Flute

Flute

Overview


The flute is a musical instrument
Musical instrument
A musical instrument is a device created or adapted for the purpose of making musical sounds. In principle, any object that produces sound can serve as a musical instrument—it is through purpose that the object becomes a musical instrument. The history of musical instruments dates back to the...

  of the woodwind family. Unlike woodwind instruments with reeds
Reed (instrument)
A reed is a thin strip of material which vibrates to produce a sound on a musical instrument. The reeds of most Woodwind instruments are made from Arundo donax or synthetic material; tuned reeds are made of metal or synthetics.-Single reeds:Single reeds are used on the mouthpieces of clarinets...

, a flute is an aerophone
Aerophone
An aerophone is any musical instrument which produces sound primarily by causing a body of air to vibrate, without the use of strings or membranes, and without the vibration of the instrument itself adding considerably to the sound...

 or reedless wind instrument
Reedless wind instrument
Reedless wind instruments are wind instruments that do not have moving parts in their mouthpieces.Wind instruments are often characterized by their number of reeds, which is typically zero, one, or two. Reedless wind instruments typically have no moving parts other than the wind itself...

 that produces its sound from the flow of air across an opening. According to the instrument classification of Hornbostel-Sachs
Hornbostel-Sachs
Hornbostel–Sachs is a system of musical instrument classification devised by Erich Moritz von Hornbostel and Curt Sachs, and first published in the Zeitschrift für Ethnologie in 1914. An English translation was published in the Galpin Society Journal in 1961...

, flutes are categorized as edge-blown aerophones
Edge-blown aerophones
Edge-blown aerophones is one of the categories of musical instruments found in the Hornbostel-Sachs system of musical instrument classification. In order to produce sound with these Aerophones the player makes a ribbon-shaped flow of air with his lips , or his breath is directed through a duct...

.

A musician
Musician
A musician is an artist who plays a musical instrument. It may or may not be the person's profession. Musicians can be classified by their roles in performing music and writing music.Also....* A person who makes music a profession....

 who plays the flute can be referred to as a flute player, a flautist
Flautist
A flautist or flutist is a musician who plays an instrument in the flute family. See List of flautists.The choice of "flautist" versus "flutist" is the source of dispute among players of the instrument...

, a flutist, or less commonly a fluter.

Aside from the voice, flutes are the earliest known musical instruments
Paleolithic flutes
A number of flutes dating to the European Upper Paleolithic have been discovered. The undisputed claims are all products of the Aurignacian archaeological culture, beginning about 40,000 to 35,000 years ago, and have been found in the Swabian Alb region of Germany. These flutes represent the...

.
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Encyclopedia


The flute is a musical instrument
Musical instrument
A musical instrument is a device created or adapted for the purpose of making musical sounds. In principle, any object that produces sound can serve as a musical instrument—it is through purpose that the object becomes a musical instrument. The history of musical instruments dates back to the...

  of the woodwind family. Unlike woodwind instruments with reeds
Reed (instrument)
A reed is a thin strip of material which vibrates to produce a sound on a musical instrument. The reeds of most Woodwind instruments are made from Arundo donax or synthetic material; tuned reeds are made of metal or synthetics.-Single reeds:Single reeds are used on the mouthpieces of clarinets...

, a flute is an aerophone
Aerophone
An aerophone is any musical instrument which produces sound primarily by causing a body of air to vibrate, without the use of strings or membranes, and without the vibration of the instrument itself adding considerably to the sound...

 or reedless wind instrument
Reedless wind instrument
Reedless wind instruments are wind instruments that do not have moving parts in their mouthpieces.Wind instruments are often characterized by their number of reeds, which is typically zero, one, or two. Reedless wind instruments typically have no moving parts other than the wind itself...

 that produces its sound from the flow of air across an opening. According to the instrument classification of Hornbostel-Sachs
Hornbostel-Sachs
Hornbostel–Sachs is a system of musical instrument classification devised by Erich Moritz von Hornbostel and Curt Sachs, and first published in the Zeitschrift für Ethnologie in 1914. An English translation was published in the Galpin Society Journal in 1961...

, flutes are categorized as edge-blown aerophones
Edge-blown aerophones
Edge-blown aerophones is one of the categories of musical instruments found in the Hornbostel-Sachs system of musical instrument classification. In order to produce sound with these Aerophones the player makes a ribbon-shaped flow of air with his lips , or his breath is directed through a duct...

.

A musician
Musician
A musician is an artist who plays a musical instrument. It may or may not be the person's profession. Musicians can be classified by their roles in performing music and writing music.Also....* A person who makes music a profession....

 who plays the flute can be referred to as a flute player, a flautist
Flautist
A flautist or flutist is a musician who plays an instrument in the flute family. See List of flautists.The choice of "flautist" versus "flutist" is the source of dispute among players of the instrument...

, a flutist, or less commonly a fluter.

Aside from the voice, flutes are the earliest known musical instruments
Paleolithic flutes
A number of flutes dating to the European Upper Paleolithic have been discovered. The undisputed claims are all products of the Aurignacian archaeological culture, beginning about 40,000 to 35,000 years ago, and have been found in the Swabian Alb region of Germany. These flutes represent the...

