Alto flute: what is it, composition, sound, application

Alto flute: what is it, composition, sound, application

The flute is one of the oldest musical instruments. Throughout history, its new species have appeared and improved. A popular modern variation is the transverse flute. The transverse includes several other varieties, one of which is called the alto.

What is an alto flute

The alto flute is a wind musical instrument. Part of the modern flute family. The tool is made of wood. The alto flute is characterized by a long and wide pipe. The valves have a special design. When playing the alto flute, the musician uses more intense breathing than on a regular flute.

Alto flute: what is it, composition, sound, application

Theobald Böhm, a German composer, became the inventor and designer of the instrument. In 1860, at the age of 66, Boehm created it according to his own system. In the 1910th century, the system was called Boehm Mechanics. In XNUMX, the Italian composer modified the instrument to provide low octave sound.

The shape of the flute has 2 varieties – “curved” and “straight”. The curved shape is preferred by little performers. The non-standard form requires less stretching of the arms, creating a feeling of lightness due to the shift of the center of gravity closer to the performer. The direct structure is used more often because it has a bright sound.


Usually the instrument sounds in the G and F tuning – a quarter lower than the written notes. It is possible to extract notes higher, but composers rarely resort to this. The most juicy sound is in the lower register. The upper register sounds sharp, with minimal timbre fluctuations.

Due to the low range, British musicians call this instrument the bass flute. The British name is confusing – there is a world-famous instrument with the same name. The confusion with the name arose due to the similarity with the tenor flute of the Renaissance. They sound the same in C. Accordingly, the lower sound should be called bass.

Alto flute: what is it, composition, sound, application


The area of ​​the main application of the alto flute is the orchestra. Until the end of the XNUMXth century, it was used to extract a low sound as an accompaniment to the rest of the composition. With the development of pop music, it began to be used solo. The part can be heard in Glazunov’s Eighth Symphony, Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring, Boulez’s Hammer Without a Master.

One of the most famous uses of the alto flute in popular music is the song “California Dreamin” by The Mamas & the Papas. A single with the song was released in 1965, becoming an international hit. The soothing brass part was performed by Bud Shank, an American saxophonist and flutist.

When recording soundtracks for films, John Debney uses the alto flute. The Oscar-winning composer has written music for over 150 films. Debney’s credits include The Passion of the Christ, Spider-Man 2, and Iron Man 2.

Alto flute: what is it, composition, sound, application

Invented less than 200 years ago, the alto flute quickly gained popularity and is still used today. The proof is the numerous use in orchestras and when recording pop hits.

Катя Чистохина и альт-флейта

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