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(open side-blown flute with fingerholes)
Tessitura of the standard C concert flute is C4–C7. Some have a key for low B3.
The Western concert flute is a family of transverse (side-blown) woodwind instruments made of metal or wood. It is the most common variant of the flute. A musician who plays the flute is called a flautist (in British English), flutist (in American English), or simply a flute player.
This type of flute is used in many ensembles, including concert bands, military bands, marching bands, orchestras, flute ensembles, and occasionally jazz bands and big bands. Other flutes in this family include the piccolo, the alto flute, and the bass flute. A large repertory of works has been composed for flute.
The flute is one of the oldest and most widely used wind instruments.The precursors of the modern concert flute were keyless wooden transverse flutes similar to modern fifes. These were later modified to include between one and eight keys for chromatic notes.
"Six-finger" D is the most common pitch for keyless wooden transverse flutes, which continue to be used today, particularly in Irish traditional music and historically informed performances of early music, including Baroque. During the Baroque era the traditional transverse flute was redesigned and eventually developed as the modern traverso.
Throughout the 11th, 12th, and 13th centuries, transverse flutes were very uncommon in Europe, with the recorder being more prominent. The transverse flute arrived in Europe from Asia via the Byzantine Empire, where it migrated to Germany and France. These flutes became known as "German flutes" to distinguish them from others, such as the recorder.The flute became used in court music, along with the viol, and was used in secular music, although only in France and Germany. It would not spread to the rest of Europe for nearly a century. The first literary appearance of the transverse flute was made in 1285 by Adenet le Roi in a list of instruments he played. After this, a period of 70 years follows in which few references to the flute are found.
Beginning in the 1470s, a military revival in Europe led to a revival in the flute. The Swiss army used flutes for signalling, and this helped the flute spread to all of Europe.In the late 16th century, flutes began to appear in court and theatre music (predecessors of the orchestra), and the first flute solos.
Following the 16th-century court music, flutes began appearing in chamber ensembles. These flutes were often used as the tenor voice. However, flutes varied greatly in size and range. This made transposition necessary, which led flautists to use Guidonian hexachords (used by singers and other musicians since their introduction in the 11th century) to transpose music more easily.
During the 16th and early 17th centuries in Europe, the transverse flute was available in several sizes, in effect forming a consort in much the same way recorders and other instruments were used in consorts. At this stage, the transverse flute was usually made in one section (or two for the larger sizes) and had a cylindrical bore. As a result, this flute had a rather soft sound and was used primarily in the "soft consort".
During the Baroque period, the transverse flute was redesigned. Now often called the traverso (from the Italian), it was made in three or four sections or joints (the head, upper-body, lower-body and foot joint).Additionally, the traverso was made with a conical bore from the head joint down. This conical bore design gave the flute a wider range and more penetrating sound without sacrificing the softer, expressive qualities. The head joint of the traverso contains one embouchure hole across which air is blown. Additionally, the two body pieces (upper-body and lower-body) each contain three equally sized finger holes. There is one key on the baroque flute and it is on the foot-joint. This key is usually made out of metal. The traverso was made with a variety of materials including various types of wood, most often boxwood, as well as ivory and metal. While very few flutes remain from the Renaissance and Medieval eras, many Baroque flutes have been preserved.
In addition to the change of materials used to make baroque flutes, this era often led to a change in the role of the flute within the ensemble. During the Renaissance and Medieval eras, the flute was often only used in ensembles and group performances, however with the onset of the Baroque era, the traverso began to take on a role as a soloist.
In the Baroque era, composers began to write more music for the flute such as operas, ballets, chamber music, and even solos.The first written work for the solo traverso was a piece written by Michael de la Barre entitled “Pièces pour la flute traversiere avec la basse-continue” in 1702. Other notable baroque flute composers include, Praetorius, Schütz, Rebillé, Quantz, J.S Bach, Telemann, Blavet, Vivaldi, Hotteterre, Handel and Frederick the Great. Aside from the composition of new music, several books were published during this time that dove into the study of the Baroque flute. In 1707, Jacques Martin Hotteterre wrote the first method book on playing the flute: Principes de la flûte traversière. The 1730s brought an increase in operatic and chamber music feature of flutes. The end of this era found the publication of Essay of a Method of Playing the Transverse Flute by Quantz.