. A number of flutes dating to about 40,000 to 35,000 years ago have been found in the Swabian Alb
Swabian Alb
The Swabian Alps or Swabian Jura is a low mountain range in Baden-Württemberg, Germany, extending 220 km from southwest to northeast and 40 to 70 km in width. It is named after the region of Swabia....

 region of Germany
Germany
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

. These flutes demonstrate that a developed musical tradition existed from the earliest period of modern human presence in Europe.

History




The oldest flute ever discovered may be a fragment of the femur
Femur
The femur , or thigh bone, is the most proximal bone of the leg in tetrapod vertebrates capable of walking or jumping, such as most land mammals, birds, many reptiles such as lizards, and amphibians such as frogs. In vertebrates with four legs such as dogs and horses, the femur is found only in...

 of a juvenile cave bear
Cave Bear
The cave bear was a species of bear that lived in Europe during the Pleistocene and became extinct at the beginning of the Last Glacial Maximum about 27,500 years ago....

, with two to four holes, found at Divje Babe in Slovenia
Slovenia
Slovenia , officially the Republic of Slovenia , is a country in Central and Southeastern Europe touching the Alps and bordering the Mediterranean. Slovenia borders Italy to the west, Croatia to the south and east, Hungary to the northeast, and Austria to the north, and also has a small portion of...

 and dated to about 43,000 years ago. However, this has been disputed. In 2008 another flute dated back to at least 35,000 years ago was discovered in Hohle Fels
Hohle Fels
The Hohle Fels is a cave in the Swabian Alb of Germany that has yielded a number of important archaeological finds dating to the Upper Paleolithic. Artifacts found in the cave represent some of the earliest examples of prehistoric art and musical instruments ever discovered...

 cave near Ulm
Ulm
Ulm is a city in the federal German state of Baden-Württemberg, situated on the River Danube. The city, whose population is estimated at 120,000 , forms an urban district of its own and is the administrative seat of the Alb-Donau district. Ulm, founded around 850, is rich in history and...

, Germany
Germany
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

. The five-holed flute has a V-shaped mouthpiece and is made from a vulture
Vulture
Vulture is the name given to two groups of convergently evolved scavenging birds, the New World Vultures including the well-known Californian and Andean Condors, and the Old World Vultures including the birds which are seen scavenging on carcasses of dead animals on African plains...

 wing bone. The researchers involved in the discovery officially published their findings in the journal Nature
Nature (journal)
Nature, first published on 4 November 1869, is ranked the world's most cited interdisciplinary scientific journal by the Science Edition of the 2010 Journal Citation Reports...

, in August 2009. The discovery is also the oldest confirmed find of any musical instrument in history. The flute, one of several found, was found in the Hohle Fels cavern
Hohle Fels
The Hohle Fels is a cave in the Swabian Alb of Germany that has yielded a number of important archaeological finds dating to the Upper Paleolithic. Artifacts found in the cave represent some of the earliest examples of prehistoric art and musical instruments ever discovered...

 next to the Venus of Hohle Fels
Venus of Hohle Fels
The Venus of Hohle Fels is an Upper Paleolithic Venus figurine found in 2008 near Schelklingen, Germany...

 and a short distance from the oldest known human
Human
Humans are the only living species in the Homo genus...

 carving. On announcing the discovery, scientists suggested that the "finds demonstrate the presence of a well-established musical tradition at the time when modern humans colonized Europe". Scientists have also suggested that the discovery of the flute may help to explain "the probable behavioural and cognitive gulf between" Neanderthals and early modern human.

A three-holed flute, 18.7 cm long, made from a mammoth
Mammoth
A mammoth is any species of the extinct genus Mammuthus. These proboscideans are members of Elephantidae, the family of elephants and mammoths, and close relatives of modern elephants. They were often equipped with long curved tusks and, in northern species, a covering of long hair...

 tusk (from the Geißenklösterle
Geißenklösterle
Geißenklösterle is a cave near Blaubeuren, Swabian Alb, Southern Germany. It is an important site for the European Upper Paleolithic.-Overview:...

 cave, near Ulm, in the southern German Swabian Alb
Swabian Alb
The Swabian Alps or Swabian Jura is a low mountain range in Baden-Württemberg, Germany, extending 220 km from southwest to northeast and 40 to 70 km in width. It is named after the region of Swabia....

 and dated to 30,000 to 37,000 years ago) was discovered in 2004, and two flutes made from swan
Swan
Swans, genus Cygnus, are birds of the family Anatidae, which also includes geese and ducks. Swans are grouped with the closely related geese in the subfamily Anserinae where they form the tribe Cygnini. Sometimes, they are considered a distinct subfamily, Cygninae...

 bones excavated a decade earlier (from the same cave in Germany, dated to circa 36,000 years ago) are among the oldest known musical instruments.
Playable 9000-year-old Gudi
Gudi (instrument)
The Jiahu gǔdí is the oldest known musical instrument from China, dating back to around 6000 BC. Gudi literally means "bone flute".- History :...

 (literally, "bone flute"), made from the wing bones of red-crowned cranes, with five to eight holes each, were excavated from a tomb in Jiahu
Jiahu
Jiahu was the site of a Neolithic Yellow River settlement based in the central plains of ancient China, modern Wuyang, Henan Province. Archaeologists consider the site to be one of the earliest examples of the Peiligang culture. Settled from 7000 to 5800 BC, the site was later flooded and abandoned...

 in the Central Chinese province of Henan.

