The piccolo is half the size of the flute and is pitched an octave higher. The Boehm mechanical keys were added much later than to the flute. As with the flute the sound is made by the player blowing across the opening, causing the column of air within the instrument to vibrate.

The piccolo achieved prominence in the late 18th century and, although it was Beethoven who first included it in major orchestral works - the Fifth and Sixth Symphonies - Tchaikovsky was the composer who provided it with its most splendid orchestral passages.

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