E-flat Soprano Flute

E-flat Soprano

E-Flat Soprano Flute Range

Like the G Treble Flute, the E-Flat Soprano Flute is pitched midway between the C Flute and the Piccolo.  It is the only member of the modern flute family not pitched in either C or G.  The pitch of E-flat is a relic of a time when bands sometimes used a small flute to replace the small E-flat Clarinet.

Jazz saxophone plays sometimes will use this instrument due to its key being the same as the Alto and Baritone Saxophones.  In this same regards, some manufactures will make a B-flat “Tenor” Flute* pitched a second below the C Flute (and a minor third above the Alto!) for use in jazz.

The best of my research leads me to believe that this flute is no longer being manufactured by any companies, so any instruments will be older (though, by no means unserviceable).  I would generally advise against the use of this instrument.  Being pitched only a minor third above the C Flute, it does not provide much of a range difference, only four or five notes higher, and those are questionable in response.  The sound is also fairly similar to the C Flute.  If, however, you find yourself having this instrument available, then its technique will be the same as the C Flute.

Were I to have to choose between the G Treble and the E-flat Soprano, I would always choose the G Treble.

[*Flutes pitched in either B-flat or A below the C Flute are more properly known as Flutes d’Amore.]

2 E-flat Flutes with a C Flute playing a Scottish melody.

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Flutes – Introduction

Flutes

 

Introduction

            The flute family is the highest voice in the band.  The C Flute, and its close kin the Piccolo, carry the top notes, and indeed are sometimes the only instruments capable of playing in the top soprano range with delicacy.  The flute, however is a loner in the band world.  It is a woodwind with no reed.  Its sound production is unlike any other instrument, and thus it becomes the one unique voice in the ensemble.  This fact, however, has gone unnoticed by most arrangers and bandestrators.  The traditional role of the flute is a simple soprano, but this role may be changing.

The Flute Family has recently undergone a massive expansion.  The popularity of flute choirs has seen a rise in the so-called “harmony” flutes.  When we think of the flute, we picture the traditional C Flute, but this is now only the tip of a much larger family.  These new voices are just waiting to be explored by creative orchestrators and bandestrators.

 

Nomenclature – Traditional flute nomenclature does not work.  For years the standard C Flute and Piccolo were the only flutes available for use, and then came along the slightly larger Flute in G, which we know as the Alto Flute.  However, the earliest composers to use this instrument, like Gustav Holst, called the instrument a Bass Flute.  Hence we have confusion already.  When a flute an octave lower than the C Flute was finally constructed, it was christened the Bass Flute entirely skipping over the terms tenor and baritone.  Over the past two decades, flutes even lower than the traditional “Bass” have been constructed and are seeing wider use.  In this volume, I am trying to do my part to rectify this situation.  I am using the terms Tenor, Baritone, Bass, etc. to refer to these instruments in their proper role.  What we generally know as the Bass Flute, now becomes the Tenor Flute.  The new Bass Flute is now the instrument pitched one octave lower (what we generally call the Contrabass Flute).

Traditional Name

Revised Name

Piccolo Piccolo
G Treble G Treble
E-flat Soprano E-flat Soprano
C C
Alto Alto
Bass Tenor
Contra-alto Baritone
Contrabass Bass
Sub-Contra-Alto Sub-Bass
Double Contrabass Contrabass

Many of these flutes are rare and not widely used, but I am including them for the sake of presenting the complete family.  Ten years ago, some of these instruments were represented by only a few individual specimens, but today can be seen more regularly.

For the majority of band writing, the bandestrator need only to familiarize themselves with the Piccolo, C Flute, and perhaps the Alto Flute.  All others are rare visitors.

 Species

D-flat Piccolo

C Piccolo

G Treble

E-flat Soprano

C Flute

B-flat Flute d’Amore

A Flute d’Amore

Alto Flute

Tenor Flute (Bass)

Baritone Flute (Contra-alto/Contr’alto)

Bass Flute (Contrabass)

Sub-Bass Flute (Sub-Contrabass)

Contrabass Flute (Double Contrabass)