The earliest extant Chinese transverse flute is a chi (篪) flute discovered in the Tomb of Marquis Yi of Zeng
Tomb of Marquis Yi of Zeng
The Tomb of Marquis Yi of Zeng is an important archaeological site in Suizhou, Hubei, China, dated sometime after 433 BCE. The tomb contained the remains of Marquis Yi of Zeng...

 at the Suizhou
Suizhou
Suizhou , formerly Sui County , is a prefecture-level city in Hubei province of Central China.-Administration:The prefecture-level city of Suizhou administers 2 county-level divisions, including 1 district and 1 county-level city....

 site, Hubei
Hubei
' Hupeh) is a province in Central China. The name of the province means "north of the lake", referring to its position north of Lake Dongting...

 province, China
China
Chinese civilization may refer to:* China for more general discussion of the country.* Chinese culture* Greater China, the transnational community of ethnic Chinese.* History of China* Sinosphere, the area historically affected by Chinese culture...

. It dates from 433 BC, of the later Zhou Dynasty
Zhou Dynasty
The Zhou Dynasty was a Chinese dynasty that followed the Shang Dynasty and preceded the Qin Dynasty. Although the Zhou Dynasty lasted longer than any other dynasty in Chinese history, the actual political and military control of China by the Ji family lasted only until 771 BC, a period known as...

. It is fashioned of lacquer
Lacquer
In a general sense, lacquer is a somewhat imprecise term for a clear or coloured varnish that dries by solvent evaporation and often a curing process as well that produces a hard, durable finish, in any sheen level from ultra matte to high gloss and that can be further polished as required...

ed bamboo with closed ends and has five stops that are at the flute's side instead of the top. Chi flutes are mentioned in Shi Jing
Shi Jing
The Classic of Poetry , translated variously as the Book of Songs, the Book of Odes, and often known simply as its original name The Odes, is the earliest existing collection of Chinese poems and songs. It comprises 305 poems and songs, with many range from the 10th to the 7th centuries BC...

, compiled and edited by Confucius
Confucius
Confucius , literally "Master Kong", was a Chinese thinker and social philosopher of the Spring and Autumn Period....

, according to tradition.

The Bible, in Genesis 4:21, cites Jubal
Jubal (Bible)
Jubal is an individual mentioned in the Hebrew Bible, in .- Family :Jubal was a descendant of Cain, the son of Lamech and Adah, and the brother of Jabal, and half-brother of Tubal-cain and Naamah...

 as being the "father of all those who play the ugab and the kinnor
Kinnor
Kinnor is the Hebrew name for an ancient Israelite lyre mentioned in the Bible and commonly translated as harp.-History:The identification of the instrument is uncertain, but a few historians of musical instruments say it is similar to the Greek cithara, Though the Kinnura is a better...

". The former Hebrew term refers to some wind instrument, or wind instruments in general, the latter to a stringed instrument, or stringed instruments in general. As such, Jubal is regarded in the Judeo-Christian tradition as the inventor of the flute (a word used in some translations of this biblical passage). Some early flutes were made out of tibia
Tibia
The tibia , shinbone, or shankbone is the larger and stronger of the two bones in the leg below the knee in vertebrates , and connects the knee with the ankle bones....

s (shin bones). The flute has also always been an essential part of Indian culture and mythology, and the cross flute believed by several accounts to originate in India
India
India , officially the Republic of India , is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by geographical area, the second-most populous country with over 1.2 billion people, and the most populous democracy in the world...

 as Indian literature from 1500 BCE has made vague references to the cross flute.

Flute acoustics


A flute produces sound
Sound
Sound is a mechanical wave that is an oscillation of pressure transmitted through a solid, liquid, or gas, composed of frequencies within the range of hearing and of a level sufficiently strong to be heard, or the sensation stimulated in organs of hearing by such vibrations.-Propagation of...

 when a stream of air directed across a hole in the instrument creates a vibration of air at the hole.

The air stream across this hole creates a Bernoulli, or siphon. This excites the air contained in the usually cylindrical resonant cavity within the flute. The player changes the pitch
Pitch (music)
Pitch is an auditory perceptual property that allows the ordering of sounds on a frequency-related scale.Pitches are compared as "higher" and "lower" in the sense associated with musical melodies,...

 of the sound produced by opening and closing holes in the body of the instrument, thus changing the effective length of the resonator
Resonator
A resonator is a device or system that exhibits resonance or resonant behavior, that is, it naturally oscillates at some frequencies, called its resonant frequencies, with greater amplitude than at others. The oscillations in a resonator can be either electromagnetic or mechanical...

 and its corresponding resonant frequency. By varying the air pressure, a flute player can also change the pitch of a note by causing the air in the flute to resonate at a harmonic
Harmonic
A harmonic of a wave is a component frequency of the signal that is an integer multiple of the fundamental frequency, i.e. if the fundamental frequency is f, the harmonics have frequencies 2f, 3f, 4f, . . . etc. The harmonics have the property that they are all periodic at the fundamental...

 other than the fundamental frequency
Fundamental frequency
The fundamental frequency, often referred to simply as the fundamental and abbreviated f0, is defined as the lowest frequency of a periodic waveform. In terms of a superposition of sinusoids The fundamental frequency, often referred to simply as the fundamental and abbreviated f0, is defined as the...

 without opening or closing any holes.

