Music Banter

Go Back   Music Banter > Artists Corner > Talk Instruments
Register Blogging Search Today's Posts Mark Forums Read
Welcome to Music Banter Forum! Make sure to register - it's free and very quick! You have to register before you can post and participate in our discussions with over 70,000 other registered members. After you create your free account, you will be able to customize many options, you will have the full access to over 1,100,000 posts.

Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
Old 10-05-2012, 09:31 AM   #1 (permalink)
The Music Guru.
 
Burning Down's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2009
Location: Beyond the Wall
Posts: 4,730
Default Alto Flute.

I have acquired an alto flute as a year long rental because I need it for school. It's a transposing instrument, tuned in G instead of C (as the regular flute is), and it has a great sound! I love it and hope to have one of my own one day. The cheaper ones cost about $5,000. The retail price of this particular one is about $8,000.

Size comparison with my own regular C flute:





There is also the option of using a curved head joint, as on the bass flute, but I don't like that feeling on the alto. So I use the straight head joint because it's more comfortable for me.
Burning Down is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-07-2012, 11:36 AM   #2 (permalink)
The Music Guru.
 
Burning Down's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2009
Location: Beyond the Wall
Posts: 4,730
Default

Here is the difference in sound between the two flutes. I'm playing both examples and the excerpt is the first movement of Telemann's Fantasia 2 in A minor.

Here is the piece played on the regular C flute (soprano flute), for which it was actually written:



And here is the same piece played on the alto flute. The alto flute is a transposing instrument - everything in the key of C major sounds a fourth below in G major. This goes for every key, major and minor, so for example D major will sound as A major and E minor will sound as B minor on the alto flute.

In this case, the piece is written in A minor but on the alto flute, it sounds in E minor. You will notice a difference between the two.



The alto flute sounds airier because of the bigger bore and it also requires a lot more air. The mechanism is slower, heavier, and less agile than that of the soprano flute, and if you listen closely to the sound clip, you can hear it clicking.
Burning Down is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-09-2012, 03:33 PM   #3 (permalink)
Komopingetmi
 
Frownland's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2011
Location: Atop of the Throne
Posts: 31,499
Default

I didn't know that there were different types of flutes, I just thought that there was the one size and that you can add the curved extension to make a soprano a bass flute. I guess that was naive of me, though. Which type do you prefer to play? I've only played soprano.
__________________
At a time like this, scorching irony, not convincing argument, is needed.

Frownland is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-09-2012, 04:10 PM   #4 (permalink)
The Music Guru.
 
Burning Down's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2009
Location: Beyond the Wall
Posts: 4,730
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by Frownland View Post
I didn't know that there were different types of flutes, I just thought that there was the one size and that you can add the curved extension to make a soprano a bass flute. I guess that was naive of me, though. Which type do you prefer to play? I've only played soprano.
Yes, there are several different kinds. Most orchestral and band scores only call for the soprano C flute and the piccolo. Very rarely are the other kinds used, except for in flute ensembles (flute choirs), and even then most of those groups are made up of regular soprano flutes - there may only be 3 or 4 altos and 3 or 4 basses.



Top to bottom:
Bass Flute
Alto Flute
Soprano Flute with the B foot key (what I personally own and what most professionals use. This flute extends down to the B below middle C)
Soprano Flute (no B foot key, good for beginners and intermediate students)
Eb Flute (rarely used, I have never seen parts for it nor have I ever actually SEEN one.)
Piccolo

There are also contrabass flutes, which are played standing up and they are shaped like a backwards 4:



Here are other types of bass flutes as demonstrated by this ensemble:



L - R: Two Contralto flutes in G, two Contrabass flutes in C with B-foot key, one Subcontrabass flute in G with C-foot key.

The alto and all the bass flutes are so rare in orchestras simply because they do not have the powerful sound required to cover the bass parts. So for low woodwind parts, composers will write for the bass clarinet, bassoon, and contrabassoon over the bass flutes.

The bore of each flute is also a different diameter and the length is different - larger flutes have a larger bore and are longer (hence why the huge flutes have a curved head joint. Playing the large flutes with straight head joints is not anatomically possible.)

Personally, I (and most other flutists) prefer to play the soprano C flute, simply because of the fact that there are a myriad of solo works written for it and the orchestral and ensemble parts are not as few and far between as with the other kinds of flutes. But after almost 15 years of playing the soprano flute, it is nice to branch out to the lower octaves. All of these flutes read the treble clef and have the same fingering mechanism as the soprano flute, for easy transition. Basically meaning, if you play one flute, you can play all the rest. This goes for most instruments that come in different sizes as well (like clarinets or saxophones).
Burning Down is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Similar Threads



2003-2019 Advameg, Inc.

SEO by vBSEO 3.5.2 ©2010, Crawlability, Inc.