Get Low With This Enormous Flute

- [Narrator] See Paige. See Paige play. Play, Paige, pl-- What the hell is Paige playing? This is an orchestra comprised entirely of flutes. This works because flutes can cover the entire range of an orchestra on their own, from the piccolo at the top (piccolo whistles), all the way to the double contrabass flute down at the bottom (double contrabass flute booms). Very cool. And there's Paige playing, you know, back from the intro. - I'm Paige Long, and I'm a professional flutist. - [Narrator] Wait, flutist or flautist? - I like flutist. - [Narrator] She's one of a handful of people playing the three largest flutes in the flute family: the contrabass flute, the subcontrabass flute, and the double contrabass flute. Let's learn about big flutes. - [Paige] In its case, the double contrabass flute weighs approximately 30 pounds. It stands over eight feet tall, and it's 22 feet of tubing. The subcontrabass flute in G has 11 feet of tubing, and the contrabass in C has 9 feet of tubing. - [Narrator] So, how does one play an instrument with 22 feet of tubing? - [Paige] For these lower flutes, it's a whole different technique. Your embouchure is looser-- - [Narrator] New word! Embouchure. Em-bou-chure. Embouchure. - [Paige] Embouchure is the way you shape your mouth to make a sound on the flute. Your mouth is looser, bigger, takes a lot more air, and a lot more support. I feel like I've run a 10k when I'm done with a concert. - [Narrator] 'Cause it's hard to get a clean, low sound? - [Paige] They actually play the lowest possible notes of an orchestral instrument. - [Narrator] Say, lowest of any orchestral instrument? Now what does that mean? Hey, guys, can you help us out here? - [Man] Well, alright. Ready, boys? ♪ The double contrabass flute goes low ♪ ♪ Lower than any instrument can go ♪ ♪ Lower than the string bass, that big old guy ♪ ♪ He makes that bass line fly ♪ - [Narrator] And what's next? - [Man] It's the subcontrabass flute! Hit it! ♪ Another big flute sounds like a bassoon ♪ ♪ The subcontrabass can carry a tune ♪ ♪ The contrabass flute is the smallest fellow ♪ ♪ It sounds just like a cello ♪ - [Narrator] Wow, thanks! Now I understand. So Paige, what do you like about these giant flutes? - [Paige] In the land of flutes, they're like the subculture of the flute community. And we provide a role that the concert flute cannot. - [Narrator] It all checks out. Paige, play us out. (flute trio plays)

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