To be louder, a flute must use a larger resonator, a larger air stream, or increased air stream velocity
Velocity
In physics, velocity is speed in a given direction. Speed describes only how fast an object is moving, whereas velocity gives both the speed and direction of the object's motion. To have a constant velocity, an object must have a constant speed and motion in a constant direction. Constant ...

. A flute's volume
Volume
Volume is the quantity of three-dimensional space enclosed by some closed boundary, for example, the space that a substance or shape occupies or contains....

 can generally be increased by making its resonator and tone holes larger. This is why a police whistle, a form of flute, is very wide for its pitch, and why a pipe organ can be far louder than a concert flute: a large organ pipe
Organ pipe
An organ pipe is a sound-producing element of the pipe organ that resonates at a specific pitch when pressurized air is driven through it. Each pipe is tuned to a specific note of the musical scale...

 can contain several cubic feet of air, and its tone hole may be several inches wide, while a concert flute's air stream measures a fraction of an inch across.

The air stream must be directed at the correct angle and velocity, or else the air in the flute will not vibrate. In fipple
Fipple
A fipple is a constricted mouthpiece common to many end-blown woodwind instruments, such as the tin whistle and the recorder. These instruments are known variously as fipple flutes, duct flutes, or tubular-ducted flutes.-How it works:...

d or ducted flutes, a precisely formed and placed windway will compress and channel the air to the labium ramp edge across the open window. In the pipe organ, this air is supplied by a regulated blower.

In non-fipple flutes, the air stream is shaped and directed by the player's lips, called the embouchure
Embouchure
The embouchure is the use of facial muscles and the shaping of the lips to the mouthpiece of woodwind instruments or the mouthpiece of the brass instruments.The word is of French origin and is related to the root bouche , 'mouth'....

. This allows the player a wide range of expression in pitch, volume, and timbre, especially in comparison to fipple
Fipple
A fipple is a constricted mouthpiece common to many end-blown woodwind instruments, such as the tin whistle and the recorder. These instruments are known variously as fipple flutes, duct flutes, or tubular-ducted flutes.-How it works:...

/ducted flutes. However, it also makes an end blown flute or transverse flute considerably more difficult for a beginner to produce a full sound on than a ducted flute, such as the recorder
Recorder
The recorder is a woodwind musical instrument of the family known as fipple flutes or internal duct flutes—whistle-like instruments which include the tin whistle. The recorder is end-blown and the mouth of the instrument is constricted by a wooden plug, known as a block or fipple...

. Transverse and end-blown flutes also take more air to play, which requires deeper breathing and makes circular breathing
Circular breathing
Circular breathing is a technique used by players of some wind instruments to produce a continuous tone without interruption. This is accomplished by breathing in through the nose while simultaneously pushing air out through the mouth using air stored in the cheeks.It is used extensively in playing...

 a considerably trickier proposition.

Generally, the quality called timbre or "tone colour" varies because the flute can produce harmonic
Harmonic
A harmonic of a wave is a component frequency of the signal that is an integer multiple of the fundamental frequency, i.e. if the fundamental frequency is f, the harmonics have frequencies 2f, 3f, 4f, . . . etc. The harmonics have the property that they are all periodic at the fundamental...

s in different proportions or intensities. The tone color can be modified by changing the internal shape of the bore, such as the conical taper, or the diameter-to-length ratio. A harmonic is a frequency that is a whole number multiple of a lower register, or "fundamental
Fundamental frequency
The fundamental frequency, often referred to simply as the fundamental and abbreviated f0, is defined as the lowest frequency of a periodic waveform. In terms of a superposition of sinusoids The fundamental frequency, often referred to simply as the fundamental and abbreviated f0, is defined as the...

" note of the flute. Generally the air stream is thinner (vibrating in more modes), faster (providing more energy to excite the air's resonance), and aimed across the hole less deeply (permitting a more shallow deflection of the air stream) in the production of higher harmonics or upper partials
Harmonic
A harmonic of a wave is a component frequency of the signal that is an integer multiple of the fundamental frequency, i.e. if the fundamental frequency is f, the harmonics have frequencies 2f, 3f, 4f, . . . etc. The harmonics have the property that they are all periodic at the fundamental...

.

Head joint geometry appears particularly critical to acoustic performance and tone, but there is no clear consensus on a particular shape amongst manufacturers. Acoustic impedance of the embouchure hole appears the most critical parameter. Critical variables affecting this acoustic impedance include: chimney length (hole between lip-plate and head tube), chimney diameter, and radii or curvature of the ends of the chimney and any designed restriction in the "throat" of the instrument, such as that in the Japanese Nohkan
Nohkan
The is a high pitched, Japanese bamboo transverse flute or . It is commonly used in traditional Imperial Noh and Kabuki theatre. The nohkan flute was created by Kan'ami and his son Zeami in the 15th century, during the time when the two were transforming the Noh theatre forms Dengaku and...

 Flute.

A study in which professional players were blindfolded could find no significant differences between instruments made from a variety of different metals. In two different sets of blind listening, no instrument was correctly identified in a first listening, and in a second, only the silver instrument was identified. The study concluded that there was "no evidence that the wall material has any appreciable effect on the sound color or dynamic range of the instrument".

