Belonging to the flute family, the Piccolo is a wind instrument and very specifically a Woodwind (which can also be made of metal). Also called the "small flute", the instrument is half the size of the large flute. Let's discover the Piccolo.
It can be in C and more rarely in D flat, in which case it is called a transposing instrument. It is the highest instrument in the symphony orchestra. Because of its particular colour, it often doubles the great flute in the upper octave and its timbre is very piercing in the tutti, which increases the orchestral brilliance. In the lower register, however, it is described as "shaky" and "fragile" according to instrumentation texts.
C. W. Gluck (1714-1787), who introduced it in his operas, called it the "little flageolet". Since then, L. V. Beethoven (1770-1827) has given it an independent role in the "Storm" of his Pastoral Symphony. Other composers were interested in its dominant tone and wrote concertante pieces for it. The end-of-dinner song, known as the "drinking song" in the Freischütz by Carl Maria von Weber (1786-1826), shows a pungent irony through the trills of two piccolos. Hector Berlioz (1803-1869), in his Symphonie fantastique and Damnation of Faust, shows them to have a certain strong character. In Georges Bizet's Carmen (1838-1875), it is reminiscent of the fife (the primitive one-piece flute of military bands). Maurice Ravel (1875-1937) makes the most of it at the beginning of his Concerto in G for piano and orchestra.
Over the years, its expressive possibilities have developed, which has led to an increase in its functions. It can give the impression of hearing a single instrument, while continuing the melodic line of the large flute. Maurice Ravel gives a superb example of this in Daphnis et Chloé, with the sequence given successively to the piccolo, the large flute and the flute in G.
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Saxophone teacher with a Certificate of Proficiency. Conductor and composer, former school director. Member of the Saxophone Quartet of France.
Flute and Piccolo teacher, holder of the Certificat d'Aptitude. Principal flute of the Republican Guard Orchestra.