When compared to the modern flute, the Baroque flute requires less airflow, and produces much softer, mellower sounds: often blending in with other instruments in the orchestra.Additionally, when compared to the modern flute, the baroque flute requires the player to adjust with each note in order to make sure it is in tune. More adjustments are needed when playing notes outside of the D major scale. The flutist can change this pitch through small adjustments in the mouth and by turning the flute towards or away from the player. This need for continued adjustment was alleviated with the creation of more modern flutes.
With the onset of the Romantic era, flutes began to lose favor: symphony orchestras rather featured brass and strings.However, with the onset of the 21st century, there has been a rise in the popularity of the Baroque flute, most notably led by flutist Barthold Kuijken, and others such as Frans Bruggen, Emi Ferguson, Peter Holtslag. These baroque flutists freqeuntly perform in popular Baroque Orchestras that travel the world playing music using instruments from this period, as well as mimicking the style of music and performance techniques during this era.
In the nineteenth century Theobald Boehm began to make flutes. Keys were added to the flute, and the taper was changed to strengthen its lower register.
With the ability to record sound (beginning in the 1890s), flutes began to regain a popularity not seen since the classical era. Recordings of flute music became increasingly common, with professional flautists spending a great deal of time recording music. The 20th century brought the first recordings of Baroque music on modern flutes.
The dimensions and key system of the modern western concert flute and its close relatives are almost completely the work of the great flautist, composer, acoustician, and silversmith Theobald Boehm, who patented his system in 1847. Minor additions to and variations on his key system are common, but the acoustical structure of the tube remains almost exactly as he designed it. Major innovations were the change to metal instead of wood, large straight tube bore, "parabolic" tapered headjoint bore, very large tone holes covered by keys, and the linked key system, which simplified fingering somewhat. The most substantial departures from Boehm's original description are the universal elimination of the "crutch" for the left hand and almost universal adoption of Briccialdi's thumb key mechanism and a closed-standing G♯ key over an additional G♯ tone hole. Boehm's key system, with minor variations, remains regarded as the most effective system of any modern woodwind, allowing trained instrumentalists to perform with facility and extraordinary velocity and brilliance in all keys. The modern flute has three octaves plus C7–C♯7–D7 in the fourth octave. Many modern composers used the high D♯7; while such extremes are not commonly used, the modern flute can perform up to an F♯7 in its fourth octave.
The Meyer flute was a popular flute in the mid 19th century. Including and derived from the instruments built by H.F. Meyer from 1850 to the late 1890s, it could have up to 12 keys and was built with head joints of either metal-lined ivory or wood. The final form was a combination of a traditional keyed flute and the Viennese flute, and became the most common throughout Europe and America. This form had 12 keys, a body of wood, a head joint of metal and ivory, and was common at the end of the century.
Quite at the opposite end of the spectrum, in terms of the complexity of the key system developed by Boehm, was the Giorgi flute, an advanced form of the ancient holed flute. Patented in 1897, the Giorgi flute was designed without any mechanical keys, though the patent allows for the addition of keys as options. Giorgi enabled the performer to play equally true in all musical keys, as does the Boehm system. Giorgi flutes are now rarities, found in museums and private collections. The underlying principles of both flute patterns are virtually identical, with tone holes spaced as required to produce a fully chromatic scale. The player, by opening and closing holes, adjusts the effective length of the tube, and thus the rate of oscillation, which defines the audible pitch.
In the 1950s, Albert Cooper modified the Boehm flute to make playing modern music easier. The flute was tuned to A440, and the embouchure hole was cut in a new way to change the timbre. These flutes became the most used flutes by professionals and amateurs.
