The piccolo (Italian for small) is a half-size flute, and a member of the woodwind family of musical instruments. The piccolo has the same fingerings as its larger sibling, the standard transverse flute, but the sound it produces is an octave higher than written. This gave rise to the name "ottavino," the name by which the instrument is referred to in the scores of Italian composers.
Now only manufactured in C, piccolos were once made in D , as well. It was for that instrument that John Philip Sousa wrote his famous march, "Stars and Stripes Forever".
In the orchestral setting, the piccolo player is often designated as Piccolo/Flute III or even Assistant Principal. The larger orchestras have designated this position as a Solo position due to the demands of the literature. Piccolos are often orchestrated to double (i.e. to play together with) the violins or the flutes, adding sparkle and brilliance to the overall sound because of the aforementioned one-octave transposition upwards. It is the highest-pitched instrument in an orchestra or band.
Historically, the piccolo had no keys, and should not be confused with the fife, or classical piccolo, which has a smaller bore and is therefore more strident. The piccolo is used in conjunction with marching drums in traditional formations at the Carnival of Basel, Switzerland.
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