The piccolo is the smallest member of the flute family. It's about 33 cm. long, about half the size of the concert flute. The piccolo has two pieces, the head and the body. Concert piccolos are usually made of grenadilla wood, but they can also be constructed of metal or resin for use outdoors and for marching. The piccolo plays an octave higher than the concert flute. Piccolos are common in orchestras and wind bands.
Soprano Concert Flute
The concert flute is the most common flute. It is 67 cm. long, and made up of three pieces; the foot joint, middle joint (the body), and the head joint. Concert flutes are usually made of silver, but also come in gold, wood or platinum. The standard concert flute is pitched in C and has a range of three octaves starting from middle C, or one half step lower when a B foot is attached. This means that the concert flute is one of the highest voiced of the common orchestra and band instruments. They are also commonly used in pop and commercial music as well as smaller chamber ensembles and flute choirs.
The alto flute is larger than the concert flute (86 cm.), therefore it is lower in pitch. It is tuned to the key of G. The alto flute has a distinct, mellow sound. However, because of its lower range it is difficult to hear in a large ensemble and is rarely used in concert orchestras and bands. It is more often employed in jazz groups, small ensembles like flute choir, and in commercial and other recorded music. It is a transposing instrument. This means that the notes sound a fourth lower than the notes written on the page. Some models have a curved head joint so that players can more comfortably reach all the keys.
The bass flute is in the key of C, pitched one octave below the concert flute. The bass flute is so big that they have to have a curved head joint so that the players can reach the keys. Like the alto flute, it has a low mellow sound and is used primarily in commercial music and small wind ensembles like flute choir.
This flute is in the key of G, an octave lower than the alto flute.
The contrabass flute is in the key of C, and has a pitch of two octaves lower than the concert flute. This flute is about nine feet tall.
One of the largest members of the flute family, it measures over 15 feet long.