The Various Woodwinds: Family of Flute
On this website, we are talking about the Western Concert C Flute, but there are many other types of flutes that you might like to know about as well. Here I will describe some of the main players of the flute family, from Piccolo to the Fife. Here we go:
The piccolo is the main element of the flute family, and the center of attraction when you visit any concert. The piccolo is a small musical instrument that plays a higher octave than the Concert C flute, which is the distinguishing factor when you are listening to the orchestra. The piccolo can be heard above all other instruments due to its high octave. Piccolos come in metal, various types of wood, and even carbon fiber models today. Some piccolo players rant about it as the flautist’s revenge: the perfect instrument that stands out among all other instruments, without any effort. It is not as difficult to play as the flute (nor does it look as much elegant, to be true), but the music that comes is the most melodious and high pitched that you can possibly make a woodwind instrument sound. It is called the “shrieking twig” by some loving enthusiasts.
The Alto Flute
It is used rarely, because it plays lower than the Concert C flute by an interval of a fourth. Its sound is a velvety, delicious melody, which most people prefer for calm music. The alto flute is quite bigger than the regular flute, and because of that, it sometimes has a curved headjoint, which makes it more comfortable to play.
The Bass Flute
The bass flute is even bigger and lower than the alto flute, and is pitched inn C. It plays one octave lower than the regular C concert flute. This satisfying instrument is rarely seen in choirs and hardly ever seen as a solo performance.
The Contrabass Flute
It is still lower in sound, a full octave lower than the bass flute. This flute is pitched in C. All-flute choirs often need proper bass, and that is where the Contrabass Flutes come in. This impressive instrument is played vertically (it cannot be held sideways). The tube of this flute is usually about 9 feet long, and usually comes with a special stand, so that the player can adjust the exact height of the flute. It does not play loud, but does sound intriguing.
The Flauto d’Amore
It is fondly called the “Flute of love”. It is pitched either in B or in A, a step/minor third below C flute. It has been spotted in historic texts and scriptures; in the Baroque and Romantic periods. It provides the player with dark tonal quality and feels like a C flute under fingers for more technical possibilities.
It is a traditional military instrument. It is a small transverse flute, usually made of wood and pitched in B, C or D, with six holes and zero keys. The fife has a penetrating sound, which makes it a perfect companion for drums, which were used during the American Revolution for battle songs. This instrument was made in the Medieval Europe, and was commonly paired with drums at the time.