C Flute

C Flute

C Flute range

The C Flute is THE Flute of common use.  You may forgive me for not expounding upon its general technique, but I can hardly add much more than has been said in other books on orchestration.  In general, flutists are the technicians of the wind world.  Pretty much anything technique wise is possible to a competent flutist.

In the band, there are generally two parts for the C Flute, but this is by no means a hard limit.  Outside of strict wind ensembles (groups with only one player per part), there are usually many flute players.  Dividing the section up into three or four groups is completely feasible, and at times encouraged.  Many bands have section of four to eight players.  Why not take advantage of this?

As I will more fully address in the section on the flute family as a whole, the flute is really the odd man out in the whole of the band.  No other instrument really stands alone like the flute does.  What I mean by this is that there are no like tone colors to complement the C Flute in all ranges soprano to bass.  The C Flute is king (or perhaps, more aptly queen) of the soprano.  Nearly 100 percent of the time, there is no alto, tenor, or bass.  A good bandestrator needs to realize this – the flute is alone.  It is a solo voice.  This fact alone is why I have included the entirety of the modern flute family in this section.

The C Flute will blend with nearly every other instrument in the band.  Blends with the Oboe, often considered its closest neighbor, can be a bit awkward.  Flute and Oboe are almost exact opposites as far as soprano voices go.  Flutes weaken towards the bottom of their register, while oboes strengthen.  This can lead to unbalanced combinations between the two families.  Keep both instruments out of their bottom registers and your blend should be smooth.

An often forgotten blend is that of C Flute and Bassoon at the unison or the octave.  These two timbres nearly always produce a beautiful sound.

Flute and any species of clarinet will work very well.  One of the most unusual combinations, that while a struggle for the players to maintain still produces a beautiful effect, is that of C Flute and Soprano Saxophone.  The sweetness of the flute is countered by the bite of the saxophone, and the overall effect is of something wholly new.

Flute plus brass tends to have problems of balance.  Brass instruments, by their very nature can overpower the flute.  The best caution here is one of range.  If you want the flute to stand out, keep it separated range-wise from the heavy brass and both voices will be heard.

Mozart’s Concerto in G

Varèse’s Density 21.5

Debussy’s Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun

7 thoughts on “C Flute

  1. Pingback: Flutes – Introduction | Bandestration

  2. Pingback: Flute d’Amore or Mezzo-Soprano Flute | Bandestration

  3. Pingback: Alto Flute | Bandestration

  4. Pingback: Flutes – Flutes in the Band | Bandestration

  5. Pingback: The Wind Ensemble | Bandestration

  6. Pingback: The French Band | Bandestration

  7. Artemio

    Figured I should mention.
    Do you know what’s my favorite instrument combination?
    Flute and english horn.
    It’s a poignant, beautiful, plantive sound. Similar effect as the flute and clarinet doubling in octaves but more reedy and thin.
    To get a good idea of this, listen to the 1812 Overture, there’s a flute/english horn duet about middle of the piece.

Comments are closed.