Microtones on Wind Instruments


Other Music Resources on the Internet

Tips for Using 'The Virtual Flute' University of South Wales

Easing Into Extended Technique by composer/flutist Linda L. Holland, Ph.D "Selected excerpts from Volume 1, Microtones

The Microtonal Bassoon by Johnny Reinhard

The Bassoon Family Fingering Companion by Terry B. Ewell

The following is the standard overview of how notes are achieved on wind instruments by overblowing. Because these notes are overtones, a case can be made for their use in microtonal composition.

Modern instrument building attempts to bring these overtones in line with twelve tone equal temperament by changing the bore and adding keys, valves and pistons, so few of these overtones are where they would naturally sound. But they do offer an insight into the microtonal nature of tonal music of the past and are edifying for the modern composer.


"C" Overtone Series



Piccolo (Sounding)


Alto Flute (Sounding)


Oboe d'Amore (Sounding)

English Horn


Written Clarinets

Eb Clarinet (Sounding)

Bb Clarinet (Sounding)

A Clarinet (Sounding)


Contrabassoon (Sounding)



The degree to which a player can correct intonation by lipping a faulty note into tune decreases as the vibrating air columns become longer and greater quantities of air are used. . . .

Aside from problems with the harmonic series itself (which should be minimal in a well-designed instrument), errors occur when the valves are used in combination. [Scott Whitener, A Complete Guide to Brass, Schirmer Books, New York, 1997,p87]

French Horns (Written)

French Horns (Sounding)

Natural Horns (Written)

Natural Horns (Sounding)

Bb Piccolo Trumpet (Sounding)

A Piccolo Trumpet (Sounding)

G Trumpet (Sounding)

Theoretical Pitch of G Valve Trumpet (sounding)

F Trumpet (Sounding)

Theoretical Pitch of F Valve Trumpet (sounding)

E Trumpet (Sounding)

Theoretical Pitch of E Valve Trumpet (sounding)

Eb Trumpet (Sounding)

Theoretical Pitch of Eb Valve Trumpet (sounding)

D Trumpet (Sounding)

Theoretical Pitch of D Valve Trumpet (sounding)

All Trumpets Written and C Trumpet (Sounding)

A Particular Trumpet (John Backus)

Bb Trumpet and Flugelhorn (Sounding)

Theoretical Pitch of Bb Valve Trumpet (sounding)

C Bass Trumpet (Sounding)

Bb Bass Trumpet (Sounding)

Natural Trumpets (Sounding)

Tenor Trombone

Bb Tenor Trombone with F Attachment

F Tuba

Eb Tuba

CC Tuba

BBb Tuba

Intonation of the Valve Trumpet by Joseph L. Monzo

Joseph L. Monzo's Valve Trumpet

May 18, 2003