The family of flutes

The "ordinary" flute is a soprano instrument. Another member of the family of Böhm flutes is the Piccolo. Normally it is tuned one octave higher than the great flute and also in C. Less common is the Piccolo tuned in d flat.

A real rarity is the Piccoletto in Es. It is about 2,5 cm shorter than an ordinary Piccolo.

Another unusual member of the flutes family is the Flautino in G. Regarding it's length this instrument is between the great flute and the Piccolo. Lately this instrument is used again for small children and thus becomes more frequent again.

The Flute d´amour (or Flute d´amore) or tenor flute (available in both A or B) has has a history beginning in 18th century.

More frequently used is the alto flute in G. Due to the irregular naming of the flutes, the alto flute is longer and sounds deeper than the tenor flute.

In symmetry to the Piccolo, regarding it's relation to the great flute, the bass flute is exactly one octave deeper tuned than the great flute. It is mainly used in flute ensembles and jazz music.

A special kind of bass flute is the Albisiphon, named after it´s inventor, a flute builder from Milan, named Abelardo Albisi (1872-1939). The flute is played in vertical, using the key system invented by Böhm. The flute was built in two sizes one tuned in C (baritone) or in F (alto). The head joint is horizontal, very short and closed on both sides, thus the instrument looks like a T.

During the last 10 or 15 years, there were some new instruments added to the flute family: the great bass flute (one octave deeper than the alto flute), the contra bass flute (one octave beneath the bass flute) and the sub contra flute (two octaves under the alto flute).

The following picture shows the normal flute, the alto and the piccolo and gives an impression of the relations of latitude.

Flute, alto and piccolo

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Author: Claudia Haider; Last updated 02.05.2014