Faà di Bruno, Giovanni Matteo [Horatio, Orazio] 83

Flaschenspiel (Ger.). See Bouteillophone. Flat

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See Bouteillophone.


(Fr. bémol; Ger. Be; It. bemolle; Sp. bemol).

In Western notation the sign , normally placed to the left of a note and indicating that that note is to be lowered in pitch by one semitone. Such a note is described in English usage as ‘flattened’ or in American usage as ‘flatted’. The adjective ‘flat’ is used to denote intonation below the notated pitch (though the phrase ‘flat six’ etc. is colloquially used to signify a note or chord of the flattened 6th by reference to the figuring ‘6’).

A double flat (Fr. double bémol; Ger. Doppel-Be; It. doppio bemolle), the notational sign , indicates that a note is to be lowered in pitch by two semitones.

See also Accidental; Notation, §III, 3, 4; Pitch nomenclature.


Flaté [flatté]


See Flattement.


See Plectrum.

Flatt and Scruggs.

American bluegrass and country duo. Lester (Raymond) Flatt (b Duncan's Chapel, TN, 14 June 1914; d Nashville, TN, 11 May 1979; vocals, acoustic guitar) and Earl (Eugene) Scruggs (b Flint Hill, NC, 6 Jan 1924; banjo) played a major role in popularizing bluegrass music. From rural homes, they worked in textile mills before becoming professional musicians. Flatt began his career in 1939 and met Scruggs in 1945 when they joined Bill Monroe's band, the Blue Grass Boys. Scruggs had developed a distinctive style enabling him to play a wide variety of music with speed and clarity and they helped Monroe create the sound that became known as bluegrass. In 1948 they formed their band, the Foggy Mountain Boys, recording for Mercury and working at radio stations in the South-east. In 1950 they signed with Columbia, with whom they remained for the rest of their career together. Their band maintained a purely acoustic sound resembling Monroe's until 1955, when they diverged slightly with the addition of a guitarist playing a Dobro.

In 1953 Martha White Flour began sponsoring their performances on WSM radio, Nashville, remaining their sponsor for the rest of their career, and in 1955 they joined the country radio show ‘Grand Ole Opry’. During the late 1950s their syndicated television shows were seen by millions in the South-east, and their recordings became hits in the country charts. Meanwhile their banjo-sparked acoustic sound found favour with folk music revivalists. While performing at a Hollywood folk club, they were noticed by the producer of the television show ‘The Beverly Hillbillies’, and subsequently recorded its theme The Ballad of Jed Clampett, a number one country hit for them in 1963. Five years later their 1949 recording of Foggy Mountain Breakdown, used in the film Bonnie and Clyde, was a hit in the pop charts. Musical differences brought the act to an end in 1969. Both continued to perform, Scruggs with his sons in the Earl Scruggs Revue, and Flatt with his Nashville Grass. In 1985 the duo of Flatt and Scruggs was elected to the Country Music Hall of Fame.


J. Lambert and C. Seckler: The Good Things Outweigh the Bad: a Biography of Lester Flatt (Hendersonville, TN, 1982)

N.V. Rosenberg: ‘Image and Stereotype: Bluegrass Sound Tracks’, American Music, i/3 (1983), 1–22

N.V. Rosenberg: Bluegrass: A History (Urbana, TL, 1985)

N.V. Rosenberg: ‘The Flatt & Scruggs Discography’, Journal of Country Music, xii (1989), no.2, 46–8; xiii (1989), no.1, 40–5; xiii (1990), no.2, 29–35; xiii (1991), no.3, 30–8; xiv (1991), no.1, 37–46

N.V. Rosenberg: disc notes, Flatt & Scruggs: 1948–1959, Bear Family BCD 15472 (1991)

N.V. Rosenberg: disc notes, Flatt & Scruggs: 1959–1963, Bear Family BCD 15559 (1992)

N.V. Rosenberg: disc notes, Flatt & Scruggs: 1964–1969, plus, Bear Family BCD 15879 (1995)


Flattement [flaté, flatté, tremblement mineur]

(Fr.; Ger. Bebung).

An ornament, not unlike a trill, used in woodwind playing, produced by a quick finger movement on the edge of or above a tone hole (usually the highest open hole). It was described in Dutch, English, French and German sources from 1654 to 1847, including Jacques Hotteterre's Principes de la flûte traversière (1707). One of the few collections where it was explicitly marked was P.D. Philidor's suites (1717–18). In English the ornament was described as a ‘sweetening’ or ‘softening’ of the note. Sometimes called a ‘finger vibrato’, the flattement was not intended to be perceived as a change of pitch. It was applied selectively, usually to long notes, and was often associated with swells. The sign for the flattement (rarely marked in music) was a horizontal wavy line. The flattement afforded considerable control of both speed and amplitude, and was better suited to the short and complex phrasing of the music of the 17th and 18th centuries than modern breath vibrato; the latter is not documented before the 1790s.

In string playing a similar ornament was termed pincé by Marais and others. It was described as a two-finger vibrato, produced by the rocking motion of two fingers pressed against each other. The terms ‘flattement’ and ‘flaté’ or ‘flatté’ were also applied to vocal vibrato. For further information and variant interpretations see Ornaments, §8; see also Vibrato.


B.B. Mather: Interpretation of French Music from 1675 to 1775 (New York, 1973)

G. Moens-Haenen: Das Vibrato in der Musik des Barock (Graz, 1988)

B. Haynes: ‘Das Fingervibrato (flattement) auf Holzblasinstrumenten im 17., 18. und 19. Jahrhundert’, Tibia, xxii (1997), 401–7, 481–7


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