Flute wikipedia

Flute wikipedia DEFAULT


This article is about the whole family of instruments. For the flute commonly used in orchestras and bands, see Western concert flute. For other uses, see Flute (disambiguation).

Musical instrument of the woodwind family

The flute is a family of musical instruments in the woodwind group. Unlike woodwind instruments with reeds, a flute is an aerophone or 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.[1] A musician who plays the flute can be referred to as a flute player, flautist, flutist or, less commonly, fluter or flutenist.

Flutes are the earliest known identifiable musical instruments, as paleolithic examples with hand-bored holes have been found. A number of flutes dating to about 43, to 35, years ago have been found in the Swabian Jura region of present-day Germany. These flutes demonstrate that a developed musical tradition existed from the earliest period of modern human presence in Europe.[2][3] While the oldest flutes currently known were found in Europe, Asia, too, has a long history with the instrument that has continued into the present day. In China, a playable bone flute was discovered, dated approximately years old.[4] The Americas also had an ancient flute culture, with instruments found in Caral, Peru, dating back years [5] and in Labrador dating back approximately years.[6]

Historians have found the bamboo flute has a long history as well, especially in China and India. Flutes have been discovered in historical records and artworks starting in the Zhou dynasty. The oldest written sources reveal the Chinese were using the kuan (a reed instrument) and hsio (or xiao, an end-blown flute, often of bamboo) in the 12th–11th centuries B.C., followed by the chi (or ch'ih) in the 9th century B.C. and the yüeh in the 8th century B.C.[7] Of these, the chi is the oldest documented cross flute or transverse flute, and was made from bamboo.[7][8]

The cross flute (Sanskrit: vāṃśī) was "the outstanding wind instrument of ancient India," according to Curt Sachs.[9] He said that religious artwork depicting "celestial music" instruments was linked to music with an "aristocratic character."[9] The Indian bamboo cross flute, Bansuri, was sacred to Krishna, and he is depicted in Hindu art with the instrument.[9] In India, the cross flute appeared in reliefs from the 1st century A.D. at Sanchi and Amaravati from the 2nd–4th centuries A.D.[9][10]

Although there had been flutes in Europe in prehistoric times, in more recent millennia the flute was absent from the continent until its arrival from Asia, by way of "North Africa, Hungary, and Bohemia," according to historian Alexander Buchner.[11] The end-blown flute began to be seen in illustration in the 11th century.[11] Transverse flutes entered Europe through Byzantium and were depicted in Greek art about A.D.[12] The transverse flute had spread into Europe by way of Germany, and was known as the German flute.[12]

Etymology and terminology[edit]

The word flute first entered the English language during the Middle English period, as floute,[13] or else flowte, flo(y)te,[14] possibly from Old Frenchflaute and from Old Provençalflaüt,[13] or else from Old French fleüte, flaüte, flahute via Middle High Germanfloite or Dutchfluit. The English verb flout has the same linguistic root, and the modern Dutch verb fluiten still shares the two meanings.[15] Attempts to trace the word back to the Latin flare (to blow, inflate) have been pronounced "phonologically impossible" or "inadmissable".[14] The first known use of the word flute was in the 14th century.[16] According to the Oxford English Dictionary, this was in Geoffrey Chaucer's The Hous of Fame, c[14]

Today, a musician who plays any instrument in the flute family can be called a flutist[17] or flautist[18] or simply a flute player. Flutist dates back to at least , the earliest quotation cited by the Oxford English Dictionary. Flautist was used in by Nathaniel Hawthorne in The Marble Faun, after being adopted during the 18th century from Italy (flautista, itself from flauto), like many musical terms in England since the Italian Renaissance. Other English terms, now virtually obsolete, are fluter (15th–19th centuries)[19][20][21] and flutenist (17th–18th centuries).[15][22]


Further information: Paleolithic flutes and Prehistoric music

12th century art, Chinese women playing flutes

Chinese women playing flutes, from the 12th-century Song dynasty remake of the Night Revels of Han Xizai, originally by Gu Hongzhong (10th century)

The oldest flute ever discovered may be a fragment of the femur of a juvenile cave bear, with two to four holes, found at Divje Babe in Slovenia and dated to about 43, years ago. However, this has been disputed.[23][24] In another flute dated back to at least 35, years ago was discovered in Hohle Fels cave near Ulm, Germany.[25] The five-holed flute has a V-shaped mouthpiece and is made from a vulture wing bone. The researchers involved in the discovery officially published their findings in the journal Nature, in August [26] The discovery was also the oldest confirmed find of any musical instrument in history,[27] until a redating of flutes found in Geißenklösterle cave revealed them to be even older with an age of 42, to 43, years.[3]

The flute, one of several found, was found in the Hohle Fels cavern next to the Venus of Hohle Fels and a short distance from the oldest known human carving.[28] 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".[29] 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.[27]

Bone flute made of a goat's tibia, 11th–13th century A.D.

A three-holed flute, &#;cm long, made from a mammoth tusk (from the Geißenklösterle cave, near Ulm, in the southern German Swabian Alb and dated to 30, to 37, years ago)[30] was discovered in , and two flutes made from swan bones excavated a decade earlier (from the same cave in Germany, dated to circa 36, years ago) are among the oldest known musical instruments.

A playable 9,year-old Gudi (literally, "bone flute") was excavated from a tomb in Jiahu along with 29 defunct twins,[31] made from the wing bones of red-crowned cranes with five to eight holes each, in the Central Chinese province of Henan.[32] The earliest extant Chinese transverse flute is a chi (篪) flute discovered in the Tomb of Marquis Yi of Zeng at the Suizhou site, Hubei province, China. It dates from BC, of the later Zhou Dynasty.[33] It is fashioned of lacquered 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, compiled and edited by Confucius, according to tradition.

The earliest written reference to a flute is from a Sumerian-language cuneiform tablet dated to c. – BCE.[34] Flutes are also mentioned in a recently translated tablet of the Epic of Gilgamesh, an epic poem whose development spanned the period of approximately – BCE.[35] Additionally, a set of cuneiform tablets knows as the "musical texts" provide precise tuning instructions for seven scale of a stringed instrument (assumed to be a Babylonian lyre). One of those scales is named embūbum, which is an Akkadian word for "flute".[35]

The Bible, in Genesis , cites Jubal as being the "father of all those who play the ugab and the kinnor". The former Hebrew term is believed by some to refer 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).[36] Elsewhere in the Bible, the flute is referred to as "chalil" (from the root word for "hollow"), in particular in 1 Samuel , 1 Kings , Isaiah and , and Jeremiah [37] Archeological digs in the Holy Land have discovered flutes from both the Bronze Age (c. – BCE) and the Iron Age (– BCE), the latter era "witness[ing] the creation of the Israelite kingdom and its separation into the two kingdoms of Israel and Judea."[36]

Some early flutes were made out of tibias (shin bones). The flute has also always been an essential part of Indian culture and mythology,[38] and the cross flute believed by several accounts to originate in India[39][40] as Indian literature from BCE has made vague references to the cross flute.[41]


A flute produces sound when a stream of air directed across a hole in the instrument creates a vibration of air at the hole.[42][43] The airstream creates a Bernoulli or siphon. This excites the air contained in the usually cylindrical resonant cavity within the flute. The flutist changes the pitch of the sound produced by opening and closing holes in the body of the instrument, thus changing the effective length of the resonator and its corresponding resonant frequency. By varying the air pressure, a flutist can also change the pitch by causing the air in the flute to resonate at a harmonic rather than the fundamental frequency without opening or closing any of the holes.[44]

Head joint geometry appears particularly critical to acoustic performance and tone,[45] but there is no clear consensus on a particular shape amongst manufacturers. Acoustic impedance of the embouchure hole appears the most critical parameter.[46] 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 Flute.

A study in which professional flutists were blindfolded could find no significant differences between flutes made from a variety of metals.[47] In two different sets of blind listening, no flute was correctly identified in a first listening, and in a second, only the silver flute 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".

Types of flutes[edit]

Main article: Fipple flutes

In its most basic form, a flute is an open tube which is blown into. After focused study and training, players use controlled air-direction to create an airstream in which the air is aimed downward into the tone hole of the flute's headjoint. There are several broad classes of flutes. With most flutes, the musician blows directly across the edge of the mouthpiece, with 1/4 of their bottom lip covering the embouchure hole. However, some flutes, such as the whistle, gemshorn, flageolet, recorder, tin whistle, tonette, fujara, and ocarina have a duct that directs the air onto the edge (an arrangement that is termed a "fipple"). 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) flutes, such as the Western concert flute, piccolo, fife, dizi and bansuri; and end-blown flutes, such as the ney, xiao, kaval, danso, shakuhachi, Anasazi flute and quena. 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, which are also played vertically 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, 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 flutes. The flue pipes of organs, which are acoustically similar to duct flutes, are blown by bellows or fans.

Western transverse flutes[edit]

Main article: Western concert flute

Wooden one-keyed transverse flute[edit]

Usually in D, wooden transverse flutes were played in European classical music mainly in the period from the early 18th century to the early 19th century. As such, the instrument is often indicated as baroque flute. Gradually marginalized by the Western concert flute in the 19th century, baroque flutes were again played from the late 20th century as part of the historically informed performance practice.

Western concert flute[edit]

The Western concert flute, a descendant of the medieval German flute, is a transverse treble flute that is closed at the top. An embouchure hole is positioned near the top across and into which the flutist blows. The flute has circular tone holes larger than the finger holes of its baroque predecessors. The size and placement of tone holes, key mechanism, and fingering system used to produce the notes in the flute's range were evolved from to by Theobald Boehm, who helped greatly improve the instrument's dynamic range and intonation over its predecessors.[48] 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. Beginner's flutes are made of nickel, silver, or brass that is silver-plated, while professionals use solid silver, gold, and sometimes even platinum flutes. There are also modern wooden-bodied flutes usually with silver or gold keywork. The wood is usually African Blackwood.

The standard concert flute is pitched in C and has a range of three octaves starting from middle C or one half step lower when a B foot is attached. This means that the concert flute is one of the highest common orchestra and concert band instruments.

Western concert flute variants[edit]

Center: Piccolo. Right: larger flute

The piccolo plays an octave higher than the regular treble flute. Lower members of the flute family include the G alto and C bass flutes that are used occasionally, and are pitched a perfect fourth and an octave below the concert flute, respectively. The contrabass, double contrabass, and hyperbass 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 G treble flute. Instruments made according to an older pitch standard, used principally in wind-band music, include D piccolo, E soprano flute (Keyed a minor 3rd above the standard C flute), F alto flute, and B bass flute.

Indian flutes[edit]

Further information: Bansuri and Venu

An eight-holed classical Indian bamboo flute.

The bamboo flute is an important instrument in Indian classical music, and developed independently of the Western flute. The Hindu God Lord Krishna 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 and are keyless.[49]

Two main varieties of Indian flutes are currently used. The first, the Bansuri (बांसुरी), has six finger holes and one embouchure hole, and is used predominantly in the Hindustani music of Northern India. The second, the Venu or Pullanguzhal, has eight finger holes, and is played predominantly in the Carnatic music 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.[50]

The quality of the flute's sound depends somewhat on the specific bamboo used to make it, and it is generally agreed that the best bamboo grows in the Nagercoil area of South India.[51]

In Bharata Natya ShastraSarana Chatushtai, Avinash Balkrishna Patwardhan developed a methodology to produce perfectly tuned flutes for the ten 'thatas' currently present in Indian Classical Music.[52]

In a regional dialect of Gujarati, a flute is also called Pavo.[53] Some people can also play pair of flutes (Jodiyo Pavo) simultaneously.

Chinese flutes[edit]

Main article: Chinese flutes

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. This membrane is called a di mo, which is usually a thin tissue paper. 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.

Korean flutes[edit]

Main article: Daegeum

The Korean flute, called the daegeum, 대금, is a large bamboo transverse flute used in traditional Korean music. It has a buzzing membrane that gives it a unique timbre.[clarification needed]

Japanese flutes[edit]

Main article: Fue

The Japanese flute, called the fue, 笛 (hiragana: ふえ), encompasses a large number of musical flutes from Japan, include the end-blown shakuhachi and hotchiku, as well as the transverse gakubue, komabue, ryūteki, nōkan, shinobue, kagurabue and minteki.

Sodina and suling[edit]

The sodina is an end-blown flute found throughout the island state of Madagascar, located in the Indian Ocean off southeastern Africa. One of the oldest instruments on the island, it bears close resemblance to end-blown flutes found in Southeast Asia and particularly Indonesia, where it is known as the suling, suggesting the predecessor to the sodina was carried to Madagascar in outrigger canoes by the island's original settlers emigrating from Borneo.[54] An image of the most celebrated contemporary sodina flutist, Rakoto Frah (d. ), was featured on the local currency.[55]


The sring (also called blul) is a relatively small, end-blown flute with a nasal tone quality[56] found in the Caucasus region of Eastern Armenia. It is made of wood or cane, usually with seven finger holes and one thumb hole,[56] producing a diatonic scale. One Armenian musicologist believes the sring to be the most characteristic of national Armenian instruments.[57]

Breathing Techniques[edit]

There are several different means by which flautists may breathe in order to blow air that flows through the instrument to produce sound. Two techniques that players may use are diaphragmatic breathing or circular breathing. Diaphragmatic breathing enables the musician to optimize air intake, minimizing the number of breaths needed while playing. Circular breathing is a technique whereby musicians can breathe in through the nose and push air out through the mouth, enabling them to produce a continuous sound through the instrument.

