Old News

The page contains an achieve of old news stories published on the home page. Most are updates to the site.

Historic flageolet prices

A section of a 1900 catalogue showing an English flageolet and prices.

I recently came across a page from the “New York Jeweler Annual Catalogue” for 1900 which advertised musical instruments at wholesale prices.

Two types of English flageolet made from Cocoa-wood are offered. They are described as being “in B” and “in C”, although from the illustration it seems they have seven tone holes on the front so they were probably a standard English flageolet in D and a far more unusual one in C. Both types of flageolet came with at least one key, although the flageolet “in C” was also available with four or six keys.

What, however, particularly interests me is the pricing. The cheapest flageolet “in B” with one key was $3.60. The most expensive, “in C” with six keys was $5.95. The inflation charts I have looked at suggest that that equates to about $100 to $175 at today’s prices which, curiously, is not dissimilar to what an antique English flageolet might sell for today!

Although these are not huge sums of money, they are considerably more than other instruments advertised on the same page. Two tin whistles, both described as “flageolets” and made by Clark or an American company sell for 25-40c; whilst fifes range from 13c for a tin one to $2.50 for a Grenadilla “extra qualty” model. Only the Ebony fifes with pure silver ferrels are more expensive. Indeed, the prices are far more equivalent to for more professional instruments such as flutes (ranging from $3.33 to $6.58 for one- to six-key models) or piccolos. At these prices it is easy to see why the English flageolet lost so much ground to the tin whistle following its invention amongst it primarily amateur audience.

Published on: Sat, 02 Sep 2017 11:06:08 +0100

Touch screen navigation

This site’s navigation has relied on hovering over the menus with the cursor for some time now. I realise that this has made it almost impossible to use on a touch-screen device. Unfortunately, I haven’t had the time to rectify by making a proper small-screen or mobile-compatible version but have provided a semi-fix by making the arrows non-links so you can touch them to get the menu without reloading the page.

Published on: Mon, 21 Aug 2017 18:05:26 +0100

Bird Flageolets: 19-20th Centuries

I recently came across a work by Jules Jannin called “L’Art d’Élever et de Multiplier les Serins, Canaris et Hollandais” which seems ot have been first published in the 1850s and remained in print until the 1950s. Interesting, it contains a short section on using a bird flageolet to teach captive song birds to sing, suggesting that the practice was still carried out until these dates.

I have transcribed the relevant sections and added them to the page on bird flageolets and am planning on seeing if I can find any further information about late use of these instruments.

Published on: Sat, 25 Mar 2017 11:24:11 +0000

Videos: New & Improved

Following a very helpful comment by Rubens Küffer, I have re-worked the “listen” page, including many of the new videos that have been uploaded to YouTube in the years since I started this site.

A wide variety of recordings are now available, both professional and amateur, in the concert hall and recording studio, and including the full range of the family from the bird flageolet to the triple flageolet.

Do have a look and let me know if you think I have missed any of your favourites!

Published on: Mon, 08 Aug 2016 14:11:35 +0100

Méthode Élémentaire pour Flageolet—A. Patusset (Alphonse Leduc)

The French ebay recently turned up a French flagolet tutor by A. Patusset. The IMSLP Petrucci website suggests a publication date of 1866 to 1874 by reference to the publisher’s address (Alphonse Leduc; 36 rue Lepeletier).

The work has the usual introduction to musical theory; the instrument; fingering charts; and a number of studies and pieces of music of increasing difficulty. I hope, one day, to publish some of the music on this website.

In the meantime, the introduction to the instrument is interesting for its description of the French flageolet in this period. Recorder-style French flageolets were still popular but were seen by Patusset as less attractive instruments than more classical styles of the instrument (which apparently also had a sponge to condense the moisture).

Of the Flageolet

The flageolet is an instrument that is used today in every ball orchestra; in salons with piano accompaniment; and in all amateur concerts to play quadrilles. It is very easy to play; the embouchure is learned [by playing] on it; in fact, it is made by placing the lips on it and blowing, to bring out the notes.

There are several forms of flageolets; some have mouthpieces, called a short flageolet (“flageolet court”); others have a windcap (“pompe”); they all play the same way, even those with keys, the only difference is in the ease with which one plays some of the runs.

The best flageolets are in ebony with a windcap. In the windcap there is a sponge that fills the void, concentrating the humidity, without preventing the passage of the wind.

