Dolcan English, German
Dolkan (unknown)
Trichterflöte German
Dulcan (unknown)
Dulzaen (unknown)
Dulzain (unknown)
Scharfpfeife German
Tolkaan Dutch
Trichterpfeife German

The pipes of the Dolcan are inverted conical metal, or occasionally inverted pyramidal wood. Only a few flue stops are always made of inverted conical pipes (wider at the top than at the bottom), and the Dolcan is the most common of these. Found at 16', 8' or 4' pitch, its tone resembles that of the Dulciana, but is brighter and more open. According to Williams, the tone of the Dolcan seems to have not changed much over the centuries. Sumner calls it the precursor to the modern Dulciana. Grove dates it from around 1580 in the Netherlands and northern Germany. Audsley, who provides the illustration reproduced here, specifies a 1/5 to 2/9 mouth with a 1/5 to 1/4 cut-up, and gives the following representative scale:

mouth diameter 3.08"1.89"1.15"0.71"0.43"0.27"
top diameter 4.10"2.51"1.54"0.94"0.58"0.35"

While Audsley's scale has a ratio of about 1:1.3 between the mouth and top diameters, Maclean specifies the much larger ratio of 1:2.5, and states that its tone is of insufficient distinction to justify the cost of its construction.

There has been much confusion over the centuries between names such as Dolcan, Dolce, Dulciana, Dulzian, and their synonyms. Bonavia-Hunt claims that the Dolcan, Dolce and Flauto Dolce are one and the same, a soft metal flute introduced to England by Snetzler in 1741 and later popularized by Schulze, whose tone “is precisely that of a fluty dulciana ... a fair imitation of an echo waldflote”. Wedgwood also equates Dolcan with Flauto Dolce, calling it a flute with a “suspicion of stringiness”, and says that it was introduced to England by Schulze.


Dolcan Celeste
Dolcan Mixture
Echo Dolcan


Osiris contains fourteen examples of Dolcan at 8' pitch, five at 4' pitch, and one at 16'; three examples of Dolkan at 8' and four at 2' (all from the late 20th century); and four examples of Trichterflöte at 4' pitch, and one each at 8' and 2' (all from the 20th century). No examples of Dulcan, Dulzaen, Dulzain, Scharfpfeife, Tolkaan or Trichterpfeife are known.

Dolcan 8', Echo; Church of St. Bartholomew, Armley, England; Schulze 1866. This is the oldest known example.

Tolkaan 8', Positief; Dutch Reformed Church, Johannesburg Wes, Gauteng, South Africa; Ganser 1959.

Sound Clips

Would you like to hear what a Dolcan sounds like?

For as little as $10 (US), you can sponsor a page in this Encyclopedia, and help purchase more sound samples!


Adlung[1]: §137 Dolcan, §140 Dulzain. Audsley[1]: Dolcan. Audsley[2]: I.XIII Dolcan; II.XXXVI Dolcan. Bonavia-Hunt[1]: Dolce. Grove[1]: Dolce; Tolkaan. Hopkins & Rimbault[1]: § 390, 400, 585. Irwin[1]: Dolcan. Maclean[1]: Dolcan. Skinner[1]: XII Gamba Celeste. Sumner[1]: Dolcan; Scharfpfeife; Trichterpfeife. Wedgwood[1]: Dolce; Flauto Dolce. Williams[1]: Glossary: Dolcan; Dolce; Tolkaan.
Copyright © 2001 Edward L. Stauff, all rights reserved.
Dolcan.html - Last updated 10 January 2003.
Full Index