See also[edit]


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  13. ^ ab"Flute". The Free Dictionary By Farlex. Retrieved 25 May
  14. ^ abcSimpson, J. A. and Weiner, E. S. C. (eds.), "flute, n.1", Oxford English Dictionary, second edition. 20 vols. Oxford: Clarendon Press; New York: Oxford University Press, ISBN&#;
  15. ^ abSmith, Fenwick. "Is it flutist or flautist?". Archived from the original on 16 January Retrieved 5 January
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  21. ^"Fluter". Random House Dictionary and Collins English Dictionary. Retrieved 5 January
  22. ^"Flutenist". The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia. Retrieved 5 January
  23. ^Tenenbaum, David (June ). "Neanderthal jam". The Why Files. University of Wisconsin, Board of Regents. Retrieved 14 March
  24. ^Flute History, UCLA. Retrieved June
  25. ^Ghosh, Pallab. (25 June ) BBC: 'Oldest musical instrument' found. BBC News. Retrieved on
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  27. ^ ab"'Oldest musical instrument' found". BBC news. 25 June Retrieved 26 June
  28. ^"Music for cavemen". MSNBC. 24 June Archived from the original on 26 June Retrieved 26 June
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  30. ^"Archeologists discover ice age dwellers' flute". CBC Arts. Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. 30 December Archived from the original on 28 May Retrieved 21 April
  31. ^The bone age flute. BBC. 23 September
  32. ^Zhang, Juzhong; Xiao, Xinghua; Lee, Yun Kuen (December ). "The early development of music. Analysis of the Jiahu bone flutes". Antiquity. 78 (): – doi/sx Archived from the original on 3 June
  33. ^Goodman, Howard L. (). Xun Xu and the politics of precision in third-century AD China. Brill Publishers. p.&#; ISBN&#;.
  34. ^Goss, Clint (). "The Development of Flutes in Europe and Asia". Flutopedia. Retrieved 8 January
  35. ^ abGoss, Clint (). "Flutes of Gilgamesh and Ancient Mesopotamia". Flutopedia. Retrieved 8 January
  36. ^ abJudith Cohen, "Review of 'Music in Ancient Israel/Palestine: Archaeological, Written, and Comparative Sources', by Joachim Braun". Min-Ad: Israel Studies in Musicology Online. Vol. 3. (). http://www.biu.ac.il/hu/mu/min-ad04/BraunRevpdf
  37. ^Strong's Hebrew Concordance, "chalil". http://biblesuite.com/hebrew/htm
  38. ^Hoiberg, Dale; Ramchandani, Indu (). Students' Britannica India. Mumbai: Popular Prakashan. p.&#; ISBN&#;.
  39. ^Chaturvedi, Mamta (). How to Play Flute & Shehnai. New Delhi: Diamond Pocket Books (P) Ltd. p.&#;7. ISBN&#;.
  40. ^Morse, Constance (). Music and Music-makers. New Hampshire: Ayer Publishing. p.&#;7. ISBN&#;.
  41. ^Arvey, Verna (). Choreographic Music for the Dance. London: Read Country Books. p.&#; ISBN&#;.
  42. ^Flute acoustics, UNSW. Retrieved June
  43. ^Wolfe, Joe. "Introduction to flute acoustics". UNSW Music Acoustics. Retrieved 18 January
  44. ^"The Flute". HyperPhysics. Retrieved 20 March
  45. ^Spell, Eldred (). "Anatomy of a Headjoint". The Flute Worker. ISSN&#; Archived from the original on 16 November
  46. ^Wolfe, Joe. "Acoustic impedance of the flute". Flute acoustics: an introduction.
  47. ^Widholm, G.; Linortner, R.; Kausel, W.; Bertsch, M. (). "Silver, gold, platinum—and the sound of the flute". Proc. International Symposium on Musical Acoustics: – Archived from the original on 13 March
  48. ^Boehm, Theobald. (). The Flute and Flute-Playing in Acoustical, Technical, and Artistic Aspects, translated by Dayton C. Miller, with a new introduction by Samuel Baron. New York: Dover Publications. ISBN&#;, pp. 8–
  49. ^Arnold, Alison (). The Garland Encyclopedia of World Music. London: Taylor & Francis. p.&#; ISBN&#;.
  50. ^Caudhurī, Vimalakānta Rôya; Roychaudhuri, Bimalakanta (). The Dictionary of Hindustani Classical Music. Kolkata: Motilal Banarsidass Publication. ISBN&#;.
  51. ^Abram, David; Guides, Rough; Edwards, Nick; Ford, Mike; Sen, Devdan; Wooldridge, Beth (). The Rough Guide to South India 3. London: Rough Guides. pp.&#;, ISBN&#;.
  52. ^Paper authored by Avinash Balkrishna Patwardhan unveiling the fundamental principles governing Indian classical music by research on Bharata Muni's Natya Shastra at the National Symposium on Acoustics (), ITC Sangeet Research Academy, Calcutta, India.
  53. ^https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AatluOKqQJM
  54. ^Shaw, Geo (8 November ). "Music among the Malagasy". The Musical Standard. 17 (): Retrieved 15 November
  55. ^Maminirina, Rado (15 July ). "Le billet Rakoto Frah vaut de l'or". Express de Madagascar (in French). Archived from the original on 9 May Retrieved 7 October
  56. ^ abPahlevanian, Alina. (). "Armenia §I: Folk Music, 3: Epics", in The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, second edition, edited by Stanley Sadie and John Tyrrell. London: Macmillan Publishers.
  57. ^Komitas, Vardapet. (). Grakan nshkhark' Komitas Vardapeti beghun grch'ēn: npast mē Komitas Vardapeti srbadasman harts'in, edited by Abel Oghlukian. Montreal: Ganatahayots' Aṛajnordarani "K'ristonēakan Usman ew Astuatsabanut'ean Kedron".


  • Buchanan, Donna A. "Bulgaria §II: Traditional Music, 2: Characteristics of Pre-Socialist Musical Culture, –, (iii): Instruments". The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, second edition, edited by Stanley Sadie and John Tyrrell. London: Macmillan Publishers.
  • Crane, Frederick. Extant Medieval Musical Instruments: A Provisional Catalogue by Types. Iowa City: University of Iowa Press. ISBN&#;
  • Galway, James. Flute. Yehudi Menuhin Music Guides. London: Macdonald. ISBN&#; (cloth); ISBN&#; (pbk.) New York: Schirmer Books. ISBN&#;X Reprinted , London: Kahn & Averill London: Khan & Averill ISBN&#;
  • Phelan, James, The Complete Guide to the [Flute and Piccolo], second edition. [S.l.]: Burkart-Phelan, Inc., ISBN&#;
  • Putnik, Edwin. The Art of Flute Playing. Evanston, Illinois: Summy-Birchard Inc. Revised edition , Princeton, New Jersey and Evanston, Illinois. ISBN&#;
  • Toff, Nancy. The Flute Book: A Complete Guide for Students and Performers. New York: Charles's Scribners Sons. ISBN&#; Newton Abbot: David & Charles. ISBN&#; Second Edition , New York: Oxford University Press. ISBN&#;
  • Wye, Trevor. Proper Flute Playing: A Companion to the Practice Books. London: Novello. ISBN&#;
  • Maclagan, Susan J. "A Dictionary for the Modern Flutist", , Lanham, Maryland, USA: Scarecrow Press. ISBN&#;

External links[edit]

Wikimedia Commons has media related to Flutes.
Look up flute in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.
  • Ardal Powell. "Flute." Grove Music Online. Oxford Music Online. Oxford University Press. (by subscription)
  • Essay on the Jiahu flutes from the Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History at The Metropolitan Museum of Art
  • A selection of historic flutes from around the world at The Metropolitan Museum of Art
    • Walking Stick Flute and Oboe, Georg Henrich Scherer, Butzbach, ca. –57
    • Glass flute, Claude Laurent, Paris,
    • Porcelain flute, Saxony, –
    • Pair of ivory flutes by Johann Wilhelm Oberlender, mid 18th century, Nuremberg
    • Flute by Garion, Paris, ca. –
  • Conard, Nicholas J.; Malina, Maria; Münzel, Susanne C. (August ). "New flutes document the earliest musical tradition in southwestern Germany". Nature. (): – BibcodeNaturC. doi/nature PMID&#; S2CID&#;
  • Flute at Curlie
  • Flute acoustics Resources on flute acoustics from the University of New South Wales.
  • Folk flutes (Polish folk musical instruments)
Sours: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flute

Double flute

The double flute is an ancient category of wind instrument, a set of flutes that falls under more than one modern category in the Hornbostel Sachs system of musical instrument classification. The flutes may be double because they have parallel pipes that are connected with a single duct. They may be "double vertical flutes" without a duct. There is also a double-transverse flutes.[1]

Double flutes are not the same as double pipes, which are reed instruments. Flutes use resonant pipes to make their sound, where pipes using vibrating reeds. The sounding mechanism for the two types of instrument is different.

Double flutes can be divided into instruments that consist of a melody pipe matched with a drone pipe, and chord flutes in which the instruments can play the same melody at the same time in two different pitches.[1]

Some forms of double flute include:

Some forms that are reed pipes, not double flutes include:

  • Aztec double flute. Uses an air duct to produce sound through the holes in the top of each pipe.


  1. ^ abSibyl Marcuse (). A Survey of Musical Instruments. New York: Harper & Row. pp.&#;– ISBN&#;.
Sours: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Double_flute
  1. Glock laser
  2. California 2016 540
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Wind instrument (type of flute)

For other uses, see Ney (disambiguation).

Persian ney with 6 holes.jpg

Persian ney with six holes (one on the back)

Classification End-blown
Ney Range.png

The ney (Persian: ناي&#;) in arabic Nay (ناي ), 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. The ney has been played continually for 4,–5, years[citation needed], making it one of the oldest musical instruments still in use.[citation needed]

The Arabs ney consists of a hollow cylinder with finger-holes. Sometimes a brass, horn, or plastic mouthpiece is placed at the top to protect the wood from damage, and to provide a sharper and more durable edge to blow at. The ney consists of a piece of hollow cane or giant reed with five or six finger holes and one thumb hole. Modern neys may be made instead of metal or plastic tubing. The pitch of the ney varies depending on the region and the finger arrangement. A highly skilled ney player, called neyzen, can reach more than three octaves, though it is more common to have several "helper" neys to cover different pitch ranges or to facilitate playing technically difficult passages in other dastgahs or maqams.

In Romanian, this instrument is called "fluier", the word nai[1] is applied to a curved pan flute while an end-blown flute resembling the Arab ney is referred to as caval.[2]


Ney, from a 19th-century Qajun Iraq tile

The typical Persian ney has six holes, one of which is on the back. Arabic neys normally have seven holes, six in front and one thumb-hole in the back.

The interval between the holes is a semitone, although microtones (and broader pitch inflections) are achieved via partial hole-covering, changes of embouchure, or positioning and blowing angle.[3] Microtonal inflection is common and crucial to various traditions of taqsim (improvisation in the same scale before a piece is played).

Neys are constructed in various keys. In the Arab system, there are seven common ranges: the longest and lowest-pitched is the Rast which is roughly equivalent to C in the Western equal temperament system, followed by the Dukah in D, the Busalik in E, the Jaharka in F, the Nawa in G, the Hussayni in A, and the Ajam in B (or B♭), with the Dukah Ney being the most common. Advanced players will typically own a set of several neys in various keys, although it is possible (albeit difficult) to play fully chromatically on any instrument. A slight exception to this rule is found in the extreme lowest range of the instrument, where the fingering becomes quite complex and the transition from the first octave (fundamental pitches) to the second is rather awkward.

Kargı Düdük[edit]

Gargy-tuyduk (Karghy tuiduk) is a long reed flute whose origin, according to legend, is connected with Alexander of Macedonia, and a similar instrument existed in ancient Egypt. Kargı in Turkish means reed (Arundo donax, also known as Giant reed). The sound of the gargy-tuyduk has much in common with the two-voiced kargyra. During the playing of the gargy-tuyduk the melody is clearly heard, while the lower droning sound is barely audible. The allay epic songs have been described by the Turkologist N. Baskakov who divides them into three main types:

  • a) Kutilep kayla, in which the second sound is a light drone.
  • b) Sygyrtzip kayla, with a second whistling sound like the sound of a flute.
  • c) Kargyrlap kayla, in which the second sound can be defined as hissing.[4] The sound of the Turkmen gargy-tuyduk is most like the Altay Kargyrkip kayla. The garg-tuyduk can have six finger holes and a length of &#;mm or five finger holes and a length of &#;mm. The range of the garg-tuyduk includes three registers:
  • 1) The lowest register – "non-working" – is not used during the playing of a melody.
  • 2) The same as on the "non-working" register but an octave higher.
  • 3) High register from mi of the second octave to ti.

The Pamiri Nay[edit]

The Pamiri nay is a transverse flute made of wood or, in Eastern Badakhshan, eagle bone. Although the name is similar to the Arabic end-blown nay, it might well be that this side-blown flute is more related to Chinese flutes such as the dizi, perhaps through a Mongol link.[5] It is used for solo melodies as well as with orchestras and for vocal accompaniment. One of the main uses of the nay is for the most original form of the traditional performance ‘falaki’. These are brief melodic sessions which can express complaints against destiny, the injustice of heaven or exile to distant places, and sentiments such as the sorrow of a mother separated from her daughter, the sorrow of a lover torn from her/his beloved, etc.[6]

Other forms with similar names[edit]

The ney ( nej ) of Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, and Karakalpakstan is a transverse flute that can be made of different materials, often indicated by a prefix in the name. The agach-nai is a wooden flute, the garau-nai a bamboo flute, the misnai a flute made of sheet iron and the brindgzhi-nai a brass flute .

The Romanian pan flute nai consists of at least 20 to over 30 pipes closed at the bottom, which are connected to each other in a slight arc.

See also[edit]


  1. ^nai in Dicţionarul explicativ al limbii române, Academia Română, Institutul de Lingvistică "Iorgu Iordan", Editura Univers Enciclopedic,
  2. ^caval in Dicţionarul explicativ al limbii române, Academia Română, Institutul de Lingvistică "Iorgu Iordan", Editura Univers Enciclopedic,
  3. ^Satilmis Yayla. "Fingering of two popular scales on two common Turkish ney types". fromnorway.net. Archived from the original on Retrieved CS1 maint: bot: original URL status unknown (link)
  4. ^N. Baskakov, Altay folklore and literature Gorno-Altaysk, , p.II
  5. ^"Archived copy"(PDF). Archived from the original(PDF) on Retrieved CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  6. ^"Archived copy". Archived from the original on Retrieved CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)

General bibliography[edit]

  • Effat, Mahmoud (). Beginner's Guide to the Nay. Translated by Jon Friesen; originally published in Arabic in Pitchphork Music. ISBN&#;
  • Marwan Hassan (). Kawala & Nay: Die Ur-Flöten der Menschheit: Bauen, stimmen, pflegen und spielen. [German: Explaining How to Build and Play the Kawala, Saluang, or Ghab and Ney-Flute]

External links[edit]

Wikimedia Commons has media related to Ney.
Sours: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ney
What are FOURTH FLUTES and SIXTH FLUTES? with Tom de Vries - Team Recorder

Recorder (musical instrument)

Woodwind musical instrument

For other uses, see Recorder (disambiguation).

The recorder is a family of woodwindmusical 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.[1]

Recorders are made in various sizes with names and compasses roughly corresponding to various vocal ranges. The sizes most commonly in use today are the soprano (aka "descant", lowest note C5), alto (aka "treble", lowest note F4), tenor (lowest note C4) and bass (lowest note F3). Recorders were traditionally constructed from wood or ivory. Modern professional instruments are almost invariably of wood, often boxwood; student and scholastic recorders are commonly of molded plastic. The recorders' internal and external proportions vary, but the bore is generally reverse conical (i.e. tapering towards the foot) to cylindrical, and all recorder fingering systems make extensive use of forked fingerings.

The recorder is first documented in Europe in the Middle Ages, and continued to enjoy wide popularity in the Renaissance and Baroque periods, but was little used in the Classical and Romantic periods. It was revived in the 20th century as part of the historically informed performance movement, and became a popular amateur and educational instrument. Composers who have written for the recorder include Monteverdi, Lully, Purcell, Handel, Vivaldi, Telemann, Johann Sebastian Bach, Paul Hindemith and Luciano Berio.[2] There are many professional recorder players who demonstrate the full solo range of the instrument, and a large community of amateurs.[3]

The sound of the recorder is often described as clear and sweet,[2] and has historically been associated with birds and shepherds. It is notable for its quick response and its corresponding ability to produce a wide variety of articulations. This ability, coupled with its open finger holes, allow it to produce a wide variety of tone colors and special effects. Acoustically, its tone is relatively pure and, when the edge is positioned in the center of the airjet, odd harmonics predominate in its sound (when the edge is decidedly off-center, an even distribution of harmonics occurs).[4][2]


The instrument has been known by its modern English name at least since the 14th century. David Lasocki reports the earliest use of "recorder" in the household accounts of the Earl of Derby (later King Henry IV) in , which register i. fistula nomine Recordour (one pipe called 'Recordour').[5]

By the 15th century, the name had appeared in English literature. The earliest references are in John Lydgate's Temple of Glas (c.&#;): These lytylle herdegromys Floutyn al the longe day..In here smale recorderys, In floutys. ('These little shepherds fluting all day long on these small recorders, on flutes.')[6] and in Lydgate's Fall of Princes (c. –): Pan, god off Kynde, with his pipes seuene, / Off recorderis fond first the melodies. ('Pan, god of Nature, with his pipes seven, / of recorders found first the melodies.')[7][8]


The instrument name recorder derives from the Latin recordārī (to call to mind, remember, recollect), by way of Middle Frenchrecorder (before ; to remember, to learn by heart, repeat, relate, recite, play music)[9][10] and its derivative MFrrecordeur (c.&#;; one who retells, a minstrel).[11][12] The association between the various, seemingly disparate, meanings of recorder can be attributed to the role of the medieval jongleur in learning poems by heart and later reciting them, sometimes with musical accompaniment.[10]

The English verb record (from Middle French recorder, early 13th century) meant 'to learn by heart, to commit to memory, to go over in one's mind, to recite' but it was not used in English to refer to playing music until the 16th century, when it gained the meaning 'silently practicing a tune' or 'sing or render in song' (both almost exclusively referring to songbirds), long after the recorder had been named.[9] Thus, the recorder cannot have been named after the sound of birds. The name of the instrument is also uniquely English: in Middle French there is no equivalent noun sense of recorder referring to a musical instrument.[13]

Partridge indicates that the use of the instrument by jongleurs led to its association with the verb: recorder the minstrel's action, a recorder the minstrel's tool.[5][14] The reason we know this instrument as the recorder and not one of the other instruments played by the jongleurs is uncertain.

