Flûte Conique French
Flûte à Fuseau French
Flûte à Pointe French
Spire Flute English
Spireflöte German
Spitsfluit (unknown)
Spitzflöte German
Conus Latin
Coni Latin
Cuspida (unknown)
Kegel German?
Flauta Cuspida (unknown)
Flauto Cuspido (unknown)
Tibia Cuspida Latin
Flûte à Fusée French
Flûte en Fusée French
Flûte Pointue French
Iula German?
Jula German
Spitzfleut (unknown)
Spitzpfeife German

These names, of which Spitzflöte is by far the most common, denote an open flute stop whose pipes are conical in form, as shown by Audsley's illustration reproduced here. All of the names describe or suggest the pipe form, except for Iula and Jula, which have alternate meanings. The name Spitsfluit does not appear in the literature; we assume it to be a synonym. While this pipe form is a common one, dating back to the late 15th century (according to Grove), it is not always clearly evidenced by the name on the stop control.

The amount of taper has varied considerably, with the top diameter being as much as 3/4 or as little as 1/5 the diameter at the mouth. According to some sources, the English have typically used a gentler taper than the Germans. The pipes are usually tuned by means of large ears. The stop is nearly always made of metal, though pyramidal wood pipes have sometimes been made, usually for the 8' octave.

Tonally, the Spitzflöte is usually classified as a Flute/String hybrid, and occasionally as a Flute/Diapason hybrid. Its tone has been described as reedy or breathy, and blends very well. It has been made at every pitch from 16' to 1', including mutations; indeed, tapered pipes are frequently used for mutations because of the excellent blending quality that can be obtained. The most common pitch for the Spitzflöte is 4', with 8' being only slightly less common.

This stop has much in common with the Gemshorn, so much so that it is sometimes difficult to distinguish between their pipes or even their tone. Most sources, though not all, give the Spitzflöte a sharper, more pointed taper than the Gemshorn. The Gemshorn is often slotted, whereas Audsley warns that the Spitzflöte must never be slotted. The Spitzflöte typically tends more toward flute-tone than the Gemshorn.

While the name Flûte Conique is often used for this stop, it was originally used for a completely different stop.

It is not clear how this stop differs from the Conical Flute.


Flûte à Fuseau
Grosse Spitzflöte
  Spitzflöte Céleste
Spitz Nazard


Osiris contains examples with the following distribution:

Name16'8'4'2'other pitches
Spitzflöt[e] 7 143 241 20 3 @ 1'; 1 @ 1-1/3'
Flûte à Fuseau 6 46 4
Spire Flute 4 20 22
Spitsfluit 4 12 1 4 @ 3'
Flûte à Pointe 2 1
Spitzpfeife 2
Spitzfleut[e] 2
Spireflöte 1

No examples are known of Conus, Coni, Cuspida, Flauta Cuspida, Flauto Cuspido, Flûte à/en Fusée, Kegel, or Tibia Cuspida.

Flute a fuseau 8', Main Swell; Washington National Cathedral, Washington D.C., USA; Skinner 1939.

Flute a Point 8', Great; K K Beth Elohim Synagogue, Charleston, South Carolina, USA; Ontko 1995.

Spitzpfeife 4', Manual I; St. Laurentius-Kirche, Langwarden, Germany; Kroger? 1650.

Spitzpfeife 4', Hauptwerk; Metropolitan Art Space, Tokyo, Japan; Garnier 1991.

Flute Pointue 4', Swell; St. Giles Cathedral, Edinburgh, Scotland; Rieger 1992. This is the only known example of this name.

Spitsfluit [4'?], Rugpositief; Noordbroek, Netherlands; Schnitger 1695. This is the earliest known example of this name.

Spitzfleut 8', HM; Kristine Church, Falun, Sweden; Cahman 1724.

Spitzfleute 8', Oberwerk; Patronatskirche, Basedow, Germany; Herbst 1683.

Sound Clips

See the Sound Files appendix for general information.

Spiz Fleute 4', Hauptwerk Reinhardtsgrimma, Sachsen, Germany Silbermann, 1731 arpeggio St. Anne
Spitzfloete 4', Great First Baptist Church, Riverside, California, USA Schantz, 1966 arpeggio St. Anne
Spitzflöte 4', Manual II University of Illinois, USA Buzard, 1986 arpeggio St. Anne


Adlung[1]: §125 Conus, §133 Cuspida, §161 Jula, §178 Querflöte, §179 Quinta, §195 Spitzflöte. Audsley[1]: Flute Pointue; Spitzflöte. Audsley[2]: I.XIII Flute Pointue; Spitzflöte; II.XXXVI Spitzflöte. Bonavia-Hunt[1]: Gemshorn. Grove[1]: Flauto; Spitzflöte. Hopkins & Rimbault[1]: § 387, 602. Irwin[1]: Spitzflote. Locher[1]: Spitzflöte. Maclean[1]: Flûte Conique, Spitzflöte. Skinner[1]: XII Spitzflöte. Sumner[1]: Spitzflöte. Wedgwood[1]: Conus; Flauta Cuspida; Spitzflöte. Williams[1]: Glossary: Spitzflöte; Tibia; Flauto.
Copyright © 2003 Edward L. Stauff, all rights reserved.
Spitzflote.html - Last updated 13 February 2009.
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