THE ALTO FLUTE

Fr., flute en sol; It., flauto contralto; Ger., Altflote
The alto flute is an auxiliary instrument that has not yet become established as a regular orchestral instrument. Many orchestras do not even possess one. It is found in very few scores, but the significance of such works as Daphnis et Chloe and the Sacre da Printemps give the alto flute a certain standing and importance.
With a length of 34% inches, the alto flute is pitched a perfect fourth below the standard flute. It is therefore a transposing instrument, all notes sounding a perfect fourth lower than written. If the fingering for C on the flute is taken, the resultant sound will be G. It is also called the Flute in G, and sometimes called, erroneously, the Bass Flute.
The mechanism of the alto flute is the same as that of the regular flute, except for modifications due to its size. The left hand is placed so that it has to reach no farther to the right than on the regular flute, the holes being controlled bv finger plates and axles. First and third fingers of the right hand are enabled to reach their key covers by means of discs placed at the near edges of the covers.
The range of the flute, up to the high C, is available on the alto flute, but the upper half-octave is lacking in brilliance, and suffers by comparison with the flute at the same pitch. The lower tones, on the other hand, are extremely rich and warm, and stronger than the low notes of the flute. The instrument is responsive even to active double- and triple-tonguing. It requires a little more breath than the regular flute.
In a grouping of four flutes, the alto flute is useful in extending the range downward.
The most individual part of the alto flute's range is, of course, its lower octave. To be heard to the best advantage, it should be lightly accompanied, or, better still, not at all, as in the following example.
In the medium register, the alto flute differs from the flute more subtly, in timbre. The comparison must be experienced by ear to be appreciated.

 
 
     
 
 
 
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