The flageolet in A, the only that is used in orchestras, is the one to study in preference. It is indeed, also, the one whose sound is more pleasant.

Du Flageolet

Le flageolet est un instrument en usage aujourd’hui dans tous les orchestres de bals; dans les salons avec accompagnement de piano et dans toutes les réunions d’amateures pour exécuter des contredanses. It est très-facile à jouer, son embouchure s’apprend de suite; il suffit, en effet, de la poser légèrement sur les lèvres et de souffler, pour faire sortir les notes.

Il existe des flageolets de plusieurs formes; les uns sont à bec, on les nomme Flageolets courts; les autres sont à pompe; ils se jouent tous de la même manière même ceux à clef, dont la différence unique consiste dans la facilité qu’on éprouve à exécuter quelques traits.

Les meilleurs flageolets sont en bois d’ébène et à pompe. Dans la pompe, on introduit une ponge qui remplit le vide, concentre l’humiditê, sans empêcher le passage du vent.

Le flageolet en la, le seul dont on se sert dans les orchestres, est celui qu’il faut étudier de préférence. C’est du reste, également, celui dont la sonorité est la plus agréable.

Published on: Sun, 29 May 2016 21:47:40 +0100

Portrait of Collinet—Again

An engraving of a statute of Collinet.

The caricature statute of Collinet by Dantan is the only portrait of this famous French flageolet player that I have found. I have recently come across the third engraving of it: in the Illustrated London News in 1842. It is accompanied, not by an article about Collinet or a review of one of his concerts, by possibly the worst poem I have read!

Oh Collinet
To hear you play
Your flageolet, from day to day
Enchanted maids might hearken;
But in what fit
Did Dantan’s wit
High mount you on that perch to sit,
Your gentle brow to darken?
[continues for two more stanzas]

Published on: Sun, 31 Jan 2016 21:50:00 +0000

A metal bird flageolet

A photograph of a small metal bird flageolet on a wooden box, next to a fountain pen for scale.

An unusual instrument I recently came across on the French ebay is a small, metal bird flageolet which is not something I had previously thought existed.

This flageolet is about 4½ inches long, with a lowest note of G two-and-a-half octaves above middle C (at A=440). Clearly made quite cheaply in at least two parts, it mostly plays in the lowest octave with conventional French flageolet fingering.

Its construction method would suggest it is from the late 19th Century, when bird flageolets were not well known and played. I therefore wonder if it was designed as a toy, although this remains a little mystery.

Published on: Mon, 11 Jan 2016 14:14:25 +0000

Sérenades by Collinet: New music for French Flageolet

Although Edmé and Hubert Collinet were the most famous performers, composers and publishers on and for the French Flageolet in the 19th Century, very little of their music has survived. I am therefore very pleased to make available the Sérenades for French Flageolet, Piano or Violin (the first complete, the second onwards in part) in a new edition for free download. At the time of writing, I believe it is the only music by either Collinet available for download or purchase on the web.

Published on: Sat, 28 Nov 2015 18:13:33 +0000

James Clark: the first Double Flageolet player?

When looking through old newspapers, I came across two intriguing adverts posted in the Caledonian Mercury in 1783 by James Clark. The first is for a concert, where Clerk announces that the programme will include a duet for two flageolets played by himself. In the second, he offers his services as a teacher including “the English Flute or Flagelet, on which he plays two at once, first and second.”

The language of this is remarkably similar to that of John Parry, 20 years later, with his first experiments which led to the development of the double flageolet with William Bainbridge. Did Parry meet Clark and take inspiration from him? Or was it just a co-incidence? Perhaps one day another advert will shed some light on the question.

Published on: Thu, 19 Nov 2015 08:06:56 +0000

New edition of Bonnisseau’s “Break of Morn in the Forest”

I have long been unhappy with the earliest scores published on this site back in 2007 and 2008 and am slowly re-engraving them. One piece is “Break of Morn in the Forest”, composed by the French bandleader and French flageolet player, Frédéric Bonnisseau in, perhaps, 1870.

The new edition includes a number of corrections to the old one, along with a transposed part for flageolet in A. I have also prepared a midi file of the score to make re-use of the material easier.

Published on: Sat, 24 Oct 2015 15:28:53 +0100

Another print of the Dantan’s sculpture of Collinet

Hubert Collinet was, perhaps, the most famous French flageolet player in the 19th Century. Unfortunately, the only portrait of him which I have come across is not a perfect likeness but a caricature by Jean Pierre Dantan (1800–1860) in the form of a small sculpture.

