The Pleasant Companion is dedicated to the family of instruments known as “flageolets”. Popular in Europe and America from the late 16th until the early 20th centuries, particularly amongst amateur musicians, flageolets are interesting instruments which deserve greater interest than they current receive.
An occasional pleasure, when buying old music for the flageolet is finding a note or other piece of emphemera which has survived the passage of a hundred years or more.
Last Summer, I purchased a copy of John Simpson’s “Complete Preceptor for the Improved Patent Single and Double Flageolet”. Inside were three additional pieces of manuscript. One was clearly 20th Century and was simply a copy of some ofthe pieces with fingerings added. However, the other two were written in what appeared to be a 19th Century hand and contained short, anonymous pieces, for the double flageolet which I had not seen before.
The first, “The Bullfinch” is a rather attractive Waltz with an A section written for a single pipe and a B section for both. The second, “I answered: ‘Ho, Ho, Ho.’”, is a little simpler and reminiscent of works from other tutors. Its most interesting feature is the way in which it switches, quickly between solo and duet.
I have re-engraved both works and they are not available as a single-page PDF for download, along with Egan’s “Study for the Double Flageolet”.
My plan is to, eventually, consolidate as many of the small works together to make it easier for those who are interested in this music to download, print and play it.
About this Site: “The Pleasant Companion” is designed to be a resource for anyone interested in flageolets and their history and music. Transcriptions of Historical Flageolet Tutors from the 17th to 19th Centuries are available, along with free sheet music; biographies of famous flageolet–players, such as Samuel Pepys, Robert Louis Stevenson and John Parry; articles about flageolets (both new and historic); and a bibliography and discography for further listening and reading.
A short introduction: From simple beginnings in France as recorder–like instruments, over the centuries flageolets became increasing complicated and sophisticated instruments, used for personal enjoyment; making guest appearances in operas and even being used to teach birds to sing. In an attempt to smooth rough amateur breath control a distinctive arrangement of barrels and beaks was introduced in the early 18th Century and, soon, instrument makers were combining this unique profile with the simple 6–holed fingering system of recorders and transverse flutes to make a new instrument—the English flageolet. Both this and the traditional (“French”) flageolet continued to be popular in the 19th century, joined with the multiple–flageolets, invented at the turn–of–the–Century. However, despite a late revival as the solo instrument in Quadrille bands, the production of cheap tin or penny whistles took away the amateur market, resulting in a slow decline of the instruments into obscurity.