In the 1980s, Johan Brögger modified the Boehm flute by fixing two major problems that had existed for nearly 150 years: maladjustment between certain keys and problems between the G and B♭ keys. The result was non-rotating shafts, which gave a quieter sound and less friction on moving parts. Also, the modifications allowed for springs to be adjusted individually, and the flute was strengthened. The Brögger flute is only made by the Brannen Brothers and Miyazawa Flutes.
The flute is a transverse (or side-blown) woodwind instrument that is closed at the blown end. It is played by blowing a stream of air over the embouchure hole. The pitch is changed by opening or closing keys that cover circular tone holes (there are typically 16 tone holes). Opening and closing the holes produces higher and lower pitches. Higher pitches can also be achieved through over-blowing, like most other woodwind instruments. The direction and intensity of the airstream also affects the pitch, timbre, and dynamics.
The piccolo is also commonly used in Western orchestras and bands. Alto flutes, pitched a fourth below the standard flute, and bass flutes, an octave below, are also used occasionally.
The standard concert flute, also called C flute, Boehm flute, silver flute, or simply flute, is pitched in C and has a range of about three and a half to four octaves starting from the note C4 (middle C). The flute's highest pitch is usually given as either C7 or (sometimes) D7; however, more experienced flautists are able to reach up to F♯7. Modern flutes may have a longer foot joint, a B-footjoint, with an extra key to reach B3.
From high to low, the members of the concert flute family include the following:
Each of the above instruments has its own range. The piccolo reads music in C (like the standard flute), but sounds one octave higher. The alto flute is in the key of G, and the low register extends to the G below middle C; its highest note is a high G (4 ledger lines above the treble staff). The bass flute is an octave lower than the concert flute, and the contrabass flute is an octave lower than the bass flute.
Less commonly seen flutes include the treble flute in G, pitched one octave higher than the alto flute; soprano flute, between the treble and concert; and tenor flute or flûte d'amour in B♭, A or A♭[ citation needed ] pitched between the concert and alto.
The lowest sizes (larger than the bass flute) have all been developed in the 20th century; these include the contra-alto flute (pitched in G, one octave below the alto), the subcontrabass flute (pitched in G, two octaves below the alto), and the double contrabass flute (pitched in C, one octave below the contrabass). The flute sizes other than the concert flute and piccolo are sometimes called harmony flutes.
Concert flutes have three parts: the headjoint, body, and foot joint. 17.3 mm (0.68 in) from the centre of the embouchure hole for best scale. Gross, temporary adjustments of pitch are made by moving the headjoint in and out of the headjoint tenon. The flautist makes fine or rapid adjustments of pitch and timbre by adjusting the embouchure and/or position of the flute in relation to himself or herself, i.e., side and out.The headjoint is sealed by a cork (or plug that may be made out of various plastics, metals, or less commonly woods). It is possible to make fine adjustments to tuning by adjusting the headjoint cork, but usually it is left in the factory-recommended position around
The head-joint tube is tapered slightly towards the closed end. Theobald Boehm described the shape of the taper as parabolic. Examination of his flutes did not reveal a true parabolic curve, but the taper is more complex than a truncated cone. The head joint is the most difficult part to construct because the lip plate and tone hole have critical dimensions, edges, and angles that vary slightly between manufacturers and in individual flutes, especially where they are handmade. 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 radiuses or curvature of the ends of the chimney. Generally, the shorter the hole, the more quickly a flute can be played; the longer the hole, the more complex the tone. Finding a particularly good example of a flute is dependent on play-testing. Head joint upgrades are usually suggested as a way to improve the tone of an instrument.
Cheaper student models may be purchased with a curved head to allow younger children with shorter arms to play them.
