Happy Tundra Tuesday from Central Indiana! This week I wanted to highlight a member of the flute family that does not usually get a lot of attention: the flute d’amore. Although practical in a jazz setting, the beautiful tone of this flute makes it worth a closer look in the concert setting as well.
The Flute d’amore is pitched in either A or B♭ and is between the size of the modern C concert flute and the alto flute in G. However, unlike the alto flute, the ratio between the bore diameter and tube length is much more similar to the same as in the concert flute, in contrast to the alto flute, which has a wider bore in relation to its tube length. This allows the flute d’amore to have a more mellow tone color without losing the quality of sound in the upper octaves. In general, it has a softer sound than a standard flute. When used in jazz, the B♭ version is usually implemented to complement the tenor saxophone and clarinet, as both are in B♭.
The Flauto d’Amore was originally made in the Baroque era (c.1700) when wind instruments began to gain more importance. It was considered to be the most important flute among the concert and fourth flute and the basso traverso. It seems that Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750) used the Flauto d’Amore for its evocative quality as well as for tonal convenience. Bach used the instrument in Cantatas and it is possible that some of his flute sonatas which are played on concert flute were in fact intended for Flauto d’Amore. The dark mysterious quality has always been evident in the Flauto d’Amore. It was the quality of the sound that attracted recitalists and composers to use the instrument to play more melancholy and emotional solos. Players in opera pits also used the instrument for the sound. During the course of an opera they would change to a Flauto d’Amore for particularly poignant solos or aria accompaniments.Until recently, it has been thought of as obsolete, with very little repertoire written for it. However, the instrument has gained some traction recently, and Sankyo and Altus both currently manufacture a flute d’amore, with modern intonation, scale, and mechanisms.
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