1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Piccolo

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4775831911 Encyclopædia Britannica, Volume 21 — PiccoloKathleen Schlesinger

PICCOLO (Fr. petite flûte octave; Ger. Pickelflöte; Ital. flauto piccolo or ottavino), a small flute of less than half the dimensions of the large concert flute and pitched an octave higher. The principles of construction and the acoustic properties are the same for the piccolo as for the flute, with the exception that the piccolo does not contain the additional tail-piece with the extra low keys, which give the flute its extended compass. As the pitch of the piccolo is so high, the highest of all orchestral instruments with the exception of a few harmonics on the violin, the music for it is written an octave lower than the real sounds in order to avoid the ledger lines. The piccolo has been used with good effect in imitating the whistling of the wind in storms, as in Beethoven's Pastoral Symphony, Wagner's Flying Dutchman, and in conjunction with the violins in tremolo to depict the rustling of the leaves in the breeze, as in the “Waldweben” in Siegfried. Verdi employed it to advantage in Falstaff as a comic agent in humorous situations. The piccolo is generally in D, sometimes in E♭ or F.  (K. S.)