Yamaha Piccolo YPC-81.png
Woodwind instrument
Hornbostel–Sachs classification421.121.12-71
(Flute-like aerophone with keys)
Playing range
Written range of piccolo.png

The piccolo sounds one octave higher than written.

Sounding range of piccolo.png
Related instruments

The piccolo[1] / (Italian pronunciation: [ˈpikkolo]; Italian for "small", but named ottavino in Italy)[2] is a half-size flute, and a member of the woodwind family of musical instruments. The modern piccolo has most of the same fingerings as its larger sibling, the standard transverse flute,[3] but the sound it produces is an octave higher than written. This gave rise to the name ottavino (Italian for "little octave"), which the instrument is called in the scores of Italian composers.[4]

Piccolos are now manufactured in the key of C or D.[citation needed] It was for this D piccolo that John Philip Sousa wrote the famous solo in the final repeat of the closing section (trio) of his march "The Stars and Stripes Forever".

In the orchestral setting, the piccolo player is often designated as "piccolo/flute III", or even "assistant principal". The larger orchestras have designated this position as a solo position due to the demands of the literature. Piccolos are often orchestrated to double the violins or the flutes, adding sparkle and brilliance to the overall sound because of the aforementioned one-octave transposition upwards. In concert band settings, the piccolo is almost always used and a piccolo part is almost always available.

Traditional use

A piccolo being played

Historically, the piccolo had no keys, and should not be confused with the fife, which has a smaller bore and is therefore more strident. The piccolo is used in conjunction with marching drums in traditional formations at the Carnival of Basel, Switzerland.

It is a myth that one of the earliest pieces to use the piccolo was Ludwig van Beethoven's Symphony No. 5 in C Minor, premiered in December 1808. Although neither Joseph Haydn nor Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart used it in their symphonies, some of their contemporaries did, including Franz Anton Hoffmeister, Franz Xaver Süssmayr and Michael Haydn.[5] Also, Mozart used the piccolo in his opera Idomeneo. Opera orchestras in Paris sometimes included small transverse flutes at the octave as early as 1735 as existing scores by Jean-Philippe Rameau show.[5]

Although once made of various kinds of wood, glass or ivory, piccolos today are made from a range of materials, including plastic, resin, brass, nickel silver, silver, and a variety of hardwoods, most commonly grenadilla. Finely made piccolos are often available with a variety of options similar to the flute, such as the split-E mechanism. Most piccolos have a conical body with a cylindrical head, which is like the Baroque flute and later flutes before the popularization of the Boehm bore used in modern flutes. Unlike other woodwind instruments, in most wooden piccolos, the tenon joint that connects the head to the body has two interference fit points that surround both the cork and metal side of the piccolo body joint.[citation needed]

Other Languages
Alemannisch: Piccoloflöte
العربية: بيكولو
asturianu: Flautín
català: Flautí
čeština: Pikola
Deutsch: Piccoloflöte
Ελληνικά: Πίκολο
español: Flautín
Esperanto: Fluteto
euskara: Piccolo
Gaeilge: Fliúiteog
Gàidhlig: Fliùiteag
galego: Piccolo
한국어: 피콜로
Հայերեն: Պիկոլո
hrvatski: Pikolo
italiano: Ottavino
עברית: פיקולו
magyar: Piccolo
Nederlands: Piccolo (fluit)
日本語: ピッコロ
norsk nynorsk: Pikkolofløyte
polski: Flet piccolo
português: Flautim
Runa Simi: Pitucha
Scots: Piccolo
Simple English: Piccolo
slovenčina: Pikola
slovenščina: Mala flavta
srpskohrvatski / српскохрватски: Pikolo
suomi: Piccolo
svenska: Piccolaflöjt
Türkçe: Pikolo flüt
українська: Флейта-піколо
Tiếng Việt: Piccolo (sáo)
中文: 短笛
Kabɩyɛ: Piikolo