Famous flute pieces using chromatic scales!

Flute Q&A #47: Famous flute pieces using chromatic scales!

Mar 14, 2023

Here is the Flute Q&A #47 question from Jeremy:

"I'm currently trying to master a chromatic scale. What are some examples of flute pieces that use a chromatic scale? It will help me stay motivated - thank you!"

It's such a great question, and Jeremy, you inspired me to create this fun video, with lots of flute playing in it!

I hope these 7 examples of pieces that use chromatic scales help you!

Famous flute pieces using chromatic scales!

Jeremy, the free mini-course to instantly improve your flute tone can be registered for here

And a question for YOU!
What pieces written for flute that have chromatic passages in them have I missed in this video? Let me know in the comments below!

Feel free to ask your flute question for an upcoming Flute Q&A by clicking here

Chromatic scales on the flute

Welcome to Flute Q and A Number 47. This is about famous flute pieces that use chromatic scales. So Q and A number 47 comes from Jeremy, I should say question number 47 comes from Germany, <laugh>. Sorry Jeremy. He says, I'm currently trying to master a chromatic scale. What are some examples of pieces that use a chromatic scale. It will help me stay motivated. Thank you.

Examples of chromatic scales on the flute

Oh, he actually asked what are some examples of flute pieces. So we're going to have a look at some famous flute pieces that use some chromatic scales. I'll give you demonstrations and we'll look at a few famous pieces that are not written for flute that also use chromatic scales. So here we go. I have a whole lot of examples for you.

Famous flute pieces that use chromatic scales

Now, if I forget any, actually not forget, I don't have time to do all chromatic pieces that use chromatic scales in this video. So if I haven't included one and you suspect I might have forgotten it because it's so famous, and if you're watching this on YouTube, write it in the comments below because I'm keen to know what I haven't remembered. And if there's enough, maybe I'll do another video with a whole bunch of other flute pieces that use chromatic scales or chromatic passages.

Syrinx by Debussy on flute

Here we go. Alright, let me just see how many examples I've got. Ooh, I didn't count up how many, but anyway, let's get started. Okay, Syrinx by Debussy. This is famous for the flute. Now it's not actually chromatic scales, but there is so much chromaticism in these melodies, this totally counts as a piece that uses parts of chromatic scales. So you probably recognize this or you might recognize this. It's a pretty famous repertoire for flute.

Flight of the Bumblebee on flute

Okay, the next one, this is actually not a common flute repertoire. It's written for flute, or at least it was made famous for flute by James Galway playing Flight of the Bumblebee at top speed. It's a bit of a party trick. It's by Rimsky-Korsakov. Actually, now that I think about it, I don't know if it's actually originally written for the flute. Maybe it is. If you know, let me know in the comments.

Chromatic scales on flute

I'm not gonna do it at top speed because I haven't spent hours practising this. I've spent five minutes practising this. I could get that faster with some practice. So that's part of the Bumblebee, by all means, practice it. It's actually not that hard. People think it's the hardest, not people <laugh>, some people some less educated people think that it's the hardest piece to play, but it's not. It's just fast.

Afternoon of a Faun solo on flute

The next one comes from Debussy, Prélude à l'après-midi d'un faune otherwise known as Afternoon of a Faun. If you're a flute player, you probably know this. Let's see how much I can do in one breath. I've played this in an orchestra. It's amazing.

Chromaticism on flute

Again, it's not strictly chromatic scales, but there's enough chromaticism, and chromatic passages in there to be included. You'll probably notice it's the same composer as Syrinx and I said the same thing about Syrinx. Debussy uses a lot of chromaticism, but not necessarily straight chromatic scales. He uses a lot of whole tone scales, actually.

Flute solo from Aviary, Carnival of the Animals 

Okay, the next one comes from Saint-Saëns. This is called Volière, also known as Aviary from Carnival of the Animals. It's really cool. Okay, so let's see if you know the start. Also, I spent five minutes practising this, not hours. So let's see how it goes.

Okay, and then jumping to the next section is where chromaticism is. So there are straight chromatic scales there.

French flute music

All right, the next piece Fauré. Have you been noticing that there's a bit of a French theme going on here? Fauré Fantaisie. So this is funny, this piece, this is such standard flute repertoire, high level flute playing. I've never played this piece. I mean, I've had a bit of a fiddle with it, but I've never performed it or practised it to perform. You might recognize it.

Standard flute repertoire

So that's not the chromatic bit. This is the chromatic bit. Jumping down in the page, there's the famous fast section. Oops, that's really cool. It's a great piece. One day I should probably learn it because it's such standard flute repertoire.

Flute piece, Allegretto by Godard

The next one, I remember doing this as a student. This is by Godard French again from Sweden. So three sweets in three sections. This is Allegretto. The chromatic bit is down the bottom, which goes over two pages and it goes so cool. Great piece. If you wanna learn a piece, it's excellent.

French flute composers using chromaticism

And the last example of a famous flute piece that use chromatic passages is Concertino s by Chaminade. French again, as we said the French like their chromatic scales. This is really famous, you might recognize it. Chaminade by the way is female. Is a female. Cécile. Quite unusual for the time, or at least quite unusual to be famous at the time.

I'm gonna do that again for two reasons. I forgot to breathe because I was talking and I played a big bum note. So that is a beautiful melody of Cécile Chaminade's Concertina. No, Constantino, I always thought it was Concertina. How funny.

Further chromatic pieces

Alright, now we have sin, three bonuses. These were not written for flute, but they are very chromatic and very famous. So the first one is Habanera from Carmen by Bizet. Also, French, what's going on? Not written for flute originally, but famous and great.

Chromaticism in famous pieces

Für Elise by Beethoven, not French. Also not written for the flute. It's written for the piano. And you can hear the little chromatic sections in there, just between two notes. And the last example, is not written for flute, not French. An actual fact, I dunno where this is from. Fučík, Entrance of the Gladiators. You might go, Ooh, I don't know this. I guarantee you will know this. It's also called, I didn't know this Grand March Chromatic. So grand big chromatic march, you could call it. So I bet you know this.

Most people, well, at least me, until about 10 years ago. So quite recently, I did not know that. It's called  Entrance of the Gladiators. It sounds like circus music.

Many flute pieces with chromatic scales

Anyway, if you have a chromatic piece written for flute that I haven't mentioned, I'd love it if you could put it below in the comments on YouTube, if you're watching this on YouTube, because if there's enough, I can do another video and show you how they go.

Free flute mini course on tone

All right, I should say one more thing. If you would like to improve your own tone on the flute, if you would like a clearer tone on your flute, come and join me at and enroll for the three day free minicourse. I will fix your embouchure and that will fix your tone. So it's pretty quick as well.

See you later.


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