Whilst the original sculpture is, I believe, in the collection of the Musée Carnavalet and I have had available for some time a straight-forward engraving of it on the website, I recently came across a wood-block print of it which is now available on the website.

Published on: Fri, 16 Oct 2015 15:28:53 +0100

Two small pieces for double flageolet

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.

Published on: Sun, 14 Jun 2015 09:28:53 +0100

A More Pleasant Companion

After many months of work, I have finished an overhaul of the website. Almost every page has been rewritten, new pages have been added and a great many other changes have taken place behind the scenes. It is inevitable that some mistakes will have appeared. Please accept my apologies for these and contact me to have them corrected.

Published on: Fri, 29 May 2015 14:33:31 +0100

Some Recordings

Although they are not great, I decided it would be better than nothing to make some sound samples available on the site.

Published on: Sun, 25 Oct 2009 22:20:33 +0000

Another piece of music: Ah! Little Blind Boy

Another small piece for voice and piano with flageolet obbligato is now available. “Ah! Little Blind Boy”, dates from around 1809 and was composed by Michael Kelly.

Published on: Sun, 03 May 2009 21:17:24 +0100

New article: “Fløjtens Rejse”

I am very pleased to note the publication of a new article on the early history of the French Flageolet by Mogens Friis in the Danish magazine of medieval history and archaeology, Skalk (http://www.skalk.dk/).

Published on: Tue, Apr 14 2009 11:40:25 +0100

Various changes

After a few months of inactivity, I have recently updated several of the pages (such as the biographies of Collinet and Bainbridge) and added a new article giving some preliminary thoughts on other instruments to which the French flageolet could usefully be compared.

Published on: Sat, 11 Apr 2009 12:07:12 +0100

New Photographs

Happy new year to all readers! I have finally had a chance to take photographs of some of the flageolets in my collection, for use on the images page.

Published on: Thu, 01 Jan 2009 13:58:37 +0000

Les Chasseurs Écossais

I am very pleased to be able the site’s first complete Quadrille, Les Chasseurs Écossais by Louis Levasseur. A score and parts (Flageolet, Flute, Cornet, Violin and Piano) are available for download.

Published on: Sun, 09 Nov 2008 16:51:26 +0000


The biographies of Robert Louis Stevenson and the Collinets have now been updated and extended and a new biography of Claude Duval, a highwayman who played the flageolet, has been added.

Published on: Sat, 27 Sep 2008 11:18:29 +0100

Bainbridge’s English and French Flageolet Preceptor

I am very pleased to be able to be able to offer another complete flageolet tutor on the site. Bainbridge’s English and French Flageolet Preceptor is probably his earliest work for the instruments which would define his career. In addition to an introductory text and fingering charts, the work also includes 40 solos and duets of varying lengths and difficulty levels.

Published on: Thu, 25 Sep 2008 00:09:19 +0100

Site Aims

In what might be legitimately be described as an exercise in navel-gazing, I have put together a set of aims for the site to give readers an idea of what I see The Pleasant Companion being in the future.

Published on: Thu, 18 Sep 2008 00:00:00 GMT

Gopher Version

The Pleasant Companion is now also available on the gopher protocol. If you have Firefox or any other gopher-enabled browser, take a look at: gopher://sdf.eu.org/1/users/jacobh/flageolets !

Published on: Fri, 12 Sep 2008 00:00:00 GMT

Bainbridge Preceptor

I am currently making a new preparing of Bainbridge’s “The English and French Flageolet Preceptor” which I believe is the first tutor Bainbridge produced for the instruments that were to define the rest of his career. About half the music is now available, with more to be added in the next few weeks.

Published on: Fri, 12 Sep 2008 00:00:00 GMT

2 More of the 12 Caprices

Two more of Bousquet’s 12 Caprices are now available.

Published on: Mon, 7 Jul 2008 00:00:00 GMT

Break of Morn in the Forest: Bonnisseau

I am very pleased to be able to upload another piece for the French Flageolet by Bonnisseau.

Published on: Sun, 6 Jul 2008 00:00:00 GMT

More Ligitation

William Bainbridge, the inventor of the Double Flageolet was particularly litigious. I have recently come across a number of new law reports about cases involving him which I have put online. In particular, there are more details on the moderately famous case of Bainbridge v Briggs and also a light-hearted reported on another, unknown, case.

