Initially the vertical bass flute was simply an experiment by jazz bands or choirs looking for new sounds. It featured a low, melodic tone less forceful than a concert flute and a unique alternative to saxophones. The large size (57-½") and weight (4 times greater than a concert flute) posed a bit of a challenge to performers so it was intentionally crafted to rest on the ground by the feet. Certainly this was an instrument that was noticeable.
In addition, the vertical flute is pitched in the C key, a full octave lower than a traditional concert flute. It will go as low as 3 ranges below C3 for added versatility. Appearance-wise, it has a headjoint curved in a 'J' shape so the tone hole is above the body when played. As well the body is not tapered through the curves so notes in a D6 and higher tend to sound sharp.
For a brighter more resonant tone, the player often uses a C foot in place of a B normally seen in various other flutes. By using this shorter tube, acoustic resistance is lessened, making response faster and the flute feel lighter. This is a big help during rehearsals to alleviate player weariness.
Along with the unique shape, Jupiter bass flutes have an attractive silver-plated nickel body, foot and headjoint along with sterling silver lip-plates and risers. They also feature plateau-style closed keys and French pointed arms for added sleekness and elegance. Sheet music is available in an octave higher than it really sounds, ranging from C4 to C7. There are many outstanding music available including Two for Two by Katherine Hoover; Karuna by Bill Douglas; and Obstinato by Mike Mower to name a few. As well, instructional etudes are available that specifically pinpoint issues in balance, finger technique, air stream, and overblowing when playing the vertical bass flute.