Less expensive flutes are usually constructed of brass, polished and then silver-plated and lacquered to prevent corrosion, or silver-plated nickel silver (nickel-bronze bell metal, 63% Cu, 29% Zn, 5.5% Ni, 1.25% Ag, .75% Pb, alloyed As, Sb, Fe, Sn). Flutes that are more expensive are usually made of more precious metals, most commonly solid sterling silver (92.5% silver), and other alloys including French silver (95% silver, 5% copper), "coin silver" (90% silver), or Britannia silver (95.8% silver). It is reportedthat old Louis Lot French flutes have a particular sound by nature of their specific silver alloy. Gold/silver flutes are even more expensive. They can be either gold on the inside and silver on the outside, or vice versa. All-gold and all-platinum flutes also exist. Flutes can also be made out of wood, with African blackwood (grenadilla or Dalbergia melanoxylon ) being the most common today. Cocuswood was formerly used, but this is hard to obtain today. Wooden flutes were far more common before the early 20th century. The silver flute was introduced by Boehm in 1847, but did not become common until later in the 20th century. William S. Haynes, a flute manufacturer in Boston, Massachusetts, United States, told Georges Barrère that in 1905 he made one silver flute to every 100 wooden flutes, but in the 1930s, he made one wooden flute to every 100 silver flutes.
Unusual tubing materials include glass, carbon fiber, and palladium.
Professionals tend to play more expensive flutes. However, the idea that different materials can significantly affect sound quality is under some contention, and some argue that different metals make less difference in sound quality than different flautists playing the same flute. Even Verne Q. Powell, a flute-maker, admitted (in Needed: A Gold Flute or a Gold Lip?) that "As far as tone is concerned, I contend that 90 percent of it is the man behind the flute".
Most metal flutes are made of alloys that contain significant amounts of copper or silver. These alloys are biostatic because of the oligodynamic effect and thus suppress growth of unpleasant molds, fungi, and bacteria.
Good quality flutes are designed to prevent or reduce galvanic corrosion between the tube and key mechanism.[ citation needed ]
Tone holes are stopped by pads constructed of fish skin (gold-beater's skin) over felt or silicone rubber on some very low-cost or "ruggedized" flutes. Accurate shimming of pads on professional flutes to ensure pad sealing is very demanding of technician time. In the traditional method, pads are seated on paper shims sealed with shellac. A recent development is "precision" pads fitted by a factory-trained technician. Student flutes are more likely to have pads bedded in thicker materials like wax or hot-melt glue. Larger-sized closed-hole pads are also held in with screws and washers. Synthetic pads appear more water-resistant but may be susceptible to mechanical failure (cracking).[ citation needed ]
The keys can be made of the same or different metals as the tubing, nickel silver keys with silver tubing, for example. Flute key axles (or "steels") are typically made of drill rod or stainless steel. These mechanisms need periodic disassembly, cleaning, and relubrication, typically performed by a trained technician, for optimal performance. James Phelan, a flute maker and engineer, recommends single-weight motor oil (SAE 20 or 30) as a key lubricant demonstrating superior performance and reduced wear, in preference to commercial key oils).
The keywork is constructed by lost-wax castings and machining, with mounting posts and ribs silver-soldered to the tube. On the best flutes, the castings are forged to increase their strength.
Most keys have needle springs made of phosphor bronze, stainless steel, beryllium copper, or a gold alloy. The B thumb keys typically have flat springs. Phosphor bronze is by far the most common material for needle springs because it is relatively inexpensive, makes a good spring, and is resistant to corrosion. Unfortunately, it is prone to metal fatigue. Stainless steel also makes a good spring and is resistant to corrosion. Gold springs are found mostly in high-end flutes because of gold's cost.[ citation needed ]
An early version of Antonio Vivaldi's La tempesta di mare flute concerto was possibly written around 1713–1716, and would thus have been the first concerto for the instrument, as well as the earliest scoring of a high F6, a problematic note for the Baroque flute of that period.
Flutes were rarely used in early jazz. Drummer and bandleader Chick Webb was among the first to use flutes in jazz, beginning in the late 1930s. Frank Wess was among the first noteworthy flautists in jazz, in the 1940s. [ better source needed ] Since Theobald Boehm's fingering is used in saxophones as well as in concert flutes, many flute players "double" on saxophone for jazz and small ensembles and vice versa.
