit the right note at the right moment.
In this way, it is a lot like the popular Guitar Hero and Rock Band video games where players got to 'play' guitar, bass, and drums along with their favourite rock and pop songs. But Trombone Champ is different from those games in two ways.
First, instead of current pop hits, its songs are classical and jazz songs from the past. (And in some cases, the songs are even national anthems.)
Second, it is really, really hard to do perfectly. But in a good way. That's because every time you make a mistake, it sounds pretty funny. And the more mistakes that you make ... Well, listen to the maker of the game himself talk about it in an interview with CBC.
"It's intentionally impossible to do well," Vecchitto said. "It's one of those games where it's like, the worse you do, the funnier it is."
We agree! And here's some proof...
And everyone loves it
Speaking of the developer, Vecchitto really didn't expect anything from his new video game. It was more just something that he was doing as a challenge in his spare time. He had no money to make a fancy video game. With his wife, Jackie, designing the trombone players and adding silly backgrounds, he just wanted to see what he could create.
But not only has the game caught on, it has gained a lot of fans who are real trombone players! This includes the London Symphony Orchestra, one of the best orchestras in the world. They called it 'genius' as they tweeted out a not-so-good (and therefore super hilarious) version of Beethoven.
Actual genius. Who wants a head to head with our Trombone section?
🔊 Sound on! https://t.co/8OYgnlOZpl
— London Symphony Orchestra (@londonsymphony) September 22, 2022
So funny! In the end, Trombone Champ is one of those games that reminds us that sometimes the best part about life is being able to not take things so seriously and enjoy the experience of making silly mistakes. (Also, players keep score by collecting 'toots'!) Lots of players are uploading videos of their own attempts at playing the game, and as Vecchitto says, the 'worse' the playing, the funnier it is.
That said, if you really try, sometimes you can make the game sound kind of lovely. (You could even create your own solos if you like.) Let's end things with a mostly great rendition of O Canada.
We stand on guard ... whomp whaaaaaaahhh!