The piccolo is a small flute normally pitched in the key of C, which is one octave higher than the concert flute, making it a soprano flute. The fingerings on a piccolo correspond to the fingerings on a flute, but its embouchure is different. It has a very high register with a potential to be shrill or strident.
It is commonly used as an ornamental or flavor instrument; however, many solo pieces and concertos have been written for the it. One of the earliest pieces that made use of the piccolo was Beethoven's Fifth Symphony. It is also used in marching bands, particularly in Italy and Basel, Switzerland.
Types of Piccolos
Kinds of Piccolos include the following:
Standard C piccolo
This type of piccolo is pitched in standard C, one octave higher than the concert flute.
The standard C piccolo is the most common type of piccolo.
It is part of the flute section in concertos and orchestras.
D flat piccolo
This type of piccolo is pitched in the key of D flat.
It is sometimes used in bands.
A flat piccolo
This type of piccolo is pitched in the key of A flat.
It is rarely used outside Italian marching bands.
Choosing Piccolos (Buying tips)
Materials used: Choose a piccolo made of wood to get a mellower timbre. For use in marching bands, choose a composite piccolo made of plastic for more durability.
Construction: Choose a piccolo made only of one material. Two separate materials can lead to having two separate temperatures that can cause tuning inconsistencies.
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