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Collection Dayton C. Miller Collection

Transverse Flute

Transverse Flute

Until the middle of the nineteenth century, the most frequently used material for flutes, oboes, and clarinets was boxwood stained with nitric acid. This example from late in the second quarter of the century is by Louis Michel François Chabrier de Peloubet, the principal member of a French immigrant family of wind instrument (and later reed organ) makers working in New York and New Jersey. This instrument could best be termed a "band flute," in that it is pitched in a flat key for use in military or community bands playing repertoire written mostly in flat keys. Except for the trombones and usual bass instruments serving bands of the period, nearly every other instrumental part was transposed for instruments built in flat keys to simplify key signatures, fingerings, and tuning. The player using this E-flat flute for music in B-flat major (two flats), for example, would see his part written in G major (one sharp), a very convenient key for flutes of this type. The part might also have been designated "Flute in F," and the player might have considered this E-flat instrument to be in F. It was once a common practice to name flutes one tone above their actual key. See "Flute Misnomers."

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