Piccolo Italian
Flauto Piccolo Italian
Zwergpfeife German

When used properly, the names Piccolo and Flauto Piccolo denote an open flute stop of 2' or, less commonly, 1' pitch. Its tone is more or less suggestive of the orchestral instrument of the same name; when intended to be truly imitative, it may be called Orchestral Piccolo, and some authorities consider the names to be synonymous. It may be of harmonic construction, even when not explicitly named Harmonic Piccolo. The name is occasionally, and incorrectly, used for a stopped rank. Maclean considered it identical to the Flageolet, Flautina, Hellpfeife, and Octavin. Grove dates it from the 19th century, though one example apparently dates from 1660 (see below).

On theatre organs, according to Strony, the name Piccolo is used very inconsistently, and may be drawn from either a Tibia Clausa or a Flute rank.

The name Zwergpfeife is mentioned only by Wedgwood, who says only “see Piccolo”. The word zwerg is German for “dwarf”.


Harmonic Piccolo
Piccolo d'Amore


Osiris contains about 250 examples of Piccolo, three quarters of which are at 2' pitch. The rest are at 1', except for five at 4' pitch (none of which are in pedal divisions, as might be expected). No examples are known of Flauto Piccolo or Zwergpfeife. Contributions welcome..

Piccolo 1'; portative organ; Boskapel, Impde (?), Belgium; c1660. This is by far the earliest known example of the name.

Sound Clips

See the Sound Files appendix for general information.

Piccolo 2', Swell St. Anne's Church, Moseley, Birmingham, England Brindley & Foster, 1907 arpeggio


Adlung[1]: §145 Flauto Piccolo. Audsley[1]: Piccolo. Audsley[2]: I.XIII Piccolo. Bonavia-Hunt[1]: Piccolo. Grove[1]: Piccolo. Hopkins & Rimbault[1]: § 615. Irwin[1]: Piccolo. Locher[1]: Flauto Piccolo. Maclean[1]: Piccolo. Skinner[1]: XII Piccolo. Strony[1]: Piccolo. Sumner[1]: Piccolo. Wedgwood[1]: Piccolo; Zwergpfeife.
Copyright © 2006 Edward L. Stauff, all rights reserved.
Piccolo.html - Last updated 3 October 2006.
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