Published on: Fri, 4 Jul 2008 00:00:00 GMT

“On Flageolets” by John Parry

John Parry’s article “On Flageolets” is one of the earliest attempts, (it dates from 1830), to provide a history of the flageolet-family of instruments. Its full text and musical examples are now available, online, for the first time. Particularly interesting is Parry’s account of the invention of the double flageolet a rare description of, and music for, the triple flageolet.

Published on: Mon, 1 Jul 2008 00:00:00 GMT

William Bainbridge’s Will Part II

After just over a month, the National Archives have finally produced a good quality scan of William Bainbridge’s Will, allowing me to upload a transcription. This reveals some interesting new information about Bainbridge’s family, his eventual wealth and his relationship with Henry Hastrick (who eventually took over his business).

Published on: Sat, 30 May 2008 00:00:00 GMT

William Bainbridge’s Will

The U.K. National Archives have digitalised Bainbridge’s Will (along with tens-of-thousands of others), a transcript of which, I thought might provide an interesting addition to the site. Unfortunately, the scan provided was completely illegible but a transcript will be up once a new version is sent to me.

Published on: Thu, 29 May 2008 00:00:00 GMT

Flageolet-Related Crimes

The excellent Old Bailey Online website has just digitalised a large number of their records. It therefore seemed interesting to have a look to see what flageolet-related crimes have been committed over the last few centuries. The results are now online.

Published on: Tue, 13 May 2008 00:00:00 GMT

Site Updates

I haven’t had a chance to update the site in a while; many apologies. Hopefully, I will have a chance to rectify the situation soon. In the meantime, I have just come across another poem about the flageolet, which I have uploaded to the Articles section. I’m not convinced of the quality, but I think it is an interesting addition to the site.

Published on: Sat, 3 May 2008 00:00:00 GMT

Bond’s “National Melodies”

After far too long, I have finally had a free moment to proof-read and reprocess the files for the first volume of Bond’s “National Melodies”. For all those who own an English flageolet and fancy a test of their abilities, then this work is worth attempting!

Published on: Sat, 16 Feb 2008 00:00:00 GMT

Corri’s “Bird in Yonder Cage Confined”

I though that an interesting project might be to look at some of the songs which include a flageolet obbligato. Rather than starting with the more famous arias (such as Handle’s “Hush, ye pretty warbling choir”), I thought I would start with the more obscure, of which this is an interesting example.

Published on: Fri, 17 Dec 2007 00:00:00 GMT

Bond’s “National Melodies”

I am very pleased to announce that a first draft of the first volume of Bond’s “National Melodies” is now available online. Future proof-reading and, of course, typesetting of the second volume is still required, but I hope this new edition, as it currently is, will provide an interesting challenge to anyone with an English Flageolet.

Published on: Sun, 29 Dec 2007 00:00:00 GMT

Tidying (Sheet Music Page and Elsewhere)

I’ve started to overhaul the sheet music page, as the increasing number of pieces had made the old system a bit cumbersome. Also, I have been going through the site checking and cleaning up some of the code—a massively laborious task but one that needs to take place once in a while.

Published on: Thu, 27 Dec 2007 00:00:00 GMT

Another Future Project Preview–“The Musical Bee”

This is an early Victorian publications which consists of the most popular melodies that were being played at that time in theatres and musical halls, arranged “in an easy style” for flute, violin, flageolet or cornopean, for the benefit of amateur musicians. Published in monthly volumes, it allowed amateurs to play the pieces that were being performed, on stage, at that time and to find out about changing musical tastes, even if they were unable to attend. Although the music is not particularly interesting in itself (the example I have set is fairly typical) this is the sort of music most of the 19th Century amateur British players would have played, rather than the fireworks of Bond or Parry, and thus is still important.

Published on: Sat, 7 Dec 2007 00:00:00 GMT

Future Project Preview–Bond’s “National Melodies”

I bought this work at an auction a few weeks ago and it is my next major digitalisation project. Written for “flute, flageolet or violin”, it is in two volumes and is comprised of about 120 short pieces in a variety of different styles. Many of the works are fairly easy although some, such as the “Vittoria Waltz”, which I have typeset as an example, are quite challenging, and the stratospheric tessatura at which they are written suggests that Bond primarily had the flute and violin in mind when writing them. However, most are, eventually, playable (especially as Bond provides alternative sections which I think are primarily aimed at the flageolet player) and I hope that this work, when completed, will provide an interesting challenge to anyone with an English flageolet.

