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The Piccolo and Its Differences From the Flute

The Piccolo is a half-sized flute, being the tiniest instrument in the woodwind section of a band. Comparable to the size of some 6-hole flutes.

It plays the highest notes of the woodwind family, playing an octave higher than those of the concert flute.

It has 3 distinctive tones in the register.

The low register is soft and also mellifluous. In the middle register, it comes to be instead sprightly, perky, rather pretty. And then in the high register, it can become extremely strident as well as really can cut through the sound of a whole band playing at full blast which kind of edge to the audio.

It’s an orchestral instrument, more than a solo instrument. There are some solo works composed for the piccolo, but you can think of this instrument as a complement for an orchestra and limited to some works and performances.

What Are the Main Differences Between the Flute and the Piccolo?

Well, the clearest difference is their dimension. Piccolo is much smaller sized. It is also lighter than the flute.

Although it’s in the flute family, it is half of their size and quite different from the flute in terms of construction, because the flute has a cylindrical body and a cone-shaped head which tapers, while the piccolo is the opposite way, the head is round and the body tapers and therefore coming down to a thin factor.

Piccolo side view
A piccolo viewing from a side

Whereas the flute is made out of silver or silver layers, these days a piccolo is frequently constructed from various hardwoods, namely grenadilla, but you can also encounter piccolos made of resin, brass, plastic, and silver.

Piccolo is a little bit more difficult to learn and play due to the fact the hole is a lot smaller. In theory, it is also slightly more difficult in terms of tuning since you frequently sit at the top of the chord, where it is easier to get the blame for being out of tune in a performance.

In terms of how they both sound, the very high and also extremely loud notes of a piccolo might not be the exact sound you desire the first thing in the morning. The shape is the same, yet we need a somewhat smaller hole or airstream to play the piccolo. Consequently, you can obtain a nice, clear sound since there’s such a little window, around the dimension of a pea.

LSO Master Class - Flute and Piccolo
A London Symphony Orchestra player, showing how the flute and then the piccolo sound

Regarding playing and techniques, generally, you use a lot of additional uncommon fingerings on the piccolo than you do on the flute. It would be solitary timing with me just claiming ta to after that double-time it will certainly be.

In an orchestra, flute players need to be prepared to sit for long periods while maintaining their focus and waiting for their time to play.

That concentration might be a unique skill in an orchestra, as not many other instruments tend to participate so little in some type of music works, and then when they participate it’s with the characteristic piccolo high notes sound. That scenario can be quite intimidating for someone starting in an orchestra for the first time.

A flute and a piccolo side by side
A piccolo and a flute side by side

The Transition from the Flute to the Piccolo

For learning to play the piccolo, you have to start with the flute, because that’s the way most players are instructed in their first years. You need to become a good flute player, firstly, since it will instruct you on all the standard concepts and theories of such a family of instruments.

By playing the flute first, you can obtain the fundamentals. After that, you will have the chance to experience the piccolo.

You might require to have an excellent pitch because you’re so usually stuck at the top of the chord, as well as if your pitch is wayward, then that actually can be very hard. There are similar abilities to those of a flute player. This is something also true when comparing a recorder and flute.

A girl playing the piccolo

We’ve identified that the piccolo is a bit more difficult to play than the flute, but that shouldn’t avoid you from trying it if you already are experienced with playing the flute.

If you are willing to do the transition to the piccolo, check here what to consider before buying your first piccolo. Or if in the process you need to sell a used flute, we’ve also detailed a specific guide for that.

Main Differences Between the Flute and the Piccolo?

Piccolo is much smaller and also lighter than the flute. It is also harder to learn and plays extremely higher and loud notes.

Piccolo vs flute