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The alto flute is a unique amongst the woodwind family for its lower range and distinct mellow tone. Known for its use in works by composers such as Harvey Sollberger, Charles Delaney, and Bruno Bartilozzi, it has become a valuable addition to orchestras over the years. Often described as “somewhat unusual,” this western style concert flute is pitched in the key of G with a range from G3 to G6. The alto flute was first manufactured in England in 1891 and very little has changed about the instrument since its inception. It is generally thicker and longer than a standard C flute, which is what allows it to produce lower sounds and notes. Because of its size it requires more breathe control from its player, which is definitely something to note when making the decision to purchase one. An interesting characteristic of the alto flute is its headjoint shape. While there is a standard option available, there is also a curved version that makes it easier for smaller players. This headjoint allows for less stretching of the arms, making the instrument feel lighter. A straight headjoint, while adding a challenge for players, offers a better overall intonation. In general, if you are a novice player, you will probably want to choose a curved headjoint, whereas if you are a larger or more experienced player, a straight headjoint will work well for you. Some alto flutes, such as the YFL-A421 Professional from Yamaha, come with the option of different headjoints, so you can adjust as you grow with the instrument. The decision on which alto flute to choose is an important one for any musician. There are a variety of different options available to a musician based on skill, size and price point. When you find the one that is right for you, you’re sure to appreciate its sound and tone for years to come.
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