Flute and recorder[edit]

The introduction of the Baroque recorder to England by a group of French professionals in popularized the French name for the instrument, flute douce, or simply flute, a name previously reserved for the transverse instrument. Until about , the names recorder and flute overlapped, but from to the late s in England, the word flute always meant recorder.[5] In the s, as the transverse flute overtook the recorder in popularity, English adopted the convention already present in other European languages of qualifying the word flute, calling the recorder variously the "common flute", "common English-flute", or simply "English flute" while the transverse instrument was distinguished as the "German flute" or simply "flute".[15] Until at least , some writers still used flute to mean recorder.[5]

Other languages[edit]

Until the mid 18th century, musical scores written in Italian refer to the instrument as flauto, whereas the transverse instrument was called flauto traverso. This distinction, like the English switch from recorder to flute, has caused confusion among modern editors, writers and performers.

Indeed, in most European languages, the first term for the recorder was the word for flute alone. In the present day, cognates of the word flute, when used without qualifiers, remain ambiguous and may refer to either the recorder, the modern concert flute, or other non-western flutes. Starting in the s, these languages began to add qualifiers to specify this particular flute.[5]


Since the 15th century, a variety of sizes of recorder have been documented, but a consistent terminology and notation for the different sizes was not formulated until the 20th century.

Modern recorders[edit]

Today, recorder sizes are named after the different vocal ranges. This is not, however, a reflection of sounding pitch, and serves primarily to denote the pitch relationships between the different instruments. Groups of recorders played together are referred to as "consorts". Recorders are also often referred to by their lowest sounding note: "recorder in F" refers to a recorder with lowest note F, in any octave.

The table in this section shows the standard names of modern recorders in F and C and their respective ranges. Music composed after the modern revival of the recorder most frequently uses soprano, alto, tenor, and bass recorders, although sopranino and great bass are also fairly common.[16] Consorts of recorders are often referred to using the terminology of organ registers: 8′ (8 foot) pitch referring to a consort sounding as written, 4′ pitch a consort sounding an octave above written, and 16′ a consort sounding an octave below written. The combination of these consorts is also possible.[17]

As a rule of thumb, the tessitura of a baroque recorder lies approximately one octave above the tessitura of the human voice type after which it is named. For example, the tessitura of a soprano voice is roughly C4–C6, while the tessitura of a soprano recorder is C5–C7.

Modern variations include standard British terminology, due to Arnold Dolmetsch, which refers to the recorder in C5 (soprano) as the descant and the recorder in F4 (alto) as the treble. As conventions and instruments vary, especially for larger and more uncommon instruments, it is often practical to state the recorder's lowest note along with its name to avoid confusion.


Modern recorder parts are notated in the key they sound in. Parts for alto, tenor and contrabass recorders are notated at pitch, while parts for sopranino, soprano, bass, and great bass are typically notated an octave below their sounding pitch. As a result, soprano and tenor recorders are notated identically; alto and sopranino are notated identically; and bass and contrabass recorders are notated identically. Octave clefs may be used to indicate the sounding pitch, but usage is inconsistent.

Rare sizes and notations include the garklein, which may be notated two octaves below its sounding pitch, and the sub-contrabass, which may be notated an octave above its sounding pitch.[clarification needed]

Historical recorders[edit]

The earliest known document mentioning "a pipe called Recordour" dates from [18] Historically, recorders were used to play vocal music and parts written for other instruments, or for a general instrument. As a result, it was frequently the performers' responsibility to read parts not specifically intended for the instrument and to choose appropriate instruments. When such consorts consisted only of recorders, the pitch relationships between the parts were typically preserved, but when recorders were combined with other instruments, octave discrepancies were often ignored.[19]

Recorder consorts in the 16th century were tuned in fifths and only occasionally employed tuning by octaves as seen in the modern C, F recorder consort. This means that consorts could be composed of instruments nominally in B , F, C, G, D, A and even E, although typically only three or four distinct sizes were used simultaneously. To use modern terminology, these recorders were treated as transposing instruments: consorts would be read identically to a consort made up of F3, C4, and G4 instruments. This is made possible by the fact that adjacent sizes are separated by fifths, with few exceptions. These parts would be written using chiavi naturali, allowing the parts to roughly fit in the range of a single staff, and also in the range of the recorders of the period. (see Renaissance structure)

Transpositions ("registers"), such as C3–G3–D4, G3–D4–A4, or B 2–F3–C4, all read as F3–C4–G4 instruments, were possible as described by Praetorius in his Syntagma Musicum. Three sizes of instruments could be used to play four-part music by doubling the middle size, e.g. F3–C4–C4–G4, or play six-part music by doubling the upper size and tripling the middle size, e.g. F3–C4–C4–C4–G4–G4.[20] Modern nomenclature for such recorders refers to the instruments' relationship to the other members of consort, rather than their absolute pitch, which may vary. The instruments from lowest to highest are called "great bass", "bass", "basset", "tenor", "alto", and "soprano". Potential sizes include: great bass in F2; bass in B 2 or C3; basset in F3 or G3; tenor in C4 or D4; alto in F4, G4 or A4; and soprano in C5 or D5.[21]

The alto in F4 is the standard recorder of the Baroque, although there is a small repertoire written for other sizes.[22][23] In 17th-century England, smaller recorders were named for their relationship to the alto and notated as transposing instruments with respect to it: third flute (A4), fifth flute (soprano; C5), sixth flute (D5), and octave flute (sopranino; F5).[24][25] The term flute du quart, or fourth flute (B 4), was used by Charles Dieupart, although curiously he treated it as a transposing instrument in relation to the soprano rather than the alto. In Germanic countries, the equivalent of the same term, Quartflöte, was applied both to the tenor in C4, the interval being measured down from the alto in F4, and to a recorder in C5 (soprano), the interval of a fourth apparently being measured up from an alto in G4.[5] Recorder parts in the Baroque were typically notated using the treble clef, although they may also be notated in French violin clef (G clef on the bottom line of the staff).

In modern usage, recorders not in C or F are alternatively referred to using the name of the closest instrument in C or F, followed by the lowest note. For example, a recorder with lowest note G4 may be known as a G-alto or alto in G, a recorder with lowest note D5 (also "sixth flute") as a D-soprano or soprano in D, and a recorder in G3 as a G-bass or G-basset. This usage is not totally consistent. Notably, the baroque recorder in D4 is not commonly referred to as a D-tenor nor a D-alto; it is most commonly referred to using the historical name "voice flute".



Some hardwoods used to make recorders
  • maplewood (Acer pseudoplatanus, specific gravity )
  • pearwood (Pyrus communis, specific gravity ),
  • plumwood (Prunus domestica, specific gravity ),
  • Castello "boxwood" (Calycophyllum multiflorum, specific gravity ),
  • Zapatero "boxwood" (Gossypiospermum praecox, specific gravity ),
  • olivewood (Olea europaea, specific gravity ),
  • European boxwood (Buxus sempervirens, specific gravity ),
  • rosewood (including tulipwood (Dalbergia decipularis, specific gravity ),
  • palisander (Dalbergia retusa, specific gravity ),
  • kingwood (Dalbergia cearensis, specific gravity ), etc.),
  • ebony (Diospyros perrieri, specific gravity ), or
  • grenadilla (Dalbergia melanoxylon, specific gravity )

Recorders have historically been constructed from hardwoods and ivory, sometimes with metal keys. Since the modern revival of the recorder, plastics have been used in the mass manufacture of recorders, as well as by a few individual makers.[26]

Today, a wide variety of hardwoods are used to make recorder bodies.[27][28][29][30][31][32] Relatively fewer varieties of wood are used to make recorder blocks, which are often made of red cedar, chosen because of its rot resistance, ability to absorb water, and low expansion when wet. A recent innovation is the use of synthetic ceramics in the manufacture of recorder blocks.[33]

Larger recorders[edit]

Some recorders have tone holes too far apart for a player's hands to reach, or too large to cover with the pads of the fingers. In either case, more ergonomically placed keys can be used to cover the tone holes. Keys also allow the design of longer instruments with larger tone holes. Keys are most common in recorders larger than the alto. Instruments larger than the tenor need at least one key so the player can cover all eight holes. Keys are sometimes also used on smaller recorders to allow for comfortable hand stretch, and acoustically improved hole placement and size.[34]

When playing a larger recorder, a player may not be able to simultaneously reach the keys or tone holes with the fingers and reach the windway with the mouth. In this case, a bocal may be used to allow the player to blow into the recorder while maintaining a comfortable hand position.[35] Alternatively, some recorders have a bent bore that positions the windway closer to the keys or finger holes so the player can comfortably reach both. Instruments with a single bend are known as "knick" or bent-neck recorders.[36]

Modern developments[edit]

Some newer designs of recorder are now being produced. Recorders with a square cross-section may be produced more cheaply and in larger sizes than comparable recorders manufactured by turning.[37][38] Another area is the development of instruments with a greater dynamic range and more powerful bottom notes. These modern designs make it easier to be heard in concertos. Finally, recorders with a downward extension of a semitone are becoming available; such instruments can play a full three octaves in tune.[39]

Recorder with German fingering. Note that the 4th finger-hole is larger than the 5th.

German fingering[edit]

In the early 20th century, Peter Harlan developed a recorder with apparently simpler fingering, called German fingering. A recorder designed for German fingering has a hole five that is smaller than hole four, whereas baroque and neo-baroque recorders have a hole four that is smaller than hole five. The immediate difference in fingering is for F (soprano) or B (alto), which on a neo-baroque instrument must be fingered 0 4– With German fingering, this becomes a simpler 0 4 – – –. Unfortunately, however, this makes many other chromatic notes too out of tune to be usable.[40] German fingering became popular in Europe, especially Germany, in the s, but rapidly became obsolete in the s as people began to treat the recorder more seriously, and the limitations of German fingering became more widely appreciated.[41] Recorders with German fingering are today manufactured exclusively for educational purposes.


Modern recorders are most commonly pitched at A=&#;Hz, but among serious amateurs and professionals, other pitch standards are often found. For the performance of baroque music, A=&#;Hz is the de facto standard,[42] while pre-Baroque music is often performed at A=&#;Hz or A=&#;Hz.[43] These pitch standards are intended to reflect the broad variation in pitch standards throughout the history of the recorder. In various regions, contexts, and time periods, pitch standards have varied from A=~&#;Hz to A=~&#;Hz. The pitches A=&#;Hz and A=&#;Hz, a semitone lower and a semitone higher than A=&#;Hz respectively, were chosen because they may be used with harpsichords or chamber organs that transpose up or down a semitone from A=[44] These pitch standards allow recorder players to collaborate with other instrumentalists at a pitch other than A=&#;Hz.

Some recorder makers produce instruments at pitches other than the three standard pitches above, and recorders with interchangeable bodies at different pitches.[45][46]


Cross-section of the head of a recorder. A) block B) windway C) labium

Basic sound production[edit]

The recorder produces sound in the manner of a whistle or an organ flue pipe. In normal play, the player blows into the windway (B), a narrow channel in the head joint, which directs a stream of air across a gap called the window, at a sharp edge called the labium (C). The air stream alternately travels above and below the labium, exciting standing waves in the bore of the recorder, and producing sound waves that emanate away from the window. Feedback from the resonance of the tube regulates the pitch of the sound.

In recorders, as in all woodwind instruments, the air column inside the instrument behaves like a vibrating string, to use a musical analogy, and has multiple modes of vibration. These waves produced inside the instrument are not travelling waves, like those the ear perceives as sound, but rather stationary standing waves consisting of areas of high pressure and low pressure inside the tube, called nodes. The perceived pitch is the lowest, and typically loudest, mode of vibration in the air column. The other pitches are harmonics, or overtones. Players typically describe recorder pitches by the number of nodes in the air column. Notes with a single node are in the first register, notes with two nodes in the second register, etc. As the number of nodes in the tube increases, the number of notes a player can produce in a given register decreases because of the physical constraint of the spacing of the nodes in the bore. On a Baroque recorder, the first, second, and third registers span about a major ninth, a major sixth, and a minor third respectively.

Harmonic profile[edit]

The recorder sound, for the most part, lacks high harmonics and odd harmonics predominate in its sound with the even harmonics being almost entirely absent, although the harmonic profile of the recorder sound varies from recorder to recorder, and from fingering to fingering.[4][2] As a result of the lack of high harmonics, writers since Praetorius have remarked that it is difficult for the human ear to perceive correctly the sounding octave of the recorder.


As in organ flue pipes, the sounding pitch of duct type whistles is affected by the velocity of the air stream as it impinges upon the labium. The pitch generally increases with velocity of the airstream, up to a point.[47]

Air speed can also be used to influence the number of pressure nodes in a process called over blowing. At higher airstream velocities, lower modes of vibration of the air column become unstable, resulting in a change of register.

The air stream is affected by the shaping of the surfaces in the head of the recorder (the "voicing"), and the way the player blows air into the windway. Recorder voicing is determined by physical parameters such as the proportions and curvature of the windway along both the longitudinal and latitudinal axes, the beveled edges (chamfers) of the windway facing towards the labium, the length of the window, the sharpness of the labium (i.e. the steepness of the ramp) among other parameters. The player is able to control the speed and turbulence of the airstream using the diaphragm and vocal tract.


The finger holes, used in combination or partially covered, affect the sounding pitch of the instrument.

At the most basic level, the sequential uncovering of finger holes increases the sounding pitch of the instrument by decreasing the effective sounding length of the instrument, and vice versa for the sequential covering of holes. In the fingering , only the bell of the instrument is open, resulting in a low pressure node at the bell end of the instrument. The fingering sounds at a higher pitch because the seventh hole and the bell both release air, creating a low pressure node at the seventh hole.

Besides sequential uncovering, recorders can use forked fingering to produce tones other than those produced by simple sequential lifting of fingers. In the fingering , air leaks from the open holes 4,5,6, and 7. The pressure inside the bore is higher at the fourth hole than at the fifth, and decreases further at the 6th and 7th holes. Consequently, the most air leaks from the fourth hole and the least air leaks from the seventh hole. As a result, covering the fourth hole affects the pitch more than covering any of the holes below it. Thus, at the same air pressure, the fingering produces a pitch between and Forked fingerings allow recorder players to obtain fine gradations in pitch and timbre.

A recorder's pitch is also affected by the partial covering of holes. This technique is an important tool for intonation, and is related to the fixed process of tuning a recorder, which involves the adjustment of the size and shape of the finger holes through carving and the application of wax.

One essential use of partial covering is in "leaking," or partially covering, the thumb hole to destabilize low harmonics. This allows higher harmonics to sound at lower air pressures than by over-blowing alone, as on simple whistles. The player may also leak other holes to destabilize lower harmonics in place of the thumb hole (hole 0). This technique is demonstrated in the fingering tables of Ganassi's Fontegara (), which illustrate the simultaneous leaking of holes 0, 2, and 5 to produce some high notes. For example, Ganassi's table produces the 15th (third octave tonic) as the fourth harmonic of the tonic, leaking holes 0, 2 and 5 and produces the 16th as the third harmonic of the fifth, leaking holes 0 and 2. On some Baroque recorders, the 17th can be produced as the third harmonic of the sixth, leaking hole 0 as well as hole 1, 2 or both.