Published on: Sat, 7 Dec 2007 00:00:00 GMT

New Licensing Rules

I have been unhappy with the licensing for the site for a while as the GNU Free Document License seemed a bit cumbersome to use. I have therefore switched to the Creative Commons “Attribution-Non-Commercial-Share Alike 2.0 UK: England and Wales” which essentially means that you can do what you like with the content of the site as long as it is for non–commercial use; you attribute my work to me; and you license and derived works under the same license. If you would like to use something for commercial purposes or for something which cannot be licensed under the same license, then a quick email to me should sort out an alternative license.

Published on: Thu, 4 Dec 2007 00:00:00 GMT

Jules Gard’s “Méthod Compléte de Flageolet sans Clés ou avec Clés” Part Deux

Having managed to find a few free hours, I have typeset the text from this work, reproduced the fingering charts and uploaded the new document. The text still needs to be proof–read but I thought it would be better to make it available, with mistakes, than to wait until I find the time to check it through.

Published on: Thu, 3 Dec 2007 00:00:00 GMT

Jules Gard’s “Méthod Compléte de Flageolet sans Clés ou avec Clés”

The music from Jules Gard’s “Méthod Compléte de Flageolet sans Clés ou avec Clés” has just been typeset and uploaded. This is a very attractive work for French flageolet, consisting of 42 pieces and 13 studies, that cover a variety of styles and range in difficulty from the simple to quite advanced. I hope that a final edition will follow soon, with the original and modern introductions and slightly better typesetting.

Published on: Thu, 22 Nov 2007 00:00:00 GMT

More Guestbook Changes

I’ve put a little effort into tidying up the guestbook. For those who are interested in the technical aspects of the site, you might like to know that the feed should, now, properly validate.

Published on: Thu, 8 Nov 2007 00:00:00 GMT

Briggs’ “A Choice Collection…”

Last week, I finally managed to find time to go back to the British Library and proof–read my copy of Brigg’s “A Choice Collection of 20 Airs”. The new version is now online. If you are interested in the sort of music that was played on the Double Flageolet, then do take a look!

Published on: Wed, 17 Oct 2007 00:00:00 GMT

Bainbridge v Wigley

Continuing the Bainbridge theme, I have just added, with some comments, a transcript of his 1810 case against Wigley for patent infringements relating to his Improved Flageolet.

Published on: Wed, 17 Oct 2007 00:00:00 GMT

35 Holborn Hill

A little passage about the possible location of William Bainbridge's main workshop (35 Holborn Hill) has been added (with some photographs of the area as it is now).

Published on: Fri, 12 Oct 2007 00:00:00 GMT

New Fingering Charts

I have put together and uploaded a couple of new fingering charts, for the keyless French Flageolet and the keyless English Flageolet. I hope that these will complement the interactive charts that have been on the site for a while and offer a useful (and printable) resource.

Published on: Sat, 29 Sep 2007 00:00:00 GMT

Updated Bibliography

As promised, after a few hours of fiddling with XML and php5, the Bibliography has been updated and turned into a format which should make keeping it in order much easier in the future.

Published on: Thurs, 20 Sep 2007 00:00:00 GMT

Latest News Now Available by RSS Feed

Thanks to the wonders of php5, the site's “Latest News” is now available by a RSS feed. A few more pieces of XML will be added to the site soon to help better process data.

Published on: Wed, 19 Sep 2007 00:00:00 GMT

Quite a few pieces of news to report:

1. Following a request in the Guestbook a classified section has been added. If you have an instrument you would like to sell, or wish to place a “Wanted” advert, then please contact me. 2. A new guide to playing the flageolet part in Gilbert and Sullivan's “The Sorcerer” has been added. It's a work in progress so let me know your views! 3. As a trial, I have put a few Google Ads on the home page to see if they generate enough revenue to cover the hosting costs. They shouldn't be too intrusive and I'll remove them if it doesn't seem to be worth keeping them. 4. Finally, it might just be worth noting that traffic has increased by about 50% over the Summer and I am constantly surprised at how many people are discovering the site and the flageolet.

Published on: Sat, 15 Sep 2007 00:00:00 GMT

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