These days, more and more flutists are opting for bass, alto, as well as contrabass flutes due to huge popularity of flute choirs. They go for it even to explore expanding repertoire that are written for larger flutes.
While basic written range and fingerings are just the same in every member of flute family, the large diameter of tubing in these flutes require players for making adjustments in the air management, alignment of instrument, and hand position. So now, let us get some basics clear that can help you to play these awesome flutes in the best possible way. However, before that, you must know that there is best alto flute for sale available online that you can grab!
Large flute means more air!
The bass, alto, and contrabass are quite larger as compared to concert flute in terms of length as well as diameter. As a result, they need larger air volumes to play with appropriate support of air column to get projecting and pleasing tone.
Alto flutes are usually pitched in key of G which is perfect fourth below concert flute. The tube diameter and embouchure hole are larger as compared to concert flute and this instrument is around 8 inches longer, so a bit of wide aperture in embouchure is required to offer enough air volume for playing alto flute. On the other hand, contrabass flutes sound around two octaves lower as compared to concert flute. They are around twice as long than bass flute that needs more air and a bit wider aperture.
Finding best air angle and speed
Upper octaves are generally loudest and strongest for concert flute, but they are weakest ones for larger flutes. While it is true that higher notes usually have ethereal and beautiful quality in bass, alto, and contrabass flutes, finding appropriate air angle and speed for air stream for playing these notes needs finesse since they can be easily overblown. If the flute is larger, then it gets much easier to over blow higher notes.
While playing bass, contrabass, or alto flute, then the airspeed that is used must be a bit slower than concert flute especially for the notes in second as well as third octaves. While playing this concert flute, many of the flutists increase airspeed in higher octaves. In case airspeed is fast while playing high note on the larger flutes, then it can result into harmonic rather than of the desired note.
While playing them for first time, it is recommended to warm up and properly know the instrument. You can start gradually with long tones on the notes like A, F, and G in first octave to decide width of the air stream and speed that is needed to generate good tone. Just remember that playing large flutes will need more air as compared to playing concert flute.
Flute is one of the most interesting instruments that can be properly mastered and can be used as stepping stone for the other such instruments. It allows beginners to play amazing sounding songs in quite shorter amount of time.