Although the design of the recorder has changed over its year history, notably in fingering and bore profile (see History), the technique of playing recorders of different sizes and periods is much the same. Indeed, much of what is known about the technique of playing the recorder is derived from historical treatises and manuals dating to the 16th–18th century. The following describes the commonalities of recorder technique across all time periods.

A musician playing a recorder

Playing position[edit]

In normal playing position, the recorder is held with both hands, covering the fingerholes or depressing the keys with the pads of the fingers: four fingers on the lower hand, and the index, middle and ring fingers and thumb on the upper hand. In standard modern practice, the right hand is the lower hand, while the left hand is the upper hand, although this was not standardized before the modern revival of the recorder.

The recorder is supported by the lips, which loosely seal around the beak of the instrument, the thumb of the lower hand, and, depending on the note fingered, by the other fingers and the upper thumb. A practice documented in many historical fingering charts is the use of finger seven or eight to support the recorder when playing notes for which the coverage of this hole negligibly affects the sounding pitch (e.g. notes with many holes uncovered). Larger recorders may have a thumbrest, or a neckstrap for extra support, and may use a bocal to direct air from the player's mouth to the windway.

Recorders are typically held at an angle between vertical and horizontal, the attitude depending on the size and weight of the recorder, and personal preference.


Numbered finger holes.jpg

Pitches are produced on the recorder by covering the holes while blowing into the instrument. Modern terminology refers to the holes on the front of the instrument using the numbers 1 through 7, starting with the hole closest to the beak, with the thumbhole numbered hole 0. At the most basic level, the fingering technique of the recorder involves the sequential uncovering of the holes from lowest to highest (i.e., uncovering 7, then uncovering 7 and 6, then uncovering 7, 6 and 5, etc.) producing ever higher pitches. In practice, however, the uncovering of the holes is not strictly sequential, and the half covering or uncovering of holes is an essential part of recorder technique.

Illustration of a man playing a recorder from Jacques Hotteterre's "Principes de la flute traversiere, de la Flute a Bec, et du Haut-bois" ()

Forked fingerings[edit]

A forked fingering is a fingering in which an open hole has covered holes below it: fingerings for which the uncovering of the holes is not sequential. For example, the fingering is not a forked fingering, while 56 is a forked fingering because the open hole 4 has holes covered below it&#;&#; holes 5 and 6. Forked fingerings allow for smaller adjustments in pitch than the sequential uncovering of holes alone would allow. For example, at the same air speed the fingering 5 sounds higher than but lower than Many standard recorder fingerings are forked fingerings. Forked fingerings may also be used to produce microtonal variations in pitch.

Forked fingerings have a different harmonic profile from non-forked fingerings, and are generally regarded as having a weaker sound. Forked fingerings that have a different tone color or are slightly sharp or flat can provide so-called "alternate fingerings". For example, the fingering has a slightly sharper forked variant

Partial covering of holes[edit]

Partial covering of the holes is an essential part of the playing technique of all recorders. This is variously known as "leaking," "shading," "half-holing," and in the context of the thumb hole, "pinching".

The primary function of the thumbhole is to serve as an octaving vent. When it is leaked, the first mode of vibration of the air column becomes unstable: i.e., the register changes. In most recorders, this is required for the playing of every note higher than a ninth above the lowest note. The player must adjust the position of the thumb for these notes to sound stably and in tune.

The partial opening of the thumbhole may be achieved by sliding or rolling the thumb off the hole, or by bending the thumb at the first knuckle. To partially uncover a covered hole, the player may slide the finger off the hole, bend or roll the finger away from the hole, gently lift the finger from the hole, or a combination of these. To partially cover an open hole, the reverse is possible.

Generally speaking, the partial opening of covered fingerholes raises the pitch of the sounding note while the partial closure of open fingerholes lowers the pitch.

Holes 6 and 7[edit]

On most "baroque" modeled modern recorders, the lower two fingers of the lower hand actually cover two holes each (called "double holes"). Whereas on the vast majority of baroque recorders and all earlier recorders these two fingers covered a single hole ("single holes"), double holes have become standard for baroque modeled modern recorders.[48] By covering one or both of these two, smaller holes, a recorder player can play the notes a semitone above the lowest note and a minor third above the lowest note, notes that are possible on single holed recorders only through the partial covering of those holes, or the covering of the bell.

Covering the bell[edit]

The open end of the bore facing away from the player (the "bell") may be covered to produce extra notes or effects. Because both hands are typically engaged in holding the recorder or covering the finger holes, the covering of the bell is normally achieved by bringing the end of the recorder in contact with the leg or knee, typically achieved through a combination of bending of the torso and/or raising of the knee. Alternatively, in rare cases instruments may be equipped with a key designed to cover the bell ("bell key"), operated by one of the fingers, typically the pinky finger of the upper hand, which is not normally used to cover a hole. Fingerings with a covered bell extend the recorder's chromatic playable range above and below the nominal fingered range.


The pitch and volume of the recorder sound are influenced by the speed of the air travelling through the windway, which may be controlled by varying the breath pressure and the shape of the vocal tract. The sound is also affected by the turbulence of the air entering the recorder. Generally speaking, faster air in the windway produces a higher pitch. Thus blowing harder causes a note to sound sharp whereas blowing the note gently causes it to sound flat. Knowledge of this fact and the recorder's individual tonal differences over its full range will help recorders play in tune with other instruments by knowing which notes will need slightly more or less air to stay in tune. As mentioned above at Harmonic profile, blowing much harder can result in overblowing.


The technique of inhalation and exhalation for the recorder differs from that of many other wind instruments in that the recorder requires very little air pressure to produce a sound, unlike reed or brasswind instruments.[49] Thus, it is often necessary for a recorder player to produce long, controlled streams of air at a very low pressure. Recorder breathing technique focuses on the controlled release of air rather than on maintaining diaphragmatic pressure.

Tongue, mouth and throat[edit]

The use of the tongue to stop and start the air is called "articulation". In this capacity, the tongue has two basic functions: to control the start of the note (the attack) and the end, or the length of the note (legato, staccato). Articulations are roughly analogous to consonants. Practically any consonant that may produced with the tongue, mouth, and throat may be used to articulate on the recorder. Transliterations of common articulation patterns include "du du du du" (using the tip of the tongue, "single tonguing") "du gu du gu," (alternating between the tip and the back of the tongue, "double tonguing") and "du g'll du g'll" (articulation with the tip and the sides of the tongue, "double tonguing"). The attack of the note is governed by such factors as the pressure buildup behind the tongue and shape of the articulant, while the length of the note governed by the stoppage of the air by the tongue. Each articulation pattern has a different natural pattern of attack and length, and recorder technique seeks to produce a wide variety of lengths and attacks using these articulation patterns. Patterns such as these have been used since at least the time of Ganassi ().

Mouth and throat shapes are roughly analogous to vowels. The shape of the vocal track affects the velocity and turbulence of the air entering the recorder. The shape of the mouth and vocal tract affect are closely related to the consonant used to articulate.


The player must coordinate fingers and tongue to align articulations with finger movements. In normal play, articulated attacks should align with the proper fingering, even in legato passages or in difficult finger transitions and the fingers move in the brief silence between the notes (silence d'articulation) created by the stoppage of the air by the tongue.

Both fingers and the breath can be used to control the pitch of the recorder. Coordinating the two is essential to playing the recorder in tune and with a variety of dynamics and timbres. On an elementary level, breath pressure and fingerings must accord with each other to provide an in-tune pitch. As an example of a more advanced form of coordination, a gradual increase in breath pressure combined with the shading of holes, when properly coordinated, results in an increase in volume and change in tone color without a change in pitch. The reverse is possible, decreasing breath pressure and gradually lifting fingers.

Basic fingering[edit]

See also: Fingering (music)

Recorder fingerings (English): Lowest note through the nominal range of 2 octaves and a sixth[50]
Note First octave &#; Second octave &#; Third octave
Tuned[n 1]
in F
in C
&#; Hole
&#; Hole
&#; Hole
&#; Hole
&#; Hole
&#; Hole
&#; Hole
&#; Hole
End hole
G D [n 2]

● means to cover the hole. ○ means to uncover the hole. ◐ means half-cover.

  1. ^See the section Types of recorder concerning recorders in C or in F.
  2. ^Some recorders may need this hole closed (●), half closed (◐), or open (○) to play the note in tune.

The range of a modern "baroque" model recorder is usually considered two octaves and a tone. See the table above for "English" fingerings for the standard range. The numbers at the top correspond to the fingers and the holes on the recorder. The vast majority of recorders manufactured today are designed to play using these fingerings, with slight variations. Nonetheless, recorder fingerings vary widely between models and are mutable even for a single recorder: recorder players may use three or more fingerings for the same note along with partial covering of the holes to achieve proper intonation, in coordination with the breath or in faster passages where some fingerings are unavailable. This chart is a general guide, but by no means a definitive or complete fingering chart for the recorder, an impossible task. Rather, it is the basis for a much more complex fingering system, which is still being added to today.

Some fonts show miniature glyphs of complete recorder fingering charts in TrueType format.[51] Because there are no Unicode values for complete recorder fingering charts, these fonts are custom encoded.



The earliest extant duct flutes date to the neolithic. They are found in almost every musical tradition around the world.[52] Recorders are distinguished from other duct flutes primarily by the thumb hole, which is used as an octaving vent, and the presence of seven finger holes, although classification of early instruments has proved controversial.[53] The performing practice of the recorder in its earliest history is not well documented, owing to the lack of surviving records from the time.

Middle Ages[edit]


Our present knowledge of the structure of recorders in the Middle Ages is based on a small number of instruments preserved and artworks, or iconography, from the period.

Surviving instruments[edit]

Surviving instruments from the Middle Ages are heterogeneous. The first medieval recorder discovered was a fruitwood instrument ("Dordrecht recorder") excavated in from the moat surrounding the castle Huis te Merwede ("House on the Merwede") near the town of Dordrecht in the Netherlands. The castle was only inhabited from to As the area was not disturbed until the modern excavation, the recorder has been dated to the period of occupation of the castle. The instrument has a cylindrical bore about 11&#;mm (&#;in) in diameter and is about &#;mm (12&#;in) long with a vibrating air column of about &#;mm (11&#;in). The block has survived, but the labium is damaged, making the instrument unplayable. The instrument has tenons on both ends of the instrument, suggesting the presence of now lost ferrules or turnings. Uncertainty regarding the nature of these fittings has hindered reconstruction of the instrument's original state.

A second, structurally different instrument ("Göttingen recorder") was discovered in in an archaeological excavation of the latrine of a medieval house in Göttingen, Germany. It has been dated to between and It is fruitwood in one piece with turnings, measuring about &#;mm (&#;in) long. It has a cylindrical bore about &#;mm (&#;in) at the highest measurable point, narrowing to &#;mm (&#;in) between the first and second finger holes, to &#;to &#;mm (–&#;in) between the second and third finger holes, and contracting to &#;mm (&#;in) at the seventh hole. The bore expands to &#;mm (&#;in) at the bottom of the instrument, which has a bulbous foot. Unusually, the finger holes taper conically outwards, the opposite of the undercutting found in Baroque recorders. The top of the instrument is damaged: only a cut side of the windway survives, and the block has been lost. A reconstruction by Hans Reiners has a strident, penetrating sound rich in overtones and has a range of two octaves. With the thumb hole and the first three finger holes covered, the reconstruction produces a pitch ca. &#;Hz.

In the 21st century, a number of other instruments and fragments dated to the medieval period have come to light. These include a 14th-century fragment of a headjoint excavated in Esslingen, Germany ("Esslingen fragment"); a birch instrument dated to the second half of the 14th century unearthed in Tartu, Estonia ("Tartu recorder"); and a fruitwood instrument dated to the 15th century, found in Elbląg, Poland ("Elbląg recorder").

Common features of the surviving instruments include: a narrow cylindrical bore (except the Göttingen recorder); a doubled seventh hole for the little finger of the lower hand to allow for right- or left- handed playing (except the Tartu recorder); a seventh hole that produces a semitone instead of a tone; and a flat or truncated head, instead of the narrow beak found on later instruments. Additionally, the Esslingen fragment has turnings similar to the Göttingen recorder. No complete instruments larger than &#;mm (12&#;in) have survived, although the Esslingen fragment may represent a larger recorder.[54][55]

The widely spaced doubled seventh hole persisted in later instruments. According to Virdung (), the hole that was not used was plugged with wax.[56] It was not until the Baroque period, when instruments with adjustable footjoints were developed, that widely spaced double holes became obsolete.

The classification of these instruments is primarily complicated by the fact that the seventh hole produces a semitone instead of a tone. As a result, chromatic fingerings are difficult, and require extensive half-holing. These instruments share similarities with the six holed flageolet, which used three fingers on each hand and had no thumb hole. Anthony Rowland-Jones has suggested that the thumb hole on these early flutes was an improvement upon the flageolet to provide a stronger fingering for the note an octave above the tonic, while the seventh finger hole provided a leading tone to the tonic. As a result, he has suggested that these flutes should be described as improved flageolets, and has proposed the condition that true recorders produce a tone (rather than a semitone) when the seventh finger is lifted.[53]

Controversy aside, there is little question that these instruments are at least precursors to later instruments that are indisputably recorders. Because there is sparse documentary evidence from the earliest history of the instrument, such questions may never be resolved. Indeed, historically there was no need for an all-inclusive definition that encompassed every form of the instrument past and present.


Recorders with a cylindrical profile are depicted in many medieval paintings, however their appearance does not easily correspond to the surviving instruments, and may be stylized. The earliest depictions of the recorder are probably in "The Mocking of Christ" from the monastery church of St George in Staro Nagoričano near Kumanovo, Macedonia (the painting of the church began in ) in which a man plays a cylindrical recorder; and the center panel of the "Virgin and Child" attributed to Pedro (Pere) Serra (c. ), painted for the church of S. Clara, Tortosa, now in the Museu Nacional d'Art de Catalunya, Barcelona, in which a group of angels play musical instruments around the Virgin Mary, one of them playing a cylindrical recorder.[2]

Starting in the Middle Ages, angels have frequently been depicted playing one or more recorders, often grouped around the Virgin, and in several notable paintings trios of angels play recorders. This is perhaps a sign of the trinity, although the music must have often been in three parts.[2]


No music marked for the recorder survives from prior to Groups of recorder players or recorder playing angels, particularly trios, are depicted in paintings from the 15th century, indicating the recorder was used in these configurations, as well as with other instruments. Some of the earliest music must have been vocal repertory.

Modern recorder players have taken up the practice of playing instrumental music from the period, perhaps anachronistically, such as the monophonic estampies from the Chansonnier du Roi (13th), Add MS (14th or 15th), or the Codex Faenza (15th), and have arranged keyboard music, such as the estampies from the Robertsbridge codex (14th), or the vocal works of composers such as Guillaume de Machaut and Johannes Ciconia for recorder ensembles.


In the 16th century, the structure, repertoire, and performing practice of the recorder is better documented than in prior epochs. The recorder was one of the most important wind instruments of the Renaissance, and many instruments dating to the 16th century survive, including some matched consorts.[20][21] This period also produced the first extant books describing the recorder, including the treatises of Virdung (), Agricola (), Ganassi (), Cardano (c), Jambe de Fer (), and Praetorius (). Nonetheless, understanding of the instrument and its practice in this period is still developing.


In the 16th century, the recorder saw important developments in its structure. As in the recorders of the Middle Ages, the etiology of these changes remains uncertain, development was regional and multiple types of recorder existed simultaneously. Our knowledge is based on documentary sources and surviving instruments.

