Click here to for the full-sized Serpent fingering chart (better for saving to print later)
Happily, the ophicleide is much more predictable than the serpent, and it is possible to show a fairly typical fingering pattern that will work with most examples of the instrument. The only real complication is that ophicleides had between 9 and 11 keys during their heyday. The pattern provided is for an ophicleide with 9 keys, with some suggestion of how the additional key(s) might be used. The primary nine holes are numbered starting with the hole nearest to the bell, and progressing towards the mouthpiece, and the extra holes are numbered apart from that sequence. Note that the position of the keys and/or levers that open and close the holes are not necessarily in the same positional order as the holes; use the hole numbers to read the chart! The reader will see that almost all of the fingerings use only the top five holes & keys, with the remainder of the holes coming into play in the lower register and usually for only one specific note per hole (not at all like typical woodwind OR serpent fingerings!) It has been observed that the majority of notes on the ophicleide are fingered in a pattern similar to that of a valved instrument. The pattern is for an ophicleide in B-flat; simply shift the pattern up one full step (two notes to the right on the chart) for ophicleides in C, or see the special chart further below..
P.S. Ophicleides use keys that open the associated
holes when pressed by the fingers, with the exception of the large hole
near the bell; for this hole, the key closes the hole when pressed.
is due in part to the lowest note on the ophicleide being a half step
than the fundamental pitch of the instrument, e.g; on a B-flat
the instrument will default to a B-flat if no keys are pressed, but
the first key pressed the top hole becomes covered and the pitch drops
to an A. The use of the top key is almost identical to that of the 2nd
valve on a valved brass instrument!
Click here to for the full-sized B-flat Ophicleide fingering chart (better for saving to print later)
By popular demand, here is a special version of the ophicleide
chart, with adjustments made for C instruments. As with the above
to get a high resolution chart for printing, click on the link to get
large 300x300 DPI version; it will seem huge in your browser window,
don't worry. Just right click on whatever part of the image is visible
(this works in Windows at least) and select the option to 'Save Image
After saving the image, load it into any paint or graphics program that
can read GIF files, then print it to your printer. If all is right, you
should get a copy at the original scanned size, suitable for framing!
Click here to for the full-sized C Ophicleide fingering chart (better for saving to print later)
Copyright Paul Schmidt 2000
added June 2006