A piccolo is a small size flute characterized by its Sharp tone. Their sounds are corresponding to the sounds of the common flute, albeit in an octave higher.

Wooden aerophone instrument

Also know as picolo, the piccolo is a aerophone or wind instrument: produces the sound with the vibration of the air that is inside, without membranes or strings. More specifically it is a wooden instrument since the generation of the vibration of the air takes place in the instrument itself, without taking place with the lips of the person who plays it.

Piccolo musician fair masks

The piccolo is a relatively small aerophone instrument

Another classification of the piccolo places it as a transposing instrument: The height of the note that is written does not correspond to the height of the note that is sounded. In this case, the notation is made one octave lower than the actual sound, so not as many auxiliary lines are required in the staff.

Beyond its use in orchestras, the most frequent use of the piccolo is in the military bands. It is possible to recognize the piccolo in the parades that take place during the celebration of the carnival Basel (Switzerland). In its origins it was manufactured in the tonality of D flat and then, from the end of twentieth century, happened to occur in Do.

The sound of the piccolo

Among all the orchestral instruments, the piccolo is the one with the doorbell more acute. Its sound is penetrating and usually stands out among those that sound simultaneously.

Although the piccolo has this “facility” to be noticed above other instruments, this does not mean that it cannot be used to play melodies calm and smooth. This versatility makes it very attractive to young musicians who have not yet decided on an instrument to specialize.

Boehm system

This name refers to the mechanism made up of the keys of various musical instruments within the group of flutes, including the piccolo, whose tone holes are large. Its name responds to its inventor, the also musician Theobald Boehm, who conceived it in the mid-19th century.

Before this creation, flutes were generally made of wood with holes that, given their small size, could be covered with the fingers. Boehm recounted that in 1831 he attended a concert in which the musician Charles Nicholson played a flute with larger openings, which allowed a more sound bulky and sharp than normal.

Appearance and workmanship

If we look at its appearance, it can be said that a piccolo is a flute traversa (or cross) smaller. It is that, although they have differences, both instruments are very similar to the naked eye. They both have the same tessitura and the same Boehm system; its only difference is that the piccolo does not have a leg.

Piccolo Boehm system

A piccolo made entirely of metal

At the beginning of the 20th century, the French wooden piccolo used to have the open system, a feature that gave players the ability to alter the pitch according to the way they covered the holes with the fingers. This was no longer used so that the tuning did not depend on the musician, so that today we could say that pressing a certain key always produces the same sound, although the technique and musicality are two important factors in the result.

exist three material combinations for the manufacture of the piccolo, although the keys are always made in metal: completely in wood, either in wood pulp or black granadillo; only the wooden body, but its metal head; completely in metal, be it zinc, nickel or, in some cases, precious metals.