German Flute English

This name has been used for stops of a number of different constructions. Irwin lists it with the following description:

An open metal Flute of 8' or 4' on the manuals, with a bright, ringing, harmonically full timbre that is not at all stringy or horn-like. Its pipes are usually formed from spotted metal and are both harmonic and conical. The harmonic form adds some resonance to the lower-pitched harmonics, and the conical shape removes the higher harmonics and brings out the stronger odd-numbered components, making the tone a little more pervading and expansive than it would otherwise be. If well-proportioned, the tone is an ideal solo as well as ensemble Flute, resembling the Orchestral Flute.

Wedgwood lists German Flute as a synonym for Flauto Traverso, but says:

Müller of Breslau, again, introduced a variety of Flute in which the wind was carried by a channel or long cap (as in the French Flûte Traversière) to a mouth cut halfway up the pipe. The author once saw an old stop of this form at Mr. Binns' factory. The mouths of these ancient examples of the Flauto Traverso were generally inverted, often consisting of a round orifice into which the wind was thrown by a sloping cap, fixed sometimes half-way over, sometimes just under. This type of Flute, generally known as Vienna Flute, and, of course, not harmonic, is still occasionally employed by English builders - usually on the Choir organ - for the sake of variety (e.g., by Conacher at Castlerock, Ireland). It exactly describes many of Bishop's “German Flutes”, though other examples of the latter were fashioned like Flutes with parabola-shaped heads.
Bishop's German Flute, though made in a variety of ways, was sometimes (e.g., St. Mary, Nottingham) of cylindrical bore inside, like the metallic Flute. The German Flute was not always truly cylindrical in form. It was sometimes made of two pieces of wood, grooved out, and then jointed up. The mouth was inverted, and the cap fixed slantwise.
The harmonic stopped principle of structure is no new invention. It is not unknown in the case of certain Flutes in old German organs, and in 1754, Snetzler introduced such a stop, named German Flute, into his organ at King's Lynn. Messrs. Norman & Beard, who for some time had this instrument under their care, reproduced the variety of stop, under the name of Harmonic Gedackt 4 ft., at St. Catherine's College, Cambridge (CC note 2 1/4 in. diameter). Snetzler's original stop is of 8 ft. tone. From mid. C upwards the pipes are of his favourite Chimney Flute form [shown in the illustration reproduced here], though, of course, of harmonic construction. The mouths are arched and provided with long ears for tuning purposes. At mid. C the scale is 1 3/4 in. diameter. Below this the stop is composed of ordinary Stopped Diapason pipes.
Compare with Silver Flute.


None known. Contributions welcome.


Bonavia-Hunt[1]: Zauberflöte. Irwin[1]: German Flute. Maclean[1]: Flûte Allemande. Wedgwood[1]: Flauto Traverso; German Flute; Metallic, Stopped; Zauberflöte.
Copyright © 2000 Edward L. Stauff, all rights reserved.
GermanFlute.html - Last updated 1 November 2001.
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