Since 1950, a number of notable performers have used flutes in jazz. Frank Foster and Frank Wess (Basie band), Jerome Richardson (Jones/Lewis big band) and Lew Tabackin (Akiyoshi/Tabackin big band) used flutes in big band contexts. In small band contexts, notable performers included Bud Shank, Herbie Mann, Yusef Lateef, Mélanie De Biasio, Joe Farrell, Rahsaan Roland Kirk, Charles Lloyd, Hubert Laws and Moe Koffman. Several modal jazz and avant-garde jazz performers have utilized the flute including Eric Dolphy, Sam Rivers and James Spaulding.
Jethro Tull is probably the best-known rock group to make regular use of the flute, which is played by its frontman, Ian Anderson.An alto flute is briefly heard in The Beatles song "You've Got to Hide Your Love Away", played by John Scott. The Beatles would later feature a flute more prominently in their single "Penny Lane".
Other groups that have used the flute in pop and rock songs include The Moody Blues, Chicago, Australian groups Men at Work and King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard, the Canadian progressive rock group Harmonium, Dutch bands Focus and early Golden Earring, and the British groups Traffic, Genesis, Gong (although its flautist/saxophonist Didier Malherbe was French), Hawkwind, King Crimson, Camel, and Van der Graaf Generator.
American singer Lizzo is also well known for playing the flute. Her instrument is named Sasha Flute, which has its own Instagram account.
The bassoon is a woodwind instrument in the double reed family, which plays in the tenor and bass ranges. It is composed of six pieces, and is usually made of wood. It is known for its distinctive tone color, wide range, versatility, and virtuosity. It is a non-transposing instrument and typically its music is written in the bass and tenor clefs, and sometimes in the treble. There are two forms of modern bassoon: the Buffet and Heckel systems. It is typically played while sitting using a seat strap, but can be played while standing if the player has a harness to hold the instrument. Sound is produced by rolling both lips over the reed and blowing direct air pressure to cause the reed to vibrate. Its fingering system can be quite complex when compared to those of other instruments. Appearing in its modern form in the 19th century, the bassoon figures prominently in orchestral, concert band, and chamber music literature, and is occasionally heard in pop, rock, and jazz settings as well. One who plays a bassoon is called a bassoonist.
The clarinet is a musical instrument in the woodwind family. The instrument has a nearly cylindrical bore and a flared bell, and uses a single reed to produce sound.
The flute is a family of classical music instrument in the woodwind group. Like all woodwinds, flutes are aerophones, meaning they make sound by vibrating a column of air. However, unlike woodwind instruments with reeds, a flute is a reedless wind instrument that produces its sound from the flow of air across an opening. According to the instrument classification of Hornbostel–Sachs, flutes are categorized as edge-blown aerophones. A musician who plays the flute is called a flautist or flutist.
The oboe or called oboj, is a type of double reed woodwind instrument. Oboes are usually made of wood, but may also be made of synthetic materials, such as plastic, resin, or hybrid composites. The most common oboe plays in the treble or soprano range.
The recorder is a family of woodwind musical instruments in the group known as internal duct flutes: flutes with a whistle mouthpiece, also known as fipple flutes. A recorder can be distinguished from other duct flutes by the presence of a thumb-hole for the upper hand and seven finger-holes: three for the upper hand and four for the lower. It is the most prominent duct flute in the western classical tradition.
The saxophone is a type of single-reed woodwind instrument with a conical body, usually made of brass. As with all single-reed instruments, sound is produced when a reed on a mouthpiece vibrates to produce a sound wave inside the instrument's body. The pitch is controlled by opening and closing holes in the body to change the effective length of the tube. The holes are closed by leather pads attached to keys operated by the player. Saxophones are made in various sizes and are almost always treated as transposing instruments. Saxophone players are called saxophonists.
The Boehm system is a system of keywork for the flute, created by inventor and flautist Theobald Boehm between 1831 and 1847.
