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Neither big band nor pit work is relevant to the alto flute...
That seems rude and dismissive. If that is your experience, fine, but it is not mine, as I have cited in this thread.
 

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OK, I agree that one can find big band charts and musical theatre books that include the alto flute. In both cases you're going to have to mike the heck out of it to be heard, and it's generally going to be used for a rare special tone color. In my mind the fact that alto flute is rarely used in those two contexts and you have to work at it to make it work, means that's not its best application. I mean, you can find bassoon, accordion, and 5 string banjo parts in those contexts if you look hard enough, but neither big band nor musical theatre is really the best place to look for repertoire for those instruments either.

Maybe I shouldn't have phrased in the way I did, I didn't mean to be rude or dismissive. But given the number of times I've encountered possible uses for alto flute in big band, I sure wouldn't shed it and get command of it based on that. I suspect the pit orchestra is similar.

I think where the alto flute can give great service is:

- Flute groups
- A bit of chamber music
- Small group jazz especially of quieter styles like bossa nova

In my mind those are the natural habitats of the alto flute (there are probably some others). Just like rock and roll is the natural habitat of the Fender Stratocaster played through a Marshall stack. Sure, you can play Bach violin partitas on that instrumentation if you want to, but it's not really what it's suited for.
 

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Alto in the Vegas pits with a BarcusBerry or etc etc in the head.... been advised that that’s common.
 

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somehow got the impression that alto flute was known as the "jazz flute", though i'm not familiar with much jazz recording besides Pharoah Sanders and Joe Henderson on Blue Nile for Alice Coltrane. most memorable for the breaks in You Got to Hide Your Love Away and California Dreaming. but i got to echo the Doc's fondness for it. very beautiful, especially in the low end. makes me want to explore bass flute, though i'm not sure what i can grab except maybe a Jupiter.
 

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If you decide to play the flute (or any other woodwind) please take lessons from a qualified player/teacher. You’ll avoid developing bad habits/ incorrect tone production problems. You’ll play better faster and avoid pissing off other musicians who will have to contend with your deficiencies.
 

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.... very beautiful, especially in the low end. makes me want to explore bass flute, though i'm not sure what i can grab except maybe a Jupiter.
1. You only get a few notes out of each breath.
2. It is very soft.
 

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Weird question, which is my favorite kind, I had a dream last night that I found an alto flute in a pawn shop and bought it. Now I am wondering if I should learn to double on it. I play saxophones exclusively, but realize doubling can lead to more opportunities... is flute something I can realistically move to fairly easily? I know this is a tough question to answer without knowing me personally, but your experiences would be appreciated.

Thanks
Piece of cake, Buddy! I know that when I dream I can play most any instrument there is. I can also fly and once I even kicked the snot out of a raging pit-bull. But seriously, I think you should go for it without apprehension. Nothing is easy at first, like the saxophone you need to put the time in. I picked up a used flute last year and I love trying out tunes that I always associated with the great flute players like Hubert Laws, Herbie Mann, Rahsaan Roland Kirk. I got a long way to go but hey, I got time on my hands and it keeps me off the streets.... :)
 

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1. You only get a few notes out of each breath.
2. It is very soft.
yeah, i briefly tried one out when i bought my alto at Chuck Levin's in DC. hyperventilating real quick. and a quick look on the net suggests they tend to be pretty dang expensive. but if i had one lying around, i'd surely mic it up and listen to how it sets in a mix.
 

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One caveat on alto flute. Unless you have a curved head, you will be extending your arms while supporting the instrument. Tennis elbow, back and neck problems can result. The C flute is not as heavy and your arms are not extended as far. I solved my elbow problem by replacing 5he straight head with a curved.

I’ve used alto in a chamber jazz trio and a couple of shows, Annie has two exposed solos on alto flute....I “need” it maybe once a year. Alto flute is normally required in flute choirs...I’ve never been called to play a payingflute choir gigs. Anyone else?
 

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One caveat on alto flute. Unless you have a curved head, you will be extending your arms while supporting the instrument. Tennis elbow, back and neck problems can result. The C flute is not as heavy and your arms are not extended as far. I solved my elbow problem by replacing 5he straight head with a curved.
that's a drag. i like the intonation on the straight head, and have been playing the alto right regular for 10 years. but i did get tennis elbow after taking a liking to a 90" Dunlop, before switching back to a 97" Head. (now, when i see a regular C flute, i always misappropriate the old Crocodile Dundee line. "You call that a flute? THAT's a flute.")
 

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yeah, i briefly tried one out when i bought my alto at Chuck Levin's in DC. hyperventilating real quick. and a quick look on the net suggests they tend to be pretty dang expensive. but if i had one lying around, i'd surely mic it up and listen to how it sets in a mix.
i find that I can play most phrases that a standard concert flute can play in one breath unless it's all low notes.
 

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i find that I can play most phrases that a standard concert flute can play in one breath unless it's all low notes.
FWIW, that response was regarding bass flute. I, too, can play long phrases on alto flute, but never reached a similar ability on any of the bass flutes that I owned.
 

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FWIW, that response was regarding bass flute. I, too, can play long phrases on alto flute, but never reached a similar ability on any of the bass flutes that I owned.
That's correct, I meant bass.
When I tried contra and below it wasn't like that.
My bass is leaking all over and not playable right now.
Hope to take it in next week.
 

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I have only the straight head for my alto flute and never had problems (yet...). For me the straight head felt and sounded much better. And I don't feel like running out of breath on alto or bass flute. But I practiced and played for years a lot on low flutes. I had the same impression (running out of breath) when I started on bass clarinet and it got better with time.
 

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1. You only get a few notes out of each breath.
2. It is very soft.
I have been exclusively playing alto flute for a few years after playing concert flute. Once you get accustomed to breathing deeper I don't find that it is difficult to play long phrases, high notes, low notes or get a good volume - I think it is louder than concert flute. Posture and embouchure are important. I use curved head joint
 

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Sort of off topic - I’ve been watching Peter Gunn episodes on Amazon Prime. Lots of jazzy alto flute sounds in the intro and sometimes as background to the stories.
 

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Sort of off topic - I've been watching Peter Gunn episodes on Amazon Prime. Lots of jazzy alto flute sounds in the intro and sometimes as background to the stories.
Henry Mancini and his contemporaries were big fans of the alto flute - used much as you describe here. It appears fairly frequently in many contemporary soundtracks, but frequently blended with other instruments for coloring. Fluttertongue alto flutes with low violin or viola trem is a nice color.
 
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