Surviving instruments[edit]

Far more recorders survive from the Renaissance than from the Middle Ages. Most of the surviving instruments from the period have a wide, cylindrical bore from the blockline to the uppermost fingerhole, an inverted conical portion down to around the lowest finger hole (the "choke"), then a slight flare to the bell. Externally, they have a curved shape similar to the bore, with a profile like a stretched hourglass. Their sound is warm, rich in harmonics, and somewhat introverted.[2] Surviving consorts of this type, identified by their makers marks, include those marked "HIER S•" or "HIE•S" found in Vienna, Sibiu and Verona; and those marked with variations on a rabbit's footprint, designated "!!" by Adrian Brown, which are dispersed among various museums. The pitch of these recorders is often generally grouped around A&#;=&#;&#;Hz, however little pitch standardization existed in the period. This type of recorder is described by Praetorius in De Organographia (). A surviving consort by "!!" follows the exact size configuration suggested by Praetorius: stacked fifths up from the basset in F3, and down a fifth then a fourth to bass in B 2 and great bass in F2. Instruments marked "HIER S•" or "HIE•S" are in stacked fifths from great bass in F2 to soprano in E5.[57] Many of these instruments are pitched around A&#;=&#;&#;Hz or A&#;=&#;&#;Hz, although pitch varied regionally and between consorts.

The range of this type is normally an octave plus a minor 7th, but as remarked by Praetorius () and demonstrated in the fingering tables of Ganassi's Fontegara (),[58] experienced players on particular instruments were capable of playing up to a fourth or even a seventh higher (see #Documentary evidence: treatises). Their range is more suitable for the performance of vocal music, rather than purely instrumental music. This type is the recorder typically referred to as the "normal" Renaissance recorder, however this modern appellation does not fully capture the heterogeneity of instruments of the 16th century.

Another surviving Renaissance type has a narrow cylindrical bore and cylindrical profile like the medieval exemplars but a choke at the last hole. The earliest surviving recorders of this type were made by the Rafi family, instrument makers active in Lyons in Southern France in the early 16th century. Two recorders marked "C.RAFI" were acquired by the Accademia Filarmonica, Bologna in , where they remain today. A consort of recorders or similar make, marked "P.GRE/C/E," was donated to the Accademia in , expanding the pair marked "C.RAFI". Other recorders by the Rafi family survive in Northern Europe, notably a pair in Brussels. It is possible that Grece worked in the Rafi workshop, or was a member of the Rafi family. The pitch of the Rafi/Grece instruments is around A&#;=&#;&#;Hz. They have a relatively quiet sound with good pitch stability favoring dynamic expression.[59][60][61]

In , French author Philibert Jambe de Fer gave a set of fingerings for hybrid instruments such as the Rafi and Grece instruments that give a range of two octaves. Here, the 15th was now produced, as on most later recorders, as a variant of the 14th instead of as the fourth harmonic of the tonic, as in Ganassi's tables.

Documentary evidence: treatises[edit]

The first two treatises of the 16th century show recorders that differ from the surviving instruments dating to the century: these are Sebastian Virdung's (b. ?) Musica getutscht (), and Martin Agricola's (–) similar Musica instrumentalis deudsch (), published in Basel and Saxony respectively.

Musica Getutscht, the earliest printed treatise on western musical instruments, is an extract of an earlier, now lost, manuscript treatise by Virdung, a chaplain, singer, and itinerant musician. The printed version was written in a vernacular form of Early New High German, and was aimed at wealthy urban amateur musicians: the title translates, briefly, as "Music, translated into German Everything there is to know about [music] – made simple." When a topic become too complex for Virdung to discuss briefly, he refers the reader to his lost larger work, an unhelpful practice for modern readers. While the illustrations have been called "maddeningly inaccurate" and his perspectives quirky,[62] Virdung's treatise gives us an important source on the structure and performing practice of the recorder in northern Europe in the late 15th and early 16th centuries.

The recorders described by Virdung have cylindrical profiles with flat heads, narrow windows and long ramps, ring-like turnings on the feet, and a slight external flare at the bell (above, far left and middle left). Virdung depicts four recorders together: a baßcontra or bassus (basset) in F3 with an anchor shaped key and a perforated fontanelle, two tenors in C4 and a discantus (alto) in G4. According to Virdung, the configurations F–C–C–G or F–C–G–G should be used for four-part music, depending on the range of the bass part. As previously mentioned, the accuracy of these woodcuts cannot be verified as no recorders fitting this description survive. Virdung also provides the first ever fingering chart for a recorder with a range of an octave and a seventh, though he says that the bass had a range of only an octave and sixth. In his fingering chart, he numbers which fingers to lift rather than those to put down and, unlike in later charts, numbers them from bottom (1) to top (8). His only other technical instruction is that the player must blow into the instrument and "learn how to coordinate the articulations with the fingers".[56]

Martin Agricola's Musica instrumentalis Deudsch ("A German instrumental music, in which is contained how to learn to play all kinds of instruments"), written in rhyming German verse (ostensibly to improve the understanding and retention of its contents), provides a similar account and copies most of its woodcuts directly from Getutscht. Agricola also calls the tenor "altus," mistakenly depicting it as a little smaller than the tenor in the woodcut (above, middle right). Like Virdung, Agricola takes it for granted that recorders should be played in four-part consorts. Unlike Getutscht, which provides a single condensed fingering chart, Agricola provides separate, slightly differing, fingering charts for each instrument, leading some to suppose that Agricola experimented on three different instruments, rather than copying the fingerings from one size to the other two.[63] Agricola adds that graces (Mordanten), which make the melody subtil, must be learned from a professional (Pfeiffer), and that the manner of ornamentation (Coloratur) of the organist is best of all.[64] A substantial revision of Musica Instrumentalis approvingly mentions the use of vibrato (zitterndem Wind) for woodwind instruments, and includes an account of articulation, recommending the syllables de for semiminims and larger, di ri for semiminims and smaller, and the articulation tell ell ell ell el le, which he calls the "flutter-tongue" (flitter zunge) for the smallest of note values, found in passagi (Colorirn).

The next treatise comes from Venice: Silvestro Ganassi dal Fontego's (–mids) Opera Intitulata Fontegara (), which is the first work to focus specifically on the technique of playing the recorder, and perhaps the only historical treatise ever published that approaches a description of a professional or virtuoso playing technique. Ganassi was a musician employed by the Doge and at the Basilica di San Marco at the time of the work's publication, an indication of his high level of accomplishment, and later wrote two works on the playing the viol and the violone, although he does not mention being employed by the Doge after Fontegara.[65]

Fontegara can be broadly divided into two parts: the first concerns the technique of playing the recorder, the second demonstrated divisions (regole, passagi, ornaments), some of great complexity, which the player may use to ornament a melody or, literally, "divide" it into smaller notes. In all aspects, Ganassi emphasizes the importance of imitating the human voice, declaring that "the aim of the recorder player is to imitate as closely as possible all the capabilities of the human voice", maintaining that the recorder is indeed able to do this. For Ganassi, imitation of the voice has three aspects: "a certain artistic proficiency," which seems to be the ability to perceive the nature of the music, prontezza (dexterity or fluency), achieved "by varying the pressure of the breath and shading the tone by means of suitable fingering," and galanteria (elegance or grace), achieved by articulation, and by the use of ornaments, the "simplest ingredient" of them being the trill, which varies according to the expression.

Ganassi gives fingering tables for a range of an octave and a seventh, the standard range also remarked by Praetorius, then tells the reader that he has discovered, through long experimentation, more notes not known to other players due to their lack of perseverance, extending the range to two octaves and a sixth. Ganassi gives fingerings for three recorders with different makers' marks, and advises the reader to experiment with different fingerings, as recorders vary in their bore. The maker's mark of one of the recorders, in the form of a stylized letter "A", has been associated with the Schnitzer family of instrument makers in Germany, leading Hermann Moeck to suppose that Ganassi's recorder might have been Northern European in origin.[66] (see also Note on "Ganassi" recorders)

Ganassi uses three basic kinds of syllables te che, te re, and le re and also varies the vowel used with the syllable, suggesting the effect of mouth shape on the sound of the recorder. He gives many combinations of these syllables and vowels, and suggests the choice of the syllables according to their smoothness, te che being least smooth and le re being most so. He does not, however, demonstrate how the syllables should be used to music.[clarification needed]

Most of the treatise consists of tables of diminutions of intervals, small melodies and cadences, categorized by their meter. These several hundred divisions use quintuplets, septuplets, note values from whole notes to 32nd notes in modern notation, and demonstrate immense variety and complexity.

The frontispiece to Fontegara shows three recorder players play together with two singers. Like Agricola and Virdung, Ganassi takes for granted that recorders should be played in groups of four, and come in three sizes: F3, C4 and G4. He makes a distinction between solo playing and ensemble playing, noting that what he has said is for solo players, and that when playing with others, it is most important to match them. Unfortunately, Ganassi gives only a few ornamented examples with little context for their use. Nonetheless, Ganassi offers a tantalizing glimpse at a highly developed professional culture and technique of woodwind playing that modern players can scarcely be said to have improved upon.[67]

Gerolamo Cardano's De Musica was written around , but not published until when it was published along with other works by Cardan, who was an eminent philosopher, mathematician and physician as well as a keen amateur recorder player who learned from a professional teacher, Leo Oglonus, as a child in Milan.

His account corroborates that of Ganassi, using the same three basic syllables and emphasizing the importance of breath control and ornamentation in recorder playing, but also documents several aspects of recorder technique otherwise undocumented until the 20th century. These include multiple techniques using the partial closing of the bell: to produce a tone or semitone below the tonic, and to change semitones into dieses (half semitones), which he says can also be produced by "repercussively bending back the tongue".[68] He also adds that the position of the tongue, either extended or turned up towards the palate, can be used to improve, vary, and color notes. He is the first to differentiate between the amount of the breath (full, shallow, or moderate) and the force (relaxed or slow, intense, and the median between them) as well as the different amount of air required for each instrument, and describes a trill or vibrato called a vox tremula in which "a tremulous quality in the breath" is combined with a trilling of the fingers to vary the interval from anything between a major third and a diesis. He is also the first writer to mention the recorder in D5 ("discantus"), which he leaves unnamed.[68]

Composer and singer Philibert Jambe de Fer (c. &#;&#; c. ) was the only French author of the 16th century to write about the recorder, in his Epitome musical. He complains of the French name for the instrument, fleutte à neuf trouz ('flute with nine holes') as, in practice, one of the lowermost holes must be plugged, leaving only eight open holes. He prefers fleute d'Italien or the Italian flauto. His fingering chart is notable for two reasons, first for describing fingerings with the 15th produced as a variant on the 14th, and for using the third finger of the lower hand as a buttress finger, although only for three notes in the lower octave.[68] (See also Renaissance structure.)

Aurelio Virgiliano's "Il dolcimelo" (c. ) presents ricercars intended for or playable on the recorder, a description of other musical instruments, and a fingering chart for a recorder in G4 similar to Jambe de Fer's.[69]

The Syntagma musicum (–20) of Michael Praetorius (–) in three volumes (a fourth was intended but never finished) is an encyclopedic survey of music and musical instruments. Volume II, De Organographia () is of particular interest for its description of no fewer than eight sizes of recorder (klein Flötlein or exilent in G5, discant in C5 or D5, alt in G4, tenor in C4, basset in F3, bass in B 2, and grossbass in F2) as well as the four-holed gar kleine Plockflötlein.

Praetorius was the first author to explain that recorders can confuse the ear into believing that they sound an octave lower than pitch, which phenomenon has more recently been explained in relation to the recorder's lack of high harmonics. He also shows the different "registers" of consort possible, 2′ (discant, alt, and tenor), 4′ (alt, tenor, and basset), and 8′ (tenor, basset, and bass) (see also Nomenclature). Additionally, he proposed cutting the recorder between the beak and the first finger hole to allow for a kind of tuning slide to raise or lower its pitch, similar to the Baroque practice of adjusting a recorder's pitch by "pulling out" the top joint of the recorder.

The recorders described in Praetorius are of the "stretched hourglass" profile (see above, far right). He gives fingerings like those of Ganassi, and remarks that they normally have a range of an octave and a sixth, although exceptional players could extend that range by a fourth.

"Double recorder"[edit]

Some paintings from the 14th and 15th centuries depict musicians playing what appear to be two end-blown flutes simultaneously. In some cases, the two flutes are evidently disjoint, separate flutes of similar make, played angled away from each other, one pipe in each hand. In others, flutes of the same length have differing hand positions. In a final case, the pipes are parallel, in contact with each other, and differ in length.[70][71] While the iconographic criteria for a recorder are typically a clearly recognizable labium and a double handed vertical playing technique,[55] such criteria are not prescriptive, and it is uncertain whether any of these depictions should be considered a single instrument, or constitute a kind of recorder. The identification of the instrument depicted is further complicated by the symbolism of the aulos, a double piped instrument associated with the satyr Marsyas of Greek mythology.

An instrument consisting of two attached, parallel, end-blown flutes of differing length, dating to the 15th or 16th century, was found in poor condition near All Souls College in Oxford. The instrument has four holes finger-holes and a thumb hole for each hand. The pipes have an inverted conical "choke" bore (see Renaissance structure). Bob Marvin has estimated that the pipes played a fifth apart, at approximately C5 and G5.[72] The instrument is sui generis. Although the instrument's pipes have thumb holes, the lack of organological precedent makes classification of the instrument difficult. Marvin has used the terms "double recorder" and the categorization-agnostic flauto doppio (double flute) to describe the Oxford instrument.

Marvin has designed a flauto doppio based on the Oxford instrument, scaled to play at F4 and C5. Italian recorder maker Francesco Livirghi has designed a double recorder or flauto doppio with connected, angled pipes of the same length but played with different hand positions, based on iconographic sources. Its pipes play at F4 and B 4.[70] Both instruments use fingerings of the makers' design.

Note on "Ganassi" recorders[edit]

In the s, when recorder makers began to make the first models of recorders from the 16th and 17th centuries, such models were not always representative of the playing characteristics of the original instruments. Especially notable is Fred Morgan's much copied "Ganassi" model, based loosely on an instrument in the Vienna Kunsthistorisches museum (inventory number SAM ), was designed to use the fingerings for the highest notes in Ganassi's tables in Fontegara. As Morgan knew, these notes were not in standard use; indeed Ganassi uses them in only a few of the hundreds of diminutions contained in Fontegara. Historically, such recorders did not exist as a distinct type, and the fingerings given by Ganassi were those of a skilled player particularly familiar with his instruments. When modern music is written for 'Ganassi recorders' it means this type of recorder.[73]


Recorders were probably first used to play vocal music, later adding purely instrumental forms such as dance music to their repertoire. Much of the vocal music of the 15th, 16th and 17th centuries can be played on recorder consorts, and as illustrated in treatises from Virdung to Praetorius, the choice appropriate instruments and transpositions to play vocal music was common practice in the Renaissance. Additionally, some collections such as those of Pierre Attaingnant and Anthony Holborne, indicate that their instrumental music was suitable for recorder consorts.[74] This section first discusses repertoire marked for the recorder, then briefly, other repertoire played on recorder.

In Giovanni Alvise, a Venetian wind player, offered Francesco Gonzaga of Mantua a motet for eight recorders, however the work has not survived.

