of a Piccolo Player
Illustrations by Ann-Sofie Verhoyen
Blank faces. Very polite, fixed smiles. But blank.
Oh wow, they say, wow, nice. But…what is a piccolo?
This is a standard response from friends and family when going further than the standard, 'I’m-a-musician' conversation. Suppose it’s better than the 'I’m-a-flute-player' reply (That’s so sweet! I also played the flute at primary school. Now I’m a brain surgeon.).
So what is A Piccolo? It’s a good question.
It looks like a small flute. But it’s not just a small flute. I promise. Give it some credit.
Most piccolos are made of wood - some are metal, but they are the sad minority. Crying in a corner.
Mine is made of Grenadilla but there are all sorts. Cocus, Kingwood, Rosewood, Olive. A tree was harmed in the making of this piccolo. Maybe I should plant one. A tree, I mean.
Most piccolos are conical. Not comical. Actually…sometimes comical. But also conical. So the bore has one end that is bigger than the other. This is supposed to help the intonation. Supposed to.
Most piccolos use the same Boehm fingering system as with the flute. Most have a lowest note at D, but more and more are reaching down into the dizzying depths of a low C.
But all of this doesn’t begin to describe what a piccolo does to people. For the better or worse. That’s a story for another time.