Page:A Dictionary of Music and Musicians vol 2.djvu/762

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PICCOLO.
PICCINNI.

Giuseppe, is known only through his natural son, Louis Alexandre, born at Paris Sept. 10, 1779, a composer of more than 200 pieces for the stage, as well as of 25 comic operas, of which a list is given by Fétis.

[ F. A. M. ]

PICCO, an Italian peasant (advertised as 'the Sardinian minstrel') who appeared in London in 1856—first at Covent Garden, Feb. 21, and afterwards very often during the season—and performed with immense execution and 'astonishing facility, to say nothing of delicacy, taste, and feeling,' upon a 'tibia,' or whistle, as described in the following article. He was then 25 years ef age, and of very prepossessing appearance, and had been blind from his birth. His tone is described as 'between that of a flageolet and a flauto piccolo; at times somewhat shrill, at others as soft and suave as possible.' Like Gusikow, he was evidently a born genius, and we regret that we can obtain no information as to what happened to him before or after his appearance here.

[ G. ]

PICCO PIPE. A small and unimportant member of the family of flûtes à bec. It owes whatever musical significance it may possess to the efforts of the single exceptional player named in the preceding article. It is stated that this performer was able to produce from it a compass of three octaves. The only other importance which it displays is due to its extreme simplicity. Perhaps no wind instrument ever constructed exhibits such limited mechanism. It consists, as usually made, of a box-wood tube 3½ inches long. Of this, 1½ inches are occupied by a mouthpiece, common to it and to the penny whistle, the flageolet, the flûte à bec, and the diapason pipe of the organ. The remaining two inches form all the modulative apparatus required. This consists of three lateral holes; two in front, one at the back, for the thumb and two first fingers of either hand, and an expanded bell, spreading to of an inch in diameter. It is obvious that some additional device is necessary to complete even the simplest and most rudimentary diatonic scale. This is furnished by first using it as a stopped pipe; the bell being blocked, wholly or partially, by the palm of the hand, twelve semitones being so produced; then as an open pipe, giving eight consecutive notes; and lastly, by overblowing on the first harmonic of a stopped pipe (the 12th), obtaining again with a stopped bell six more semitones. Besides these, some intermediate sounds are indicated by half stopping holes, or by forcing the wind, according as the vibrations have to be slackened or accelerated.

The compass is usually 26 semitones, and is made to commence with B below the treble stave; rising to C above it (1). The lowest note is only to be obtained by covering the bell with the palm of the hand and closing all the holes. At B (2) the open scale commences, and at G (3) the harmonic.

{ \override Score.TimeSignature #'stencil = ##f \cadenzaOn b4^"(1)" c''' \bar "||" b'^"(2)" \bar "||" g''^"(3)" \bar "||" }

It is obvious that this notation is at best only approximative, and at least an octave lower than the real sounds emitted. Probably C is the fundamental note of the instrument, depressed somewhat by the irregular form of the sounding tube. It is just possible that this primitive contrivance may throw light on some of the three and four-holed flutes of antiquity. [See Flute.]

[ W. H. S. ]

PICCOLO (i.e. Italian for 'little'), an abbreviation for Flauto Piccolo, usually applied to the Octave Flute, otherwise called Ottavino, from its tonal relation to the larger instruments, of which it occupies the superior octave. Small flutes and fifes have been made in many keys; those now most commonly in use are the D and E♭ piccolos. The former name is correct; it being the super-octave of the ordinary flute, which has been shown to stand in the key of D. The D piccolo, however, is not furnished with the adventitious keys of C, B♮ (and sometimes B♭), which give the flute three or four semitones below its natural keynote. The so-called E♭ piccolo is really in D♭, as can be easily demonstrated by attempting to play on it music written for the E♭ clarinet, which actually stands in the key named; when it will be found to differ by a whole tone. The French scorers very properly term it 'Petite flute en Ré♭.' Its use is now entirely limited to military bands, which habitually play in flat keys. The peculiar tonality thus adopted expunges five flats from the signature; enabling the instrument to avoid many mechanical difficulties, and to range around the lower sharp and flat keys from D to E♭, in which its intonation is most correct.

Its compass is from D or D♭ within the treble stave to at least A in altissimo (2 octaves and 5 notes), or even higher in the hands of a good player. It is customary to write for it an octave lower than the sound really produced.

It is, with the exception of the higher harmonic notes of the violin, by far the most acute instrument used in orchestral music; its sounds being much more powerful and piercing than the corresponding notes developed by a string. On the other hand, its lowest octave is feeble and devoid of character.

The piccolo appears to have been a favourite with composers, and especially with Berlioz; whose account of its musical value is so exhaustive as to render others unnecessary. He points out its use by Gluck; by Beethoven in the Storm of the Pastoral Symphony, to reproduce the whistling of the wind; by Weber in the drinking song of Der Freischütz, and by others; though he omits Handel's wonderful accompaniment to the bass song, 'Oh ruddier than the cherry' in 'Acis and Galatea,' where the essentially pastoral quality of the little instrument is admirably developed. He advocates, very justly, the orchestral use of the so-called E♭ piccolo, sounding the minor ninth above the violins, which in the key of E♭ would be playing in its best key, that of D major. Berlioz's remarks upon the Tierce flute, giving E♭ for C, and usually called the flute in F, and on the tenth