Pierre Attaingnant's (fl. –) Vingt & sept chansons musicales a quatre parties a la fleuste dallementet a la fleuste a neuf trous () collects 28 (not 27, as in the title) four-part instrumental motets, nine of which he says were suitable for performance on flutes (fleustes dallement, German flutes), two on recorders (fleuestes a neuf trous, nine-holed flutes, "recorders"), and twelve suitable for both. Of the twelve marked for both, seven use chiavi naturali, or low-clefs typically used for recorders, while the others use the chiavette clefs used in the motets marked for flutes. Hence, the seven notated in chiavi naturali could be considered more appropriate for recorders. Vingt et sept chansons is the first published music marked for a recorder consort. Earlier is a part for Jacobus Barbireau's song "Een vrolic wesen", apparently for recorder, accompanying the recorder fingering chart in Livre plaisant et tres utile (Antwerp, ), a partial French translation of Virdung's Musica getutscht.

Jacques Moderne'sS'ensuyvent plusieurs basses dances tant communes que incommunes published in the s, depicts a four-part recorder consort such as those described in Virdung, Agricola, Ganassi and others, however the dances are not marked for recorders. His Musique de joye () contains ricercares and dances for performance on "espinetes, violons & fleustes".

In –40, Henry VIII of England, also a keen amateur player (see Cultural significance), imported five brothers of the Bassano family from Venice to form a consort, expanded to six members in , forming a group that maintained an exceptional focus on the recorder until at least when the recorder consort was combined with the other wind groups. Most wind bands consisted of players playing sackbutts, shawms, and other loud instruments doubling on recorder. Some music probably intended for this group survives, including dance music by Augustine and Geronimo Bassano from the third quarter of the 16th century, and the more elaborate fantasias of Jeronimo Bassano (c. ), four in five parts and one in six parts. Additionally, the Fitzwilliam wind manuscript (GB-Cfm ) contains wordless motets, madrigals and dance pieces, including some by the Bassano family, probably intended for a recorder consort in six parts.[75]

The English members of the Bassano family, having originated in Venice, were also probably familiar with the vocal style, advanced technique, and complex improvised ornamentation described in Ganassi's Fontegara, and they were probably among the recorder players whom Ganassi reports having worked and studied with: when they were brought to England, they were regarded as some of the best wind players in Venice. While most of the music attributed to the consort uses only a range of a thirteenth, it is possible that the Bassano's were familiar with Ganassi's extended range.[76]

Recorders were also played with other instruments, especially in England, where it was called a mixed consort or "broken consort".

Other 16th-century composers whose instrumental music can be played well on recorder consorts include:

Other notable composers of the Renaissance whose music may be played on the recorder include:

Cultural significance[edit]

The recorder achieved great popularity in the 16th century, and is one of the most common instruments of the Renaissance. From the 15th century onwards, paintings show upper-class men and women playing recorder, and Virdung's didactic treatise Musica getutscht (), the first of its kind, was aimed at the amateur (see also Documentary evidence). Famously, Henry VIII of England was an avid player of the recorder, and at his death in an inventory of his possessions included 76 recorders in consorts of various sizes and materials.[77] Some Italian paintings from the 16th-century show aristocracy of both sexes playing the recorder, however many gentlemen found it unbecoming to play because it uses the mouth, preferring the lute and later the viol.[2]

At the turn of the 17th century, playwright William Shakespeare famously referenced the recorder in his most substantial play, "The Tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark," creating an extended metaphor between manipulation and playing a musical instrument.[78] Poet John Milton also referenced the recorder in his most famous work, the epic poem Paradise Lost published in , in which the recently fallen angels in Hell "move / in perfect phalanx to the Dorian mood / of flutes and soft recorders," recalling both the affect of the Dorian mode as the mode of calling to action, and the use of flutes by the Spartans of ancient Greece, although the specification of the recorder is anachronistic in this context.[79][80]

Baroque recorders[edit]


Several changes in the construction of recorders took place in the 17th century, resulting in the type of instrument generally referred to as Baroque recorders, as opposed to the earlier Renaissance recorders. These innovations allowed baroque recorders to possess a tone regarded as "sweeter" than that of the earlier instruments,[81] at the expense of a reduction in volume, particularly in the lowest notes.

The evolution of the Renaissance recorder into the Baroque instrument is generally attributed to the Hotteterre family, in France. They developed the ideas of a more tapered bore, bringing the finger-holes of the lowermost hand closer together, allowing greater range, and enabling the construction of instruments in several jointed sections. The last innovation allowed more accurate shaping of each section and also offered the player minor tuning adjustments, by slightly pulling out one of the sections to lengthen the instrument.

The French innovations were taken to London by Pierre Bressan, a set of whose instruments survive in the Grosvenor Museum, Chester, as do other examples in various American, European and Japanese museums and private collections. Bressan's contemporary, Thomas Stanesby, was born in Derbyshire but became an instrument maker in London. He and his son (Thomas Stanesby junior) were the other important British-based recorder-makers of the early 18th century.

In continental Europe, the Denner family of Nuremberg were the most celebrated makers of this period.

The baroque recorder produces a most brilliant and projecting sound in the second octave, which is more facile and extended than that of earlier recorders, while the lowest notes in its range are relatively weak. Composers such as Bach, Telemann and Vivaldi exploit this property in their concertos for the instrument.

Measured from its lowest to its highest playable note, the baroque alto recorder has a range of at most two octaves and a fifth with many instruments having a smaller range. Even the most developed instruments of the period, however, cannot produce the augmented tonic, third and fourth of the third octave. Notably, Georg Philipp Telemann's concerto TWV F1 makes use some of these notes in the third octave, posing significant technical challenges to the player, perhaps requiring the covering of the bell or other unusual techniques.


During the baroque period, the recorder was traditionally associated with pastoral scenes, miraculous events, funerals, marriages, and amorous scenes. Images of recorders can be found in literature and artwork associated with all of these. Purcell, J.&#;S. Bach, Telemann, and Vivaldi used the recorder to suggest shepherds and imitate birds in their music.[82]

Although the recorder achieved a greater level of standardization in the Baroque than in previous periods, indeed it is the first period in which there was a "standard" size of recorder, ambiguous nomenclature and uncertain organological evidence have led to controversy regarding which instruments should be used in some "flute" parts from the period.

Fourth Brandenburg Concerto BWV [edit]

The concertino group of Bach's fourth Brandenburg Concerto in G major, BWV , consists of a violono principale, and due fiauti d'echo, with ripieno strings. His later harpsichord transcription of this concerto, BWV , lowers the key by a tone, as in all of Bach's harpsichord transcriptions, and is scored for solo harpsichord, two fiauti à bec and ripieno strings. The desired instrument for the fiauti d'echo parts in BWV has been a matter of perennial musicological and organological debate for two primary reasons: first, the term fiauto d'echo is not mentioned in dictionaries or tutors of the period; and second, the first fiauto part uses F#6, a note which is difficult to produce on a Baroque alto recorder in F4.

The instrumentation of BWV is uncontroversial: fiauti à bec unambiguously specifies recorders, and both parts have been modified to fit comfortably on altos in F4, avoiding, for example, an unplayable Eb4 in the second fiauto that would have resulted from a simple transposition of a tone.

For the first and last movements of the concerto, two opinions predominate: first, that both recorder parts should be played on alto recorders in F4; and second, that the first part should be played on an alto recorder in G and the second part on an alto in F. Tushaar Power has argued for the alto in G4 on the basis that Bach uses the high F#6, which can be easily played on an alto in G4, but not the low F4, a note not playable on the alto in G4. He corroborates this with other alto recorder parts in Bach's cantatas. Michael Marissen reads the repertoire differently, demonstrating that in other recorder parts, Bach used both the low F4 and F#6, as well as higher notes. Marissen argues that Bach was not as consistent as Power asserts, and that Bach would have almost certainly had access to only altos in F. He corroborates this with examinations of pitch standards and notation in Bach's cantatas, in which the recorder parts are sometimes written as transposing instruments to play with organs that sounded as much as a minor third above written pitch. Marissen also reads Bach's revisions to the recorder parts in BWV as indicative of his avoidance of F#6 in BWV , a sign that he only used the difficult note when necessary in designing the part for an alto recorder in F4. He posits that Bach avoided F#6 in BWV , at the cost of inferior counterpoint, reinstating them as E6 in BWV

In the second movement, breaking of beaming in the fiauto parts, markings of f and p, the fermata over the final double bar of the first movement, and the 21 bars of rest at the beginning of the third have led some musicologists to argue that Bach intended the use of "echo flutes" distinct from normal recorders in the second movement in particular. The breaking of beaming could be an indication of changes in register or tonal quality, the rests introduced to allow the players time to change instruments, and the markings of f and p further indicative of register or sound changes. Marissen has demonstrated that the f and p markings probably indicated tutti and solo sections rather than loud and soft ones.

A number of instruments other than normal recorders have been suggested for the fiauto d'echo. One of the earliest proposed alternatives, by Thurston Dart, was the use of double flageolets, a suggestion since revealed to be founded on unsteady musicological grounds. Dart did, however, bring to light numerous newspaper references to Paisible's performance on an "echo flute" between and Another contemporary reference to the "echo flute" is in Etienne Loulié'sElements ou principes de musique (Amsterdan, ): Les sons de deux flutes d'echo sont differents, parce que l'un est fort, & que l'autre est foible (The sounds of two echo flutes are different, because one is strong and the other is weak). Loulié is unclear on why one would need two echo flutes to play strongly and weakly, and on why it is that echo flutes differ. Perhaps the echo flute was composed in two halves: one which plays strongly, the other weakly? On this we can only speculate.

Surviving instruments which are candidates for echo flutes include an instrument in Leipzig which consists of two recorders of different tonal characteristics joined at the head and footjoints by brass flanges. There is also evidence of double recorders tuned in thirds, but these are not candidates for the fiauto parts in BWV

"Concerti per flautino" RV , , [edit]

Vivaldi wrote three concertos for the flautino, possibly for performance by students at the Ospedale della Pietà in Venice, where he taught and composed in the early 18th century. They feature virtuosic solo writing, and along with his concerto RV and trio sonata RV 86 are his most virtuosic recorder works. They each survive a single hastily written manuscript copy, each titled Con.to per Flautino (Concerto for little flute) with the additional note Gl'istrom.ti trasportati alla 4a (The instruments transpose by a fourth) in RV and Gl'istrom.ti alla 4ta Bassa (The instruments lower by a fourth) in RV The three concertos RV , , and are notated in C major, C major and A minor respectively. Also of note is the occasional use of notes outside the normal two octave compass of the recorder: the range of the solo sections is two octaves from notated F4 to notated F6, however there is a single notated C4 in the first movement of RV , a notated E4 in a tutti section in the first movement of RV and low E4 in multiple tutti sections of RV

A number of possible flautini have been proposed as the instrument intended for the performance of these concertos. The first suggestion was the use of the one keyed piccolo, or another small transverse flute, however such instruments had fallen out of use in Venice by the generally accepted time of composition of these concertos in the s, and this opinion is no longer considered well supported. Another suggestion, first proposed by Peter Thalheimer, is the "French" flageolet (see Flageolets below) in G5, which was notated in D4, appearing a fourth lower, possibly explaining the note in the margins of RV and RV (Gl'istromti transportati alla 4a) and supported by Bismantova ( rev. ) and Bonanni () which equate flautino to the flageolet. However this suggestion has been opposed by the presence of notated F4 and F4 which are not within the typical compass of the flageolet, although they may be produced through the covering of the bell, sometimes combined with underblowing, as attested by theorists as early as Cardano (c.&#;) and as late as Bellay (c.&#;).[83]

Two instruments are conventionally accepted today for the performance of these concertos, the sopranino recorder, notated like an alto but sounding an octave higher, and the soprano recorder, following the instruction to transpose the parts down by a fourth. Winfried Michel was first to argue in favor of the soprano recorder in , when he proposed to take Vivaldi at his word and transpose the string parts down a fourth and play the flautino part on a soprano recorder in C5 (also "fifth-flute") using the English practice of notating such flutes as transposing instruments using the fingerings of an alto recorder. Michel notes that this transposition allows for the use of the violins' and viola's lowest strings (in sections where they provide the accompaniment without bass) and the lowest two notes of the 'cello. He attributes the presence of notes not in the recorder's normal compass to Vivaldi's haste, noting that these notes do not appear in the solo sections.[84] He has edited editions of RV and RV for soprano recorder in G major and E minor respectively. Federico Maria Sardelli concurs with Michel in supposing that the margin note was intended to allow the performance of the concertos on the soprano recorder on a specific occasion, however concludes that they were probably written for the sopranino recorder in F5, noting that small transverse flutes had fallen out of use in Italy by Vivaldi's time, the paucity of flageolets in Italy, the range of the parts, and uses of the flautino in vocal arias.[85]

Classical and Romantic[edit]

The recorder was little used in art music of the Classical and Romantic periods. Researchers have long debated why this change occurred, and to what extent the recorder remained use in the late 18th century, and later the 19th century. A significant question in this debate is which, if any, duct flutes of this period are recorders or successors to recorders.


The recorder work of the latter half of the 18th century most known today is probably a trio sonata by C.&#;P.&#;E. Bach, Wq, composed in &#;&#; an arrangement of a trio sonata for two violins and continuo, scored for the unusual ensemble of viola, bass recorder and continuo.[86] This work is also notable for being perhaps the only significant surviving historical solo work for bass recorder. Also of note are the works of Johann Christoph Schultze (c. –), who wrote two concertos for the instrument, one in G major and another in B major, written around [87] The last occurrences of the recorder in art music are apparently by Carl Maria von Weber in Peter Schmoll und seine Nachbarn () and Kleiner Tusch (). Hector Berlioz may have intended "La fuite en Egypte" from L'enfance du Christ () for the instrument.[2]Donizetti owned three recorders.[68]


Many reasons supporting the conventional view that the recorder declined have been proposed. The first significant explanation for the recorder's decline was proposed by Waitzman (),[88] who proposed six reasons:

  1. The recorder lacked a significant class of professional players
  2. The recorder's true nature was not appreciated
  3. The high tessitura of the instrument discouraged composers from writing idiomatically for the instrument
  4. The exploitation of the highest registers posed special problems for makers and players
  5. Interest in clarino (4′ pitch) instruments was waning
  6. As a result of the first five factors, the recorder had a bad reputation, which discouraged students from studying the instrument

In the Baroque, the majority of professional recorder players were primarily oboists or string players. For this reason, the number of professional exponents of the recorder was smaller than that of other woodwinds.

Others attribute the decline of the recorder in part to the flute innovators of the time, such as Grenser, and Tromlitz, who extended the transverse flute's range and evened out its tonal consistency through the addition of keys, or to the supposedly greater dynamic range and volume of the flute.[89] Similar developments occurring in many other orchestral instruments to make them louder, increase their range, and increase their tonal consistency did not simultaneously occur in the case of the recorder.

A complementary view recently advanced by Nikolaj Tarasov is that the recorder, rather than totally disappearing, evolved in similar ways to other wind instruments through the addition of keys and other devices, and remained in use throughout the 19th century, with its direct descendant's popularity overlapping with the late 19th and early 20th century recorder revival.[90] Support for this view rests on the organological classification of some 19th century duct flutes as recorders. For more on this question, see "Other duct flutes".

Other duct flutes[edit]

Duct flutes remained popular even as the recorder waned in the 18th century. As in the instrument's earliest history, questions of the instrument's quiddity are at the forefront of modern debate. The modification and renaming of recorders in the 18th century in order to prolong their use, and the uncertainty of the extent of the recorder's use the late 18th and early 19th centuries have fueled these debates. Some recent researchers contend that some 19th century duct flutes are actually recorders. This article briefly discusses the duct flutes presented as successors to the recorder: the English flageolet and the csakan, which were popular among amateurs in the second half of the 18th century, and the whole of the 19th.

