The Danse Macabre was originally composed in 1872 for voice and piano. Two years later, Camille Saint-Saëns arranged the song for orchestra. The human voice was “replaced” here by the solo violin, whose highest string was “wrongly” tuned a half step lower. Instead of the perfect fifth A-E, the violin is now tuned to the devil’s interval, A-E-flat, the “diabolus in musica".
In this arrangement, the devil plays on a Schnarrkopf Flute (buzzing headjoint) instead of an out-of-tune violin. The midnight ringing of the bell at the cemetery is sounded by the bass flute, the graves open up, and the skeletons of the dead must dance to the melody of the devil’s waltz until the cock crows at dawn (here portrayed by the piccolo), bringing an end to the nocturnal shadow display.
- 3 C Flutes (2nd Flute doubles on Piccolo, 3rd Flute optional double on buzzing-headjoint flute)
- Alto Flute
- Bass Flute