Categories of flute


In its most basic form, a flute can be an open tube which is blown like a bottle. There are several broad classes of flutes. With most flutes, the musician blows directly across the edge of the mouthpiece. However, some flutes, such as the whistle
Whistle
A whistle or call is a simple aerophone, an instrument which produces sound from a stream of forced air. It may be mouth-operated, or powered by air pressure, steam, or other means...

, gemshorn
Gemshorn
The gemshorn is an instrument of the ocarina family that was historically made from the horn of a chamois, goat, or other suitable animal. The gemshorn receives its name from the German language, and means a chamois horn.-History:...

, flageolet
Flageolet
The flageolet is a woodwind musical instrument and a member of the fipple flute family. Its invention is ascribed to the 16th century Sieur Juvigny in 1581. There are two basic forms of the instrument: the French, having four finger holes on the front and two thumb holes on the back; and the...

, recorder
Recorder
The recorder is a woodwind musical instrument of the family known as fipple flutes or internal duct flutes—whistle-like instruments which include the tin whistle. The recorder is end-blown and the mouth of the instrument is constricted by a wooden plug, known as a block or fipple...

, tin whistle
Tin whistle
The tin whistle, also called the penny whistle, English Flageolet, Scottish penny whistle, Tin Flageolet, Irish whistle and Clarke London Flageolet is a simple six-holed woodwind instrument. It is an end blown fipple flute, putting it in the same category as the recorder, American Indian flute, and...

, tonette
Tonette
The Tonette is a small, end-blown flute made of plastic, which was once popular in American elementary music education. Though the Tonette has been superseded by the recorder in many areas, due to their price, durability and simplicity, you can still find plenty of plastic Tonettes as well as...

, fujara
Fujara
The fujara originated in central Slovakia as a large sophisticated folk shepherd's fipple flute of unique design. It is technically a contrabass instrument in the tabor pipe class....

, and ocarina
Ocarina
The ocarina is an ancient flute-like wind instrument. Variations do exist, but a typical ocarina is an enclosed space with four to twelve finger holes and a mouthpiece that projects from the body...

 have a duct that directs the air onto the edge (an arrangement that is termed a "fipple
Fipple
A fipple is a constricted mouthpiece common to many end-blown woodwind instruments, such as the tin whistle and the recorder. These instruments are known variously as fipple flutes, duct flutes, or tubular-ducted flutes.-How it works:...

"). These are known as fipple flutes. The fipple gives the instrument a distinct timbre which is different from non-fipple flutes and makes the instrument easier to play, but takes a degree of control away from the musician.

Another division is between side-blown (or transverse
Transverse flute
A transverse flute or side-blown flute is a flute which is held horizontally when played. The player blows "across" the embouchure hole, in a direction perpendicular to the flute's body length....

) flutes, such as the Western concert flute, piccolo
Piccolo
The piccolo is a half-size flute, and a member of the woodwind family of musical instruments. The piccolo has the same fingerings as its larger sibling, the standard transverse flute, but the sound it produces is an octave higher than written...

, fife
Fife (musical instrument)
A fife is a small, high-pitched, transverse flute that is similar to the piccolo, but louder and shriller due to its narrower bore. The fife originated in medieval Europe and is often used in military and marching bands. Someone who plays the fife is called a fifer...

, dizi, and bansuri
Bansuri
The bansuri is a transverse alto flute of Bangladesh, India and Nepal made from a single hollow shaft of bamboo with six or seven finger holes. An ancient musical instrument associated with cowherds and the pastoral tradition, it is intimately linked to the love story of Krishna and Radha, and is...

; and end-blown flute
End-blown flute
The end-blown flute or rim-blown flute is a keyless woodwind instrument played by directing an airstream against the sharp edge of the upper end of a tube. Unlike a recorder or tin whistle, there isn't a ducted flue voicing, also known as a fipple. Most rim-blown flutes are "oblique" flutes, being...

s
, such as the ney
Ney
The ney is an end-blown flute that figures prominently in Middle Eastern music. In some of these musical traditions, it is the only wind instrument used. It is a very ancient instrument, with depictions of ney players appearing in wall paintings in the Egyptian pyramids and actual neys being found...

, xiao
Xiao (flute)
The xiao is a Chinese vertical end-blown flute. It is generally made of dark brown bamboo . It is also sometimes called dòngxiāo , dòng meaning "hole." An ancient name for the xiāo is shùdí The xiao is a Chinese vertical end-blown flute. It is generally made of dark brown bamboo (called...

, kaval
Kaval
The kaval is a chromatic end-blown flute traditionally played throughout Azerbaijan, Turkey, Hungary, Bulgaria, Macedonia, Albania, Kosovo, southern Serbia , northern Greece , Romania , and Armenia...

, danso
Danso
The danso is a Korean notched, end-blown vertical bamboo flute used in Korean folk music. It is traditionally made of bamboo, but in the 20th century it has also been made of plastic....

, shakuhachi
Shakuhachi
The is a Japanese end-blown flute. It is traditionally made of bamboo, but versions now exist in ABS and hardwoods. It was used by the monks of the Fuke school of Zen Buddhism in the practice of...

, Anasazi flute
Anasazi flute
The Anasazi flute is the name of a pre-historic end-blown flute replicated today from findings at a massive cave in Prayer Rock Valley in Arizona, USA by an archaeological expedition led by Earl H. Morris in 1931...

