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Types of Flutes


Students playing musical instruments
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The flute is considered one of the oldest man-made musical instruments. In 1995, archaeologists found in Eastern Europe a flute made of bone that dates back some 43,000 to 80,000 years old. Flutes are divided into two main categories:

Side-blown - Also known as a transverse flute, you hold it horizontally or sideways to play.

End-blown - It is played by blowing the end of a tube or pipe. End-blown flutes have two sub-categories:

  • Rim-blown Flutes - Also known as notched flutes, it is played by blowing across the top of a tube. The air is split because the tube has a notch or a sharp edge.
  • Duct Flutes - Also known as fipple flutes, is played by blowing air into a channel and the air travels across a sharp edge.

    When we speak of modern flutes however, there are six main types:
  1. Bass Flute in C - It evolved during the 1920s as a substitute for the saxophone in jazz music. It is pitched one octave lower than the ordinary flute.
  2. Alto Flute in G - This type of flute has a history of over a hundred years old. The alto flute is a transposing instrument, meaning that music written for it is a pitch different than what it actually sounds. It is notated a 4th above its actual sound.
  3. Tenor Flute - Also called the flute d'amore in B flat. This type of flute is believed to have been in existence since Medieval times. It is pitched one step lower than the C flute.
  4. Concert Flute in C - This type of flute's pitch is in C and its range is over three octaves, starting from middle C.
  5. Soprano Flute in E Flat - It has a range of three octaves, it is equivalent to a Concert C Flute.
  6. Treble Flute in G - It has a three octave range starting from g1. The G Treble Flute is usually responsible for the melody. It is also a transposing instrument, its pitch is a 4th lower than its actual sound.

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