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.

The ophicleide was taken up by military bands, but can also be found in the scores of Berlioz, Verdi and Wagner.

Styles & Forms | Late Romantic | Classical
Instruments | Guitar | Modern Era | Classical


An extensive music information resource, bringing together the talents and expertise of a wide range of editors and musicologists, including Stanley Sadie, Charles Wilson, Paul Du Noyer, Tony Byworth, Bob Allen, Howard Mandel, Cliff Douse, William Schafer, John Wilson...


Classical, Rock, Blues, Jazz, Country and more. Flame Tree has been making encyclopaedias and guides about music for over 20 years. Now Flame Tree Pro brings together a huge canon of carefully curated information on genres, styles, artists and instruments. It's a perfect tool for study, and entertaining too, a great companion to our music books.

Rock, A Life Story

Rock, A Life Story

The ultimate story of a life of rock music, from the 1950s to the present day.

David Bowie

David Bowie

Fantastic new, unofficial biography covers his life, music, art and movies, with a sweep of incredible photographs.