This text was copied from Wikipedia on 15 April 2024 at 4:10AM.

Woodwind instrument
Related instruments

The flageolet is a woodwind instrument and a member of the family of duct flutes that includes recorders and tin whistles. Its invention was erroneously[1] ascribed to the 16th-century Sieur Juvigny in 1581.[2] There are two basic forms of the instrument: the French, having four finger holes on the front and two thumb holes on the back; and the English, having six finger holes on the front and sometimes a single thumb hole on the back. The latter was developed by English instrument maker William Bainbridge, resulting in the "improved English flageolet" in 1803.[3] There are also double and triple flageolets, having two or three bodies that allowed for a drone and countermelody. Flageolets were made until the 19th century.[4]


Flageolets have varied greatly during the last 400 years. The first flageolets were called "French flageolets", and have four tone-holes on the front and two on the back. This instrument was played by Hector Berlioz, Frédéric Chalon, Samuel Pepys, and Robert Louis Stevenson. Henry Purcell and George Frideric Handel both wrote pieces for it. An early collection of manuscript Lessons for the Flajolet, dating from about 1676, is preserved in the British Library.[5] Small versions of this instrument, called bird flageolets, were also made and were used for teaching birds to sing. These tiny flageolets have, like the French flageolet, four finger holes on the front and two thumb holes on the back.

Bird flageolet – private collection Elemtilas

The number of keys on French flageolets ranges from none to seven, the exception being the Boehm system French flageolet made by Buffet Crampon which had thirteen keys. The arrangement of the tone holes on the flageolet yields a scale different from that on the whistle or recorder. Whereas the whistle's basic scale is D-E-F#-G-A-B-C#-d, the flageolet's basic scale is D-E-F-G-A-B-C-d. Cross-fingerings and keys are required to fill in the gaps.


Flageolet XIXe – private collection Dominique Enon

In the late 18th and early 19th centuries, certain English instrument makers, most notably William Bainbridge, started to make flageolets with six finger-holes on the front. These instruments are called "English flageolets" and were eventually produced in metal as tin whistles. The keys number between none and six. Some were produced with changeable top joints which allowed the flageolet to be played as a flute or fife.[6]

In 1805 William Bainbridge made a double flageolet out of one piece of wood. In December 1805 his rival Thomas Scott was granted a patent for "an instrument on the flageolette principle, so constructed as a single instrument that two parts of a musical composition can be played thereon at the same time by one person".[7] With the blind organist John Purkis, the Scott & Purkis partnership was formed to manufacture the new instruments, and a tutorial book was published.[8] But Bainbridge continued to improve his model, which gained the most popularity and he was granted a patent in around 1810 for a double flageolet.[9] Bainbridge also produced a triple flageolet which added a third, drone pipe which was fingered in a similar way to an ocarina.


The mouthpiece of the initial French design resembled that of a recorder. A later design placed an elongated windcap around the entrance to the duct and became the standard for the English instrument. The mouthpiece was a flat bit of ivory or bone. The chamber inside the windcap was intended to collect moisture and prevent it from entering the duct, employing differing devices for that purpose.

The stream of air passing through the duct crosses the window and is split by the labium (also lip or edge) giving rise to a musical sound. There body (or bodies, in a double or triple flageolet) contains the finger holes and keys. The windcap is not essential to the sound production and the instrument can be played by blowing directly into the duct as in the initial recorder-type design.

The flageolet was eventually entirely replaced by the tin whistle and is rarely played today.[4] However, it is a very easy instrument to play and the tone is soft and gentle. It has a range of about two octaves.

See also


  1. ^ Head, Jacob. "Biographies of famous Flageolet Players". Retrieved 13 April 2017.
  2. ^ Stanley Sadie (editor). Norton/Grove The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, 1980/1995 ISBN 1-56159-174-2
  3. ^ Head, Jacob. "William Bainbridge". Retrieved 13 April 2017.
  4. ^ a b others, Jacob Head and. "The Pleasant Companion—The Flageolet Site". Retrieved 13 April 2017.
  5. ^ British Library Sloane MS 1145, ff. 35–39.
  6. ^ The Pleasant Companion: The Flageolets Site "The Flageolet Family" Archived 2008-01-16 at the Wayback Machine
  7. ^ British patent No. 2995 (1806)
  8. ^ John Purkis. Scott & Purkis's Delecta Harmonia or Patent Double-Flageolet, a complete Tutor for the above Instrument (London, c. 1806)
  9. ^ Waterhouse, William (1 January 1999). "The Double Flageolet - Made in England". The Galpin Society Journal. 52: 172–182. doi:10.2307/842521. JSTOR 842521.

External links

7 Annotations

First Reading

michael j. gresk m.a.  •  Link

a wind instrument. similar to a recorder or oboe. in 'single' & 'double'
formats. made of wood &/or silver. commonly tuned to key of D

fimm  •  Link

Repost of information collected from various annotations to entries of January - May 1660.

A small wooden pipe, having six or more holes, and a mouthpiece inserted at one end. It produces a shrill sound, softer than of the piccolo flute, and is said to have superseded the old recorder.

Andy Stephenson  •  Link

The Flageolet used by SP is known as the "french flageolet

Grahamt  •  Link

I bought a tin/penny whistle for my son, some years ago...
... and it was referred to as a flageolot throughout all the documentation.

Ruben  •  Link

Waits playing three hautboys and a sackbut, from a drawing in London & Westminster Prints and Drawings Volume II, Pepys Library, Magdalen College, Cambridge.

Bradford  •  Link

Today, 14 April 2005, Sotheby's London is offering for sale (says the TLS for 8 April) "The Pleasant Companion; or, New Lessons and Instructions for the Flagelet," by Thomas Greeting, a friend of Pepys's. Four copies of the 2nd edition, 1673, are held in Stockholm and Washington. The auction copy "of this delightful work, containing pieces by, among others, Matthew Locke and Pelham Humprey, is expected to fetch between L3,000 and L4,000."

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