, and quena
Quena
The quena is the traditional flute of the Andes. Usually made of bamboo or wood, it has 6 finger holes and one thumb hole and is open on both ends. To produce sound, the player closes the top end of the pipe with the flesh between his chin and lower lip, and blows a stream of air downward, along...

. The player of a side-blown flute uses a hole on the side of the tube to produce a tone, instead of blowing on an end of the tube. End-blown flutes should not be confused with fipple flutes such as the recorder
Recorder
The recorder is a woodwind musical instrument of the family known as fipple flutes or internal duct flutes—whistle-like instruments which include the tin whistle. The recorder is end-blown and the mouth of the instrument is constricted by a wooden plug, known as a block or fipple...

, which are also played vertically
Vertical flute
The vertical flute is either a rim-blown flute, a tubular duct flute, with tapered bore or a transversely blown flute, Giorgi Flute, designed to be played in an upright position...

 but have an internal duct to direct the air flow across the edge of the tone hole.

Flutes may be open at one or both ends. The ocarina
Ocarina
The ocarina is an ancient flute-like wind instrument. Variations do exist, but a typical ocarina is an enclosed space with four to twelve finger holes and a mouthpiece that projects from the body...

, xun, pan pipes, police whistle, and bosun's whistle are closed-ended. Open-ended flutes such as the concert flute and the recorder have more harmonics, and thus more flexibility for the player, and brighter timbres. An organ pipe may be either open or closed, depending on the sound desired.

Flutes may have any number of pipes or tubes, though one is the most common number. Flutes with multiple resonators may be played one resonator at a time (as is typical with pan pipes) or more than one at a time (as is typical with double flutes).

Flutes can be played with several different air sources. Conventional flutes are blown with the mouth, although some cultures use nose flute
Nose flute
The nose flute is a popular musical instrument played in Polynesia and the Pacific Rim countries. Other versions are found in Africa, China, and India.- Hawaii :In the North Pacific, in the Hawaiian islands the nose flute was a common courting instrument...

s. The flue pipe
Flue pipe
A flue pipe is an organ pipe that produces sound through the vibration of air molecules, in the same manner as a recorder or a whistle. Air under pressure is driven down a flue and against a sharp lip called a Labium, causing the column of air in the pipe to resonate at a frequency determined by...

s of organs
Pipe organ
The pipe organ is a musical instrument that produces sound by driving pressurized air through pipes selected via a keyboard. Because each organ pipe produces a single pitch, the pipes are provided in sets called ranks, each of which has a common timbre and volume throughout the keyboard compass...

, which are acoustically similar to duct flutes, are blown by bellows or fans.

The Western concert flutes



The Western concert flute
Western concert flute
The Western concert flute is a transverse woodwind instrument made of metal or wood. It is the most common variant of the flute. A musician who plays the flute is called a flautist, flutist, or flute player....

, a descendant of the 19th-century German flute, is a transverse flute that is closed at the top. An embouchure
Embouchure
The embouchure is the use of facial muscles and the shaping of the lips to the mouthpiece of woodwind instruments or the mouthpiece of the brass instruments.The word is of French origin and is related to the root bouche , 'mouth'....

 hole
is positioned near the top, across and into which the player blows. The flute has circular tone holes, larger than the finger holes of its baroque predecessors. The size and placement of tone holes, the key mechanism, and the fingering system used to produce the notes in the flute's range
Range (music)
In music, the range of a musical instrument is the distance from the lowest to the highest pitch it can play. For a singing voice, the equivalent is vocal range...

 were evolved from 1832 to 1847 by Theobald Boehm
Theobald Boehm
Theobald Böhm was a German inventor and musician, who perfected the modern Western concert flute and its improved fingering system...

, and greatly improved the instrument's dynamic range and intonation over those of its predecessors. With some refinements (and the rare exception of the Kingma system and other custom adapted fingering systems), Western concert flutes typically conform to Boehm's design, known as the Boehm system
Boehm System
The Boehm system is a system of keywork for the flute, created by inventor and flautist Theobald Boehm between 1831 and 1847.Prior to the development of the Boehm system, flutes were most commonly made of wood, with an inverse conical bore, eight keys, and tone holes that were small in size, and...

. Beginner's flutes are normally made of nickel silver or brass which is silver plated, while professionals use solid silver, gold, and sometimes platinum instruments. There are also modern wooden bodies instruments usually with silver or gold keywork. The wood is usually African Blackwood
African Blackwood
Dalbergia melanoxylon is a flowering plant in the family Fabaceae, native to seasonally dry regions of Africa from Senegal east to Eritrea and south to the Transvaal in South Africa....

.

The standard concert flute is pitched in the key of C and has a range of three octave
Octave
In music, an octave is the interval between one musical pitch and another with half or double its frequency. The octave relationship is a natural phenomenon that has been referred to as the "basic miracle of music", the use of which is "common in most musical systems"...

s starting from middle C
Middle C
C or Do is the first note of the fixed-Do solfège scale. Its enharmonic is B.-Middle C:Middle C is designated C4 in scientific pitch notation because of the note's position as the fourth C key on a standard 88-key piano keyboard...

 (or one half-step lower, when a B foot is attached to the instrument). This means that the concert flute is one of the highest common orchestral instruments, with the exception of the piccolo
Piccolo
The piccolo is a half-size flute, and a member of the woodwind family of musical instruments. The piccolo has the same fingerings as its larger sibling, the standard transverse flute, but the sound it produces is an octave higher than written...