The tin whistle, also called the penny whistle, is a simple six-holed woodwind instrument. It is a type of fipple flute, putting it in the same class as the recorder, Native American flute, and other woodwind instruments that meet such criteria. A tin whistle player is called a whistler. The tin whistle is closely associated with Irish traditional music and Celtic music. Other names for the instrument are the flageolet, English flageolet, Scottish penny whistle, tin flageolet, or Irish whistle.
The piccolo is a half-size flute and a member of the woodwind family of musical instruments. Sometimes referred to as a ‘baby flute’, the modern piccolo has most of the same fingerings as its larger sibling, the standard transverse flute, but the sound it produces is an octave higher than written. This has given rise to the name ottavino, by which the instrument is called in Italian and thus also in scores of Italian composers.
The ocarina is a wind musical instrument; it is a type of vessel flute. Variations exist, but a typical ocarina is an enclosed space with four to twelve finger holes and a mouthpiece that projects from the body. It is traditionally made from clay or ceramic, but other materials are also used, such as plastic, wood, glass, metal, or bone.
Overblowing is the manipulation of supplied air through a wind instrument that causes the sounded pitch to jump to a higher one without a fingering change or the operation of a slide. Overblowing may involve a change in the air pressure, in the point at which the air is directed, or in the resonance characteristics of the chamber formed by the mouth and throat of the player.
A fife is a small, high-pitched, transverse aerophone, that is similar to the piccolo. The fife originated in medieval Europe and is often used in fife and drum corps, military units, and marching bands. Someone who plays the fife is called a fifer. The word fife comes from the German Pfeife, meaning pipe, which comes from the Latin word pipare.
The alto flute is an instrument in the Western concert flute family, the second-highest member below the standard C flute after the uncommon flûte d'amour. It is the third most common member of its family after the standard C flute and the piccolo. It is characterized by its rich, mellow tone in the lower portion of its range. It is a transposing instrument in G, and uses the same fingerings as the C flute.
The bass flute is a member of the flute family. It is in the key of C, pitched one octave below the concert flute. Despite its name, its playing range makes it the tenor member of the flute family. Because of the length of its tube, it is usually made with a J-shaped head joint, which brings the embouchure hole within reach of the player. Its soft dynamic range means in large ensembles it is easily obscured unless amplified or lightly scored; however its unique timbre in the low register can be very effective, especially in solo works, small ensembles, and flute choirs. The "bass flute in F" produced by Kotato & Fukushima is a contra-alto flute.
Theobald Böhm was a German inventor and musician, who perfected the modern Western concert flute and improved its fingering system. He was a Bavarian court musician, a virtuoso flautist and a renowned composer.
The Irish flute is a conical-bore, simple-system wooden flute of the type favoured by classical flautists of the early 19th century, or to a flute of modern manufacture derived from this design. The majority of traditional Irish flute players use a wooden, simple-system flute.
The Boehm system for the clarinet is a system of clarinet keywork, developed between 1839 and 1843 by Hyacinthe Klosé and Auguste Buffet jeune. The name is somewhat deceptive; the system was inspired by Theobald Boehm's system for the flute, but necessarily differs from it, since the clarinet overblows at the twelfth rather than the flute's octave. Boehm himself was not involved in its development.
The five-key flute is a musical instrument once common in school marching bands, and composed of wood with metal keys. It is a transposing instrument, most commonly in A♭, this variant being known as the B♭ flute, named after its lowest note and sounding a minor sixth below the orchestral piccolo. The next most common variants are the E♭ piccolo, sounding a fifth above the B♭ flute, and the F flute, sounding a fifth below the B♭ flute. The E♭ piccolo is used for ornamentation in melodies and the F flute is used as a bass instrument in flute band harmonies. They are now often found in British military corps of drums, often playing various regimental marches.
The western concert flute family has a wide range of instruments.
Charles Nicholson (1795–1837), was a Liverpool-born flautist and composer, who performed regularly in London. He was soloist at many of the Philharmonic Society Concerts from 1816-1836, and first flautist with the principal theater orchestras. He toured extensively in Britain, but never on the Continent. Besides giving classes to many students, he wrote tutors for flute-playing which were published throughout the 19th century.