French flageolet, left; English flageolet, right. Mid 19th c. Note the seven finger holes and single thumb hole of the English flageolet

The word flageolet has been used since the 16th century to refer to small duct flutes, and the instrument is sometimes designated using general terms such as flautino and flauto piccolo, complicating identification of its earliest form. It was first described by Mersenne in Harmonie universelle () as having four fingers on the front, and two thumb holes on the back, with lowest note C6 and a compass of two octaves. Like the recorder, the upper thumb hole is used as an octaving vent. Flageolets were generally small flutes, however their lowest note varies.[91] They were initially popular in France, and it is from there that the flageolet first arrived in England in the seventeenth century, becoming a popular amateur instrument, as the recorder later did. Indeed, when the recorder was introduced to England it was presented as an easy instrument for those who already played the flageolet, and the earliest English recorder tutors are notated in the flageolet tablature of the time, called "dot-way".[68] Notably, the diarist and naval administrator Samuel Pepys (–) and his wife were both amateur players of the flageolet, and Pepys was later an amateur recorder player.

Starting in the early s, a number of innovations to the flageolet were introduced, including the addition of keys to extend its range and allow it to more easily play accidentals. They also included novel solutions to the problem of condensation: most commonly, a sea sponge was placed inside the wind chamber (the conical chamber above the windway) to soak up moisture, while novel solutions such as the insertion of a thin wooden wedge into the windway, the drilling of little holes in the side of the block to drain condensation and a complex system for draining condensation through a hollowed out block developed, were also developed.[92] Around in England, the recorder ("English flute," see Name) came to be called an "English flageolet," appropriating the name of the more fashionable instrument. From at least this time to the present, the flageolet in its first form has been called the French flageolet to differentiate it from the so-called English flageolet.[93]

From around , when the London instrument maker William Bainbridge obtained a number of patents for improvements to the English flageolet, instruments were often referred as "improved" or "patent" flageolets with little reference to how they actually differed from their predecessors. In this period, the instrument had six finger holes and single thumb hole, and had as many as six keys. Tarasov reports that the English flageolets of the late 18th century had six finger holes and no thumb hole, and later regained the thumb hole seventh finger hole (see above, right).[90] The English flageolet never reached the level of popularity that the "French" flageolet enjoyed in the 19th century, possibly because the latter instrument was louder. Both remained popular until the beginning of the 20th century.

A significant amount of music was written for the flageolet in the 19th century, such as the etudes of Narcisse Bousquet although much of it was directed at amateurs.

English flageolets that may qualify as recorders are of two types: those early instruments, called "English flageolets," which were actually recorders, and 19th century instruments with seven finger holes and a thumb hole. These instruments are not typically regarded as recorders, however Tarasov has argued for their inclusion in the family.


The csakan (from Hung. csákány 'pickaxe'), also known by the recorder's old French name flute douce, was a duct flute in the shape of a walking stick or oboe popular in Vienna from about to the s. The csakan was played using the fingerings of a recorder in C, and was typically pitched in A or G and played as a transposing instrument. The first documented appearance of the csakan was at a concert in Budapest on 18 February in a performance by its billed inventor, Anton Heberle (fl. –16). Tarasov has contested Heberle's status as the inventor of the instrument, and has argued that the csakan grew out of a Hungarian war hammer of the same name, which was converted into a recorder, perhaps for playing military music. Around , it was highly fashionable for make walking sticks with additional functions (e.g., umbrellas, swords, flutes, oboes, clarinets, horns) although the csakan was the most popular of these, and the only one that became a musical instrument in its own right.[94]

The earliest instruments were shaped like a walking stick with a mouthpiece in the handle and had no keys, although they could eventually have up to thirteen keys, along with a tuning slide and a device for narrowing the thumb hole. In the s a csakan "in the pleasing shape of an oboe" was introduced in a "simple" form with a single key and a "complex" form with up to twelve keys like those found on contemporaneous flutes. Well-known makers of the csakan included Johann Ziegler and Stephan Koch in Vienna, and Franz Schöllnast in Pressburg. According to accounts left by Schöllnast, the csakan was primarily an amateur instrument, purchased by those who wanted something simple and inexpensive, however there were also accomplished professionals, such as Viennese court oboist Ernst Krähmer (–) who toured as far afield as Russia, playing the csakan with acclaimed virtuosity.[95]

Around works for the csakan were published in the first half of the 19th century, mainly for csakan solo, csakan duet or csakan with guitar or piano. The csakan's repertoire has not yet been fully explored. Notable composers for the instrument include Heberle and Krähmer, and Tarasov notes that piano works by Beethoven were arranged for csakan and guitar (Beethoven is reported to have owned a walking-stick csakan). Modern recorder makers such as Bernhard Mollenhauer and Martin Wenner have made csakan copies.[96][97]

Similarities in fingering and design make the csakan at least a close relative of the recorder. Accounts of Krähmer's playing, which report his "diminishing and swelling the notes, up to an almost unbelievable loudness" imply a developed technique using shading and alternate fingerings, far beyond a purely amateur culture of house music. Additionally, Tarasov reports that some recorders by Baroque makers were modified, around , through the addition of keys, including a J.&#;C. Denner (–) basset recorder in Budapest and an alto by Nikolaus Staub (–) with added G keys, like the D key on a baroque two-key flute. Another modification is the narrowing of the thumb hole, by way of an ivory plug on the J.&#;C. Denner basset and an alto by Benedikt Gahn (–), to allow it to serve purely as an octaving vent, as found on many flageolets and csakans. These changes may be archetypal to those found on csakans and flageolets, and constitute an inchoate justification for the continuous development of the Baroque recorder into its 19th-century relatives.[98]

Modern revival[edit]

The "revival"[edit]

The concept of a recorder "revival" must be considered in the context of the decline of the recorder in the 18th and 19th centuries. The craft of recorder making was continued in some form by a number of families, such as the Berchtesgaden Fleitl produced by the Oeggle family, which traces its lineage to the Walch family of recorder makers[99] the careers of the Schlosser family of Zwota. Heinrich Oskar Schlosser (–) made instruments sold by the firm of Moeck in Celle and helped to design their Tuju series of recorders.[] The firm Mollenhauer, currently headed by Bernhard Mollenhauer, can trace its origins to historical instrument makers.[]

The recorder, if it did persist through the 19th century, did so in a manner quite unlike the success it enjoyed in previous centuries, or that it would enjoy in the century to come in. Among the earliest ensembles to begin use of recorders in the 20th century was the Bogenhauser Künstlerkapelle (Bogenhausen Artists' Band) which from to used antique recorders and other instruments to play music of all ages, including arrangements of classical and romantic music. Nonetheless, the recorder was considered primarily an instrument of historical interest.

The eventual success of the recorder in the modern era is often attributed to Arnold Dolmetsch. While he was responsible for broadening interest in the United Kingdom beyond the small group of early music specialists, Dolmetsch was not solely responsible for the recorder's broader revival. On the continent his efforts were preceded by those of musicians at the Brussels Conservatoire (where Dolmetsch received his training), and by the German Bogenhauser Künstlerkapelle. Also in Germany, the work of Willibald Gurlitt, Werner Danckerts and Gustav Scheck proceeded quite independently of the Dolmetsches.[]


See also: List of recorder players

Carl Dolmetsch, the son of Arnold Dolmetsch, became one of the first virtuoso recorder players in the s; but more importantly he began to commission recorder works from leading composers of his day, especially for performance at the Haslemere festival which his father ran. Initially as a result of this, and later as a result of the development of a Dutch school of recorder playing led by Kees Otten, the recorder was introduced to serious musicians as a virtuoso solo instrument both in Britain and in northern Europe.

Among the influential virtuosos who figure in the revival of the recorder as a serious concert instrument in the latter part of the 20th century are Ferdinand Conrad, Kees Otten, Frans Brüggen, Roger Cotte, Hans-Martin Linde, Bernard Krainis, and David Munrow. Brüggen recorded most of the landmarks of the historical repertoire and commissioned a substantial number of new works for the recorder. Munrow's double album The Art of the Recorder remains as an important anthology of recorder music through the ages.

Among late 20th-century and early 21st-century recorder ensembles, the trio Sour Cream (led by Frans Brüggen), Flautando Köln, the Flanders Recorder Quartet, Amsterdam Loeki Stardust Quartet and Quartet New Generation have programmed remarkable mixtures of historical and contemporary repertoire. Soloists such as Piers Adams, Dan Laurin and Dorothee Oberlinger, Michala Petri, Maurice Steger.

In the Charlotte Barbour-Condini became the first recorder player to reach the final of the biennial BBC Young Musician of the Year competition. Recorder player Sophie Westbrooke was a finalist in the competition.[]


The first recorders to be played in the modern period were antique instruments from previous periods. Anecdotally, Arnold Dolmetsch was motivated to make his own recorders after losing a bag containing his antique instruments. Recorders made in the early 20th century were imitative of baroque models in their exterior form, but differed significantly in their structure. Dolmetsch introduced English fingering, the now standard fingering for "baroque" model instruments, and standardized the doubled 6th and 7th holes found on a handful of antique instruments by the English makers Stanesby and Bressan. Dolmetsch instruments generally had a large rectangular windway, unlike the curved windways of all historical instruments, and played at modern pitch.


Nearly twice as many pieces have been written for the recorder since its modern revival as were written in all previous epochs.[] Many of these were composed by avant-garde composers of the latter half of the 20th century who used the recorder for the variety of extended techniques which are possible using its open holes and its sensitivity to articulation.

Modern composers of great stature have written for the recorder, including Paul Hindemith, Luciano Berio, Jürg Baur, Josef Tal, John Tavener, Michael Tippett, Benjamin Britten, Leonard Bernstein, Gordon Jacob

Sours: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Recorder_(musical_instrument)

Wikipedia flute

Pan flute

Musical instrument, typically made from bamboo

"Pipes of Pan" redirects here. For other uses, see Pipes of Pan (disambiguation).

A pan flute (also known as panpipes or syrinx) is a musical instrument based on the principle of the closed tube, consisting of multiple pipes of gradually increasing length (and occasionally girth).[1] Multiple varieties of pan flutes have been popular as folk instruments. The pipes are typically made from bamboo, giant cane, or local reeds. Other materials include wood, plastic, metal and ivory.


The god Pan playing on his Pan flute. Excerpt from the Flemish magazine "Regenboog". Draft for the woodcut "Pan" of Jozef Cantré. Published in [2]

The pan flute is named after Pan, the Greek god of nature and shepherds often depicted with such an instrument.[3]

Panand Daphnis&#;– 1st century BC Roman replica of 2nd century BC Greek original

The pan flute has become widely associated with the character Peter Pan created by Sir James Matthew Barrie, whose name was inspired by the god Pan.[4]

In Greek mythology, Syrinx (Σύριγξ) was a forest Nymph. In her attempt to escape the affection of god Pan (a creature half goat and half man), she was transformed into a water-reed or calamos (cane-reed). Then, Pan cut several reeds, placed them in parallel one next to the other, and bound them together to make a melodic musical instrument. Ancient Greeks called this instrument Syrinx, in honour of the Muse, and Pandean, or Pan-pipes and Pan-flute, after Pan. The Syrinx, a predominantly pastoral instrument for the Greeks, was adopted by the Etruscans who played it at their festivals and banquets; the Etruscans called it fistula. The Romans adopted the Syrinx from the Greeks and the Etruscans, and they too played it at their banquets, festivals, as well as in religious and funeral processions.[citation needed]


The pan flute's tubes are stopped at one end, at which the standing wave is reflected giving a note an octave lower than that produced by an open pipe of equal length. In the traditional South American style, pipes are fine-tuned to correct pitch by placing small pebbles or dry corn kernels into the bottom of the pipes. Contemporary makers of curved Romanian-style panpipes use wax (commonly beeswax) to tune new instruments. Special tools are used to place or remove the wax. Corks and rubber stoppers are also used, and are easier to quickly tune pipes.[citation needed]


The pan flute is an end-blown flute. Sound is produced by the vibration of an air-stream blowing across an open hole at the end of a resonating tube. The length of the tube determines the fundamental frequency. An overblown harmonic register is near a 12th above the fundamental in cylindrical tubes, but can approach an octave jump (8th) if a decreasing taper is used.[citation needed]

According to the Fundamental Principle for pan flutes, the frequency and the length of the tube are inversely proportional. Every time the pitch goes up one octave, the frequency doubles. Because there are 12 notes in a chromatic scale or a full octave, every half-step in a chromatic scale is multiplied by the 12th root of 2 to get the note next to it. By this, it is possible to calculate the length of any pipe, given that one knows the length of any one pipe. The formula for calculating the length of a pan flute pipe is L&#;=&#;(c / f)&#;/&#;4 (the "theoretical length" L equals the speed of sound c = &#;m/s, divided by the desired frequency in hertz f, that quantity divided by 4; this simplifies and rearranges to: Length of pipe (in centimeters) × Frequency (in hertz) = ). Because of a property of compression within the tube, the length must be a little shorter to correct flat pitch. The extra length is helpful for a maker, who can use a cork or plug at the bottom to adjust the pitch. Some instruments use wax or pellets to tune the fundamental pitch of each tube. A tube that has a diameter 1/10 of its length yields a typical tone colour (see Timbre). An inner diameter range between 1/7 and 1/14 of the length L is acceptable. A narrow tube will sound "reedy", while a wide one will sound "flutey". A more exact method is to multiply the bore diameter by and subtract this value from the tube length. This compensates for internal compression slowing frequency and the lips partially covering the voicing. Only tiny adjustments will be needed then to adjust fundamental pitch for air density and temperature.[5][6][7][8]


The pan flute is played by blowing horizontally across an open end against the sharp inner edge of the pipes. Each pipe is tuned to a keynote, called the fundamental frequency. By overblowing, that is, increasing the pressure of breath and tension of lips, odd harmonics (notes whose frequencies are odd-number multiples of the fundamental), near a 12th in cylindrical tubes, may also be produced. The Romanian pan flute has the pipes arranged in a curved array, solidly glued together, unlike Andean versions, which are usually tied together. Thus, the player can easily reach all the notes by simply swiveling the head, or by moving the instrument with the hands. These instruments can also play all the sharps and flats, with a special technique of both tilting the pipes and jaw movement, thus reducing the size of the pipe's opening and producing a change in pitch. A very advanced player can play any scale and in any key. There are two styles of vibrato possible, hand vibrato and breath vibrato. In hand vibrato, the pitch is shifted up and down, like a vocal vibrato. The player gently moves one end of the pan flute (usually the high end) somewhat similar to violin vibrato. Breath, or throat vibrato, which is more accurately described as a tremolo or volume swell, is the same technique used by players of the flute and other woodwinds by use of the player's diaphragm, or throat muscles.[citation needed]


The curved-style pan flute was popularized by the Romanian musician Gheorghe Zamfir, who toured extensively and recorded many albums of pan flute music in the s, and by several other artists who began recording at the same time. Today there are thousands of devoted players across Europe, Asia and the Americas. Both the curved and traditional South American variations are also very popular in Peruvian traditional groups and other Andean music.

In Laos and Thailand, there is a cylindrical version called the wot, used in folk music from the Isaan region of the country. The player alters notes by rotating the instrument with the hands, rather than by head movements.

Some new designs are beginning to appear, as designers and makers take advantage of computer-aided design and 3D additive manufacturing, to move past the limitations of traditional tool and materials. These new pan flutes address some long-standing issues to make it an easier instrument to learn and to play accurately.


  • Paixiao
  • Wot
  • Nai (Romania, Moldova).
  • Siku (instrument)
  • Kuvytsi, Svyryli, Rebro, Nai (Ukraine)
  • A small panflute called chiflo or xipro was used by Galician mobile knife sharpeners in Portugal, Spain,[9] Argentina[10] and Mexico, who blew quick, loud scales to announce their arrival in the neighborhood. They were traditionally bored from a block of wood, but more recently have been cast in plastic.
  • The firlinfeu is a popular folk instrument in Brianza, the province of Monza and the southern sides of provinces of Lecco and Como (Italy).
  • Quills, an African American instrument known primarily through the recordings of Henry Thomas in the s, and the Delta blues musician Sid Hemphill. More recently, Dom Flemons has revived the playing of the quills.[11]
  • Soinari
  • Larchemi

See also[edit]

Notable pan flute musicians:

This is a dynamic list and may never be able to satisfy particular standards for completeness. You can help by adding missing items with reliable sources.