, which plays an octave higher. G alto and C bass flutes are used occasionally, and are pitched a perfect fourth and an octave below the concert flute, respectively. Parts are written for alto flute more frequently than for bass . The contrabass
Contrabass flute
The contrabass flute is one of the rarer members of the flute family. It is used mostly in flute ensembles. Its range is similar to that of the regular concert flute, except that it is pitched two octaves lower; the lowest performable note is two octaves below middle C...

, double contrabass
Double contrabass flute
The double contrabass flute is the largest and lowest pitched metal flute in the world...

, and hyperbass
Hyperbass flute
The hyperbass flute is the largest and lowest pitched instrument in the flute family, with tubing reaching over 8 metres in length. It is pitched in C, four octaves below the concert flute , with its lowest note being C0), one octave below the lowest C on a...

 are other rare forms of the flute pitched two, three, and four octaves below middle C respectively.

Other sizes of flutes and piccolos are used from time to time. A rarer instrument of the modern pitching system is the treble G flute. Instruments made according to an older pitch standard, used principally in wind-band music, include Db piccolo, soprano flute
Soprano flute
The soprano flute is a type of flute, a musical instrument in the woodwind family. A few American publications for flute choir currently include a part for E flute, an instrument pitched a minor third higher than the standard C flute and is rather rarely found at present. In these publications, an...

 (the primary instrument, equivalent to today's concert C flute), F alto flute, and Bb bass flute.

The Indian bamboo flute



The bamboo flute is an important instrument in Indian classical music
Indian classical music
The origins of Indian classical music can be found in the Vedas, which are the oldest scriptures in the Hindu tradition. Indian classical music has also been significantly influenced by, or syncretised with, Indian folk music and Persian music. The Samaveda, one of the four Vedas, describes music...

, and developed independently of the Western flute. The Hindu
Hindu
Hindu refers to an identity associated with the philosophical, religious and cultural systems that are indigenous to the Indian subcontinent. As used in the Constitution of India, the word "Hindu" is also attributed to all persons professing any Indian religion...

 God Krishna
Krishna
Krishna is a central figure of Hinduism and is traditionally attributed the authorship of the Bhagavad Gita. He is the supreme Being and considered in some monotheistic traditions as an Avatar of Vishnu...

 is traditionally considered a master of the bamboo flute. The Indian flutes are very simple compared to the Western counterparts; they are made of bamboo
Bamboo
Bamboo is a group of perennial evergreens in the true grass family Poaceae, subfamily Bambusoideae, tribe Bambuseae. Giant bamboos are the largest members of the grass family....

 and are keyless.

Pannalal Ghosh
Pannalal Ghosh
Pannalal Ghosh , also known as Amulya Jyoti Ghosh, was a Bengali Indian flute player and composer. He was a disciple of Allauddin Khan, and is credited with giving the flute its status in Hindustani classical music....

, a legendary Indian flutist, was the first to transform a tiny folk instrument to a bamboo flute (32 inches long with seven finger holes) suitable for playing traditional Indian classical music, and also to bring to it the stature of other classical music instruments. The extra hole permitted madhyam to be played, which facilitates the meends (like M N, P M and M D) in several traditional raga
Raga
A raga is one of the melodic modes used in Indian classical music.It is a series of five or more musical notes upon which a melody is made...

s.

Pandit Raghunath Prasanna developed various techniques in the realm of flute playing so as to faithfully reproduce the subtleties and nuances of the Indian classical music. In fact, he was responsible to provide a strong base to his Gharana by training his own family members. Disciples of the family like Pt. Bhola nath Prasanna, Pt. Hari Prasad Chaurasia, Pt. Rajendra Prasanna globally known for their melodious music.

Indian concert flutes are available in standard pitches. In Carnatic music, the pitches are referred by numbers such as (assuming C as the tonic) 1 (for C), 1½ (C#), 2 (D), 2½ (D#), 3 (E), 4 (F), 4½ (F#), 5 (G), 5½ (G#), 6 (A), 6½ (A#) and 7 (B). However, the pitch of a composition is itself not fixed and hence any of the flutes may be used for the concert (as long as the accompanying instruments, if any, are tuned appropriately) and is largely left to the personal preference of the artist.

Two main varieties of Indian flutes are currently used. The first, the Bansuri
Bansuri
The bansuri is a transverse alto flute of Bangladesh, India and Nepal made from a single hollow shaft of bamboo with six or seven finger holes. An ancient musical instrument associated with cowherds and the pastoral tradition, it is intimately linked to the love story of Krishna and Radha, and is...

, has six finger holes and one embouchure hole, and is used predominantly in the Hindustani music of Northern India. The second, the Venu
Venu
The venu is a bamboo transverse flute used in the Carnatic music of South India. Although it is often called Carnatic flute or simply flute in English, venu is the instrument's ancient Sanskrit name...

 or Pullanguzhal, has eight finger holes, and is played predominantly in the Carnatic music
Carnatic music
Carnatic music is a system of music commonly associated with the southern part of the Indian subcontinent, with its area roughly confined to four modern states of India: Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala, and Tamil Nadu...

 of Southern India. Presently, the eight-holed flute with cross-fingering technique is common among many Carnatic flutists. Prior to this, the South Indian flute had only seven finger holes, with the fingering standard developed by Sharaba Shastri, of the Palladam school, at the beginning of the 20th century.
The quality of the flute's sound depends somewhat on the specific bamboo
Bamboo
Bamboo is a group of perennial evergreens in the true grass family Poaceae, subfamily Bambusoideae, tribe Bambuseae. Giant bamboos are the largest members of the grass family....

 used to make it, and it is generally agreed that the best bamboo grows in the Nagercoil
Nagercoil
Nagercoil is the 12th largest city in the southernmost Indian state of Tamil Nadu and a municipality and administrative headquarters of Kanyakumari District...

 area in South India.

