Instruments | Ophicleide | Late Romantic | Classical
Patented in 1821, the ophicleide was a French invention. Although the name is intended to mean ‘keyed serpent’, the instrument is not a serpent, but rather a development of the keyed bugle, undertaken by Halary in Paris. The instrument comes in various sizes with various ranges, but all built to the same pattern. Built in a tight U-shape, the ophicleide is held upright, with the bell opening a little above the player’s crown and the mouthpiece at the end of a crook at 45 degrees to the instrument’s body. Generally made of brass (wooden instruments were known: the maker Thomas McBean Glen of Edinburgh called his ‘serpentkleides’), it had anything from nine to 12 keys.
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