  1. ^"Pan Flute". World History Encyclopedia. Retrieved
  2. ^"Regenboog. Nr.1 Verluid". lib.ugent.be. Retrieved
  3. ^"Panpipe | musical instrument". Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved
  4. ^"Archived copy". Archived from the original on Retrieved CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  5. ^Tulga, Sarah. "Panpipes".
  6. ^Olson, Harry F (). Music, Physics, and Engineering.
  7. ^Price, Lew Paxton. Secrets of the Flute.
  8. ^Benade, Arthur H. Horns, Strings and Harmony.
  9. ^Instrumentos Musicales en los Museos de Urueña: Chiflo de Afilador
  10. ^Clarín - Revista Viva, 28 August , Personajes de la ciudad - El afilador.
  11. ^"Dom Flemons - Susquehanna Folk Festival". Susquehannafolkfestival.org. Retrieved 21 February


External links[edit]

Wikimedia Commons has media related to Pan flutes.
Look up pan flute in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.
Sours: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pan_flute
Ask Gina: Vol 1 - Flute and Music Q\u0026A - Have you ever thought about quitting?


The Flute is a musical instrument.[1] A person who plays the flute is called a flutist.

There are many kinds of flutes.[2] The most common concert flute is on C tuning. In addition, there are other flutes like piccolos, alto flutes, and bass flutes.

History[change | change source]

Flutes have changed over time. Pan flutes were made for many centuries. Later, the "Renaissance flute" came into use. In Baroque musicflute means recorder, so flutes were called traverso in order not to confuse them. A Bavarian flute maker named Boehm reformed flutes largely to enlarge the volume and improve the way of using the chromatic scale. Later improvements created the modern flute.

There is a large repertoire of music for the flute. Baroque composers used them in their orchestras, usually in pairs, and composed concertos, chamber music and solo music for them. This has continued to the present day. Orchestras have at least 2 flutes each, sometimes three or four. Sometimes there is 1 piccolo which plays an octave higher, or an alto flute which plays a fifth lower than the flute.

The flute sounds very bright and cheerful playing high notes. Please listen, for example, to the Badinerie from Bach'sOrchestral Suite no 2. It can also sound very thoughtful or sad when playing in its lowest register. A good example is the opening of Debussy'sPrélude à l'après midi d'un faune also flutes Andre a brass instrument and can make a really low pitch.

Playing[change | change source]

The flute is a woodwind instrument, but modern flutes are made of metal. It was made of wood a long time ago. It doesn't need lip vibration like brass instruments. Flute players hold it horizontally and make a sound by blowing their breath over the edge of the hole of flute's head. This makes the air vibrate. Flutes need the second most amount of air for an instrument, next to the tuba. Flautists can change the pitch by pushing buttons or changing the direction of the breath. These buttons are called keys. The breath also can change the tone or the volume. Flute has many variations of the sound. The sound of flute is high, so composers often express it as a bird. A flute matches with many instruments such as violin and piano, and is often part of an ensemble.

Material[change | change source]

There are many kinds of flute, so the material also varies.[2] Most flutes are made out of silver. Gold, platinum, wood, and aluminum are also used. The price of flute depends on the material, but there are many different playing situations, so not only expensive flutes are useful.

Different Flutes[change | change source]

Flutes of India and China[change | change source]

The oldest kind of side-blown flute was made in India. In India, a flute called bansuri is used. It has no keys and is often made of bamboo or cane.

In China, a simple flute is used, which has no keys. The Chinese flute sometimes has a thin piece of paper over one hole, which adds a bright raspiness to the sound.

Other flutes[change | change source]

There are other kinds of flute, that are played by blowing into the end, like a recorder. Some of these are tin whistle, flageolet, tabor pipe, and ocarina.

In Japan there is a kind of flute called a shakuhachi, which is made from the bottom of a bamboo plant. It is blown at the end, but is not like the recorder because it does not have an opening that guides the air across a hole that makes the sound.

In South America, there is a flute called a quena that makes its sound the same way as the shakuhachi.

The Pan pipes are a form of flute with no holes. It has more than one pipe connected together, with the bottom closed. The player blows across the top of one of the pipes to make a note. The pipes are in different sizes, so that each one makes a different note. They are named after Pan, who played this instrument in Greekmyth.

Gallery[change | change source]

There are flutes in many cultures. The flute has been described as "a musical weed which springs up everywhere".[3]

Famous Flutists[change | change source]

The band Jethro Tull was founded by a flute player (Ian Anderson). It can be heard in many songs. One of them is the hit "Locomotive Breath".

Related pages[change | change source]

References[change | change source]

Other websites[change | change source]

Media related to Flutes at Wikimedia Commons

Sours: https://simple.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flute

Similar news:


Indian flute

This article is about the ancient Indian flute. For the name, see Venu (given name).

The venu[1] (Sanskrit: वेणु; veṇu) is one of the ancient transverse flutes of Indian classical music. It is an aerophone typically made from bamboo, that is a side blown wind instrument. It continues to be in use in the South Indian Carnatic music tradition.[3] In Northern Indian music, a similar flute is called bansuri. In the South, it is also called by various other names such as pullangkuzhal (புல்லாங்குழல்) in Tamil (Tamil Nadu) , oodakuzhal (ഓടകുഴൽ) or kurungu kuzhal (കുറുന് കുഴൽ) in Malayalam (Kerala) and ಕೊಳಲು (koḷalu) in Kannada (Karnataka) . It is known as pillana grōvi (పిల్లన గ్రోవి) or Vēṇuvu (వేణువు) in Telugu (Andhra Pradesh). It is also called as Carnatic Flute.

The venu is discussed as an important musical instrument in the Natya Shastra, the classic Hindu text on music and performance arts. The ancient Sanskrit texts of India describe other side blown flutes such as the murali and vamsika, but sometimes these terms are used interchangeably. A venu has six holes, is about the thickness of a thumb, and twelve fingers long. A longer murali has four holes and two hands longs. The vamsika has eight holes, between twelve and seventeen fingers long.[6]

A venu is a part of the iconography of Hindu god Krishna.

Construction and technique[edit]

A venuis a musical instrument common in Krishna iconography

One of the oldest musical instruments of India, the instrument is a key-less transverse flute made of bamboo. The fingers of both hands are used to close and open the holes. It has a blowing hole near one end, and eight closely placed finger holes. The instrument comes in various sizes. The venu is also a highly respected instrument and those who play it are expected to appreciate it, for it is considered a gift to be able to play it.

The venu is capable of producing two and half octaves with the help of over-blowing and cross fingering. The flute is like the human voice in that it is monophonic and also has a typical two and half octave sound reproduction. Sliding the fingers on and off the holes allows for production of variety of Gamakas, important in the performance of raga-based music.


The flute (Venu) finds great mention in Indian mythology and folklore having been listed as among the 3 original instruments meant for music along with the human sound and Veena (vaani-veena-venu).[7] However it is strange that there is no name mentioned for the typical flute that the Lord plays.

The venu is associated with the Hindu god Krishna, who is often depicted playing it. This kind of flute is mainly used in South India. Lord Vishnu is portrayed as Sri Venugopala - playing the Flute of Creation.

Venu had not been a part of the Carnatic classical music until the pioneering innovations of Shri Sharaba Shastri and later revisions and updates on his design by Shri T.R. Mahalingam (fondly called Flute Mali). Due to the underlying physics of sound production, flutes have a natural "cut" or a discontinuity when going from the lowest note to the highest note. This discontinuity appears between the notes "ga" and "ma" on a Carnatic flute and between "Ma" and "Pa" for a Hindustani flute (mainly because of the fingering technique differences). In order to adapt the flute to Carnatic Music, certain modifications were necessary such as the addition of the 7th hole, usage of thicker walled bamboos, the technique of lifting the head to change the angle of embouchure when shifting between "ga" and "ma" notes. These innovations enabled artists to perform the Carnatic ragas with all the necessary Gamakas and ornamentations without losing the "Bhaava" of the raga.

Difference between Bansuri and Venu[edit]

Often beginners in India find themselves in a dilemma on what kind of flute to begin playing on as India has two distinct kinds of traverse flutes. They are the Bansuri (North Indian Bamboo Flute) and the Venu (South Indian Bamboo Flute). The main differences between these two are the raw material, construction and style of playing.

Raw material preferred for making the South Indian Venu is usually thicker and denser and grows in Kerala or Southern Tamil Nadu. It is darker and produces clear and rich mellow tone. The material used in Bansuri is mostly thin walled bamboo (but longer in length and diameter). It is lighter in color and produces an light airy tone (it is called Jawaari). This bamboo grows in Assam (Silchar). There are also other varieties that are used including Bamboos that grows in the region of Sirsi, North Karnataka, Bihar.

Venu is constructed with 8 playing holes and 1 blowing hole. Of these 8 playing holes, 7 are actually used for playing and the last finger hole is used in tuning. Bansuri uses 6 playing holes and 1 blowing hole. There have been certain artists that have experimented with additional Pancham Hole (thumb hole to achieve the note Pa) and Teevra ma hole at the end. However, standard bansuri usually contains only 6 holes. These differences are mainly to accommodate the different styles of music that are played on it.

The Sa on Venu is achieved by closed the top 2 finger holes. On a bansuri the top 3 finger holes are closed to achieve this note. The way the notes are played is also slightly different. Carnatic music emphasizes the "gayaki style" or "the style of imitating the human voice". Hence the usage of gamakas and andolans require a nimble hold and a way to bend the notes smoothly on a Venu. Bansuri is more suited to Hindustani style of music due to its importance on long sustained notes and fast taans. These two instruments serve different styles of music and hence the difference in playing and construction.

Flute sizes and pitches[edit]

The flute pitch is usually marked on the blowing end. It is denoted either in numbers on a Venu from 1 to 7 with or without (1/2, indicating one semitone higher) or as per the standard Pitch letters on a Bansuri from A to G with or without (#-Sharps/b-Flats). The size varies up to 12 sizes in length, each providing different pitches. The diameter of the flute also varies based on the pitch. With Lower octaves the diameter and length of flute increase, whereas in case of Higher octaves, the diameter and length of the flute is smaller.

There are many custom sized flutes available. Some flutes even go beyond 1 meter length. There is no limit in the imagination of these kind of flute constructions. Few examples are Double contrabass flute, Contrabass flute and Anahat Venu, which can go up to 12 feet.[8]

Even a PVC pipe can be used to construct a flute in a very simple way, simply using common scissors.

Making the first sound[edit]

In order to get an initial sound out of the flute, one can blow air into the embouchure hole. This technique is common for all transverse flutes such as the Western flute, the Bansuri, the Chinese Dizi flute etc.

Musical notes[edit]

Basic 8 Notes playing with
full hole closing/opening

Playing includes a Musical Scale or Sargam, which usually has 7 notes Sa, Re, Ga, Ma, Pa, Dha, Ni; in Hindustani Classical Music. In Carnatic Music, the swaras are denoted as per the Melakarta System.

The Transition from Ga to Pa is an essential aspect which is to be practiced appropriately under the Guidance of a Flute Teacher.

The blowing intensity needs to be changed carefully without distorting the sound.

Extreme strong blows allow the artist to even play few extra notes beyond the range the flute (some times leads to whistle sound).

Angling the flute against the blowing hole , allows the artist to modify and fine tune a note to the original pitch. While blowing the air, the artist can choose either continuous blowing or non-continuous blowing or even use the tough/lips to vibrate the air to play the music.

Half finger closed musical notes[edit]

The artist can use the finger to close the hole half or quarter or three quarter to make different sounds,[9] even though the sound does not falls in the standard keyboard but it is up to the imagination of the music artist to make those sounds.

This technique allows the artist to play almost 30+ notes in one flute. As a standard the black keys in a keyboard can be sounded in a flute with half finger closed on the corresponding hole.

Slow opening and slow closing the hole allows the music curves/pitching to move between one note to another note while continuously blowing, even two/three fingers can be slow closed and slow opened while continuously blowing. This sound curving technique produces Gamak from Carnatic music.

This technique allows the artist to play like a Song of male from the bird Asian koel. This can be related to hard pressing the Veena string to get the bending/pitching note or using a Pitch Wheel in an Electronic/MIDI keyboard.

Venu players[edit]

Of the past[edit]

  • Palladam Sanjiva Rao (), a disciple of Sharaba Shastri.
  • H. Ramachandra Shastry ( - ), a disciple of Palladam Sanjiva Rao.
  • T. R. Mahalingam (), a child venuist prodigy who started playing the flute at the age of five years. He is most popularly known as "Mali" or sometimes "Flute Mali."
  • T.A. Hariharan, Disciple of T.K. Radhakrishnan
  • T.K.Radhakrishnan ()
  • Manda Balarama Sharma, Disciple of T.R.Mahalingam
  • T. Viswanathan (), grandson of Veena Dhanammal and brother of Balasaraswati
  • Cochin Ranganathan
  • B.N.Suresh, () disciple of T.R.Mahalingam
  • Prapancham Sitaram (d)
  • N. Kesi ()
  • Dindigul S.P. Natarajan, Disciple of T.R.Mahalingam
  • K.S. Narayanaswamy, (Flute) (d. )
  • N Ramani (), disciple of T.R.Mahalingam
  • A.V.Prakash ( - )
  • Sikkil Sisters - Kunjumani & Neela

Of the present[edit]

See also[edit]



  • Beck, Guy (). Sonic Theology: Hinduism and Sacred Sound. Columbia: University of South Carolina Press. ISBN&#;.
  • Caudhurī, Vimalakānta Rôya (). The Dictionary of Hindustani Classical Music. Motilal Banarsidass. ISBN&#;.
  • Dalal, Roshen (). Hinduism: An Alphabetical Guide. Penguin Books. ISBN&#;.
  • Daniélou, Alain (). Northern Indian Music, Volume 1. Theory & technique; Volume 2. The main rāgǎs. London: C. Johnson. OCLC&#;
  • Gautam, M.R. (). Evolution of Raga and Tala in Indian Music. Munshiram Manoharlal. ISBN&#;.
  • Kaufmann, Walter (). The Ragas of North India. Oxford & Indiana University Press. ISBN&#;. OCLC&#;
  • Lochtefeld, James G. (). The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Hinduism, 2 Volume Set. The Rosen Publishing Group. ISBN&#;.
  • Martinez, José Luiz (). Semiosis in Hindustani Music. Motilal Banarsidass. ISBN&#;.
  • Nettl, Bruno; Ruth M. Stone; James Porter; Timothy Rice (), The Garland Encyclopedia of World Music: South Asia&#;: the Indian subcontinent, Routledge, ISBN&#;
  • Randel, Don Michael (). The Harvard Dictionary of Music (fourth&#;ed.). Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. ISBN&#;.
  • Rowell, Lewis (). Music and Musical Thought in Early India. University of Chicago Press. ISBN&#;.
  • P, Sambamoorthy (). The Flute. Indian music Publishing House.
  • Sorrell, Neil; Narayan, Ram (). Indian Music in Performance: A Practical Introduction. Manchester University Press. ISBN&#;.
  • Te Nijenhuis, Emmie (). Indian Music: History and Structure. BRILL Academic. ISBN&#;.
  • Wilke, Annette; Moebus, Oliver (). Sound and Communication: An Aesthetic Cultural History of Sanskrit Hinduism. Walter de Gruyter. ISBN&#;.

External links[edit]

Sours: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Venu

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