The Chinese flute


In China there are many varieties of dizi (笛子), or Chinese flute, with different sizes, structures (with or without a resonance membrane) and number of holes (from 6 to 11) and intonations (different keys). Most are made of bamboo, but can come in wood, jade, bone, and iron. One peculiar feature of the Chinese flute is the use of a resonance membrane mounted on one of the holes that vibrates with the air column inside the tube. It gives the flute a bright sound.

Commonly seen flutes in the modern Chinese orchestra are the bangdi (梆笛), qudi (曲笛), xindi (新笛), and dadi (大笛). The bamboo flute played vertically is called the xiao (簫), which is a different category of wind instrument in China.

The Japanese flute


The Japanese flute, called the fue
Fue
Fue is the Japanese word for flute, and refers to a class of flutes native to Japan.Fue or FUE may also refer to:*The French University in Egypt*The Future University in Egypt*Follicular unit extraction, a technique of harvesting hair...

, , encompasses a large number of musical flutes from Japan, both of the end-blown and transverse varieties.

The sring


The sring
Sring
The sring is a shepherd's flute originating in Eastern Armenia . Sring is also the common term for end-blown flutes in general. These flutes are made either of a stroke bone, bamboo, wood from the apricot tree or cane and have seven or eight finger holes, producing a diatonic scale...

 (also called blul) is a relatively small, end-blown flute with a nasal tone quality and the pitch of a piccolo, found in the Caucasus region of Eastern Armenia. It is made of wood or cane, usually with seven finger holes and one thumb hole, producing a diatonic scale. The sring is used by shepherds to play various signals and tunes connected with their work, and also lyrical love songs called chaban bayaty, as well as programmatic pieces. The sring is also used in combination with the def
Daf
A daf is a frame drum used as a musical instrument in popular and classical music. The term daf is used in Iran / Kurdistan for a large drum that has a series of four interlinked rings in the frame. Daf is mostly used in Middle East, Iran, Armenia, Pakistan, Turkey, Tajikistan, Azerbaijan and ...

and the dohl to provide music for dancing. One Armenian musicologist believes the sring to be the most characteristic of national Armenian instruments.

See also

  • Diple
    Diple
    Diple, dvojnice, or dvojanke are a traditional woodwind musical instrument in Croatian, Montenegrin and Serbian music.-The flute:...

  • Irish flute
    Irish flute
    The term Irish Flute refers to a conical-bore, simple-system wooden flute of the type favored by classical flautists of the early 19th century, or to a flute of modern manufacture derived from this design...

  • Kaval
    Kaval
    The kaval is a chromatic end-blown flute traditionally played throughout Azerbaijan, Turkey, Hungary, Bulgaria, Macedonia, Albania, Kosovo, southern Serbia , northern Greece , Romania , and Armenia...

  • Native American flute
    Native American flute
    The Native American flute has achieved some measure of fame for its distinctive sound, used in a variety of New Age and world music recordings. The instrument was originally very personal; its music was played without accompaniment in courtship, healing, meditation, and spiritual rituals. Now it...

  • Palendag
    Palendag
    The palendag, also called Pulalu , Palandag , Pulala and Lumundeg is a type of Philippine bamboo flute, the largest one used by the Maguindanaon, a smaller type of this instrument is called the Hulakteb ....

  • Piccolo
    Piccolo
    The piccolo is a half-size flute, and a member of the woodwind family of musical instruments. The piccolo has the same fingerings as its larger sibling, the standard transverse flute, but the sound it produces is an octave higher than written...

  • Pipe and tabor
    Pipe and Tabor
    Pipe and tabor is a pair of instruments played by a single player, consisting of a three-hole pipe played with one hand, and a small drum played with the other...

  • Recorder
    Recorder
    The recorder is a woodwind musical instrument of the family known as fipple flutes or internal duct flutes—whistle-like instruments which include the tin whistle. The recorder is end-blown and the mouth of the instrument is constricted by a wooden plug, known as a block or fipple...

  • Tin whistle
    Tin whistle
    The tin whistle, also called the penny whistle, English Flageolet, Scottish penny whistle, Tin Flageolet, Irish whistle and Clarke London Flageolet is a simple six-holed woodwind instrument. It is an end blown fipple flute, putting it in the same category as the recorder, American Indian flute, and...

  • Washint
    Washint
    The washint is an end-blown wooden flute originally used by the Amhara people in Ethiopia. Traditionally, Amharic musicians would pass on their oral history through song accompanied by the washint as well as the krar, a six stringed lyre, and the masenqo, a one string fiddle..- Construction and...


External links


  • Creative Flute. You can find more than 1000 public domain free sheet music scores.
  • Flute4All. Information regarding flute techniques and technologies are found here.


A selection of historic flutes from around the world at The Metropolitan Museum of Art