Soprano flute

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Soprano flute
Woodwind instrument
Other names Third flute, tierce flute; fr: flûte à tierce; de: Terzflöte[1]
Classification Woodwind (Aerophone)
Hornbostel–Sachs classification 421.121.12
(open side-blown flute with fingerholes)
Playing range
written range similar to the Western concert flute, but sounding a minor third higher
Related instruments
Flute, alto flute, bass flute, piccolo

The soprano flute (also called a third flute or tierce flute) is a type of flute, a musical instrument in the woodwind family. It is pitched in E, a minor third above the concert flute, and is the only member of the modern flute family that is not pitched in C or G. The pitch was set at a time such flutes substituted for the E-flat clarinet, but the instrument is now rare.[2]

In orchestral literature, the soprano flute appears in such standard works as Mozart's Die Entführung aus dem Serail, Beethoven's Symphony No. 9, and Tchaikovsky's Nutcracker Suite.[1] However, the instrument is rarely available now. A few American publications for flute choir currently include a part for E (soprano) flute. In these publications, an alternative part is provided either for the C flute or for the piccolo. With the substitution of one of these more commonly found instruments, however, the distinctive colour of a treble flute sound is missing.


  1. ^ a b January 4. "Flute I. 3. ii. Third flute". In Macy, Laura. Grove Music Online. Oxford Music Online. Oxford University Press.  (subscription required)
  2. ^ Retrieved 12-09-15.  Check date values in: |access-date= (help); Missing or empty |title= (help)