The word “Piccolo” in Italian means “small”, and indeed, the piccolo is the smallest of the flute family! Only half the size of a regular flute, it is the highest instrument of the entire orchestra, bringing brilliance and vibrancy. It is easy to discern its high timbre even when the orchestra plays “tutti”, meaning everyone together at once. There is generally only one piccolo in an orchestra, sitting in the flute section.
Did you know?
Unlike the regular-sized flute, which is generally made of metal, the piccolo is usually made of wood, specifically Grenadilla wood.
In the second excerpt, taken from Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 10, we have the pleasure of hearing a rare solo for two piccolos, where the melodies weave together in the high register, soaring over the deep voices of the cello and bass sections. As for the third excerpt, though extremely short, it is one of the most difficult piccolo solos of all the orchestral repertoire!
L’Enfant et les Sortilèges : Ah ! Quelle joie de te retrouver, jardin !
Symphony No. 10: I. Moderato
Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky
Symphonie No. 4: III. Scherzo
Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 10 is the favourite symphonic work of Caroline Séguin, Piccolo with the Orchestre Métropolitain. Discover what she loves so much about this piece!