Flutes

Quick guide to popular Flutes

The Flute

The drum may be the oldest instrument in the world but the flute comes second. The flute is probably the friendliest instrument in an orchestral ensemble. The sound is one of the sweetest, most angelic and dreamy sounds that no other instrument can make. The first flutes were made of bone or hollowed wood.

The modern flute created by Theobald Boehm, in the 19th century. Boehm’s flute was made of wood but wood was not easy to play. By the early 20th century, the metal flute reached perfection. There are different kinds of flute: the piccolo (sopranino), concert flute (soprano), the alto flute (alto), bass flute (tenor) and the contrabass flute (bass).

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Parts of the Flute

The flute comprises of a head joint, a body and foot joint. Other parts include the lip plate and the embouchure hole and the cork.

The head joint is the top end of the flute where located are the lip plate and the embouchure hole. The tip is the cork that needs to be cleaned carefully. A clean cork will allow air to enter the body of the flute and out the opposite end, by sealing it. The cork needs to be protected well and protected against damage to keep the sound from becoming inconsistent and airy.

The body or mid-section is where the keys are found. Cleaning those keys requires a lot of care. In the foot joint, the pinky of the right finger plays the keys. In longer flutes, keys are added for greater range.  Sometimes, a gizmo key is added for clearer high notes.

Some variants have either an inline or offset G key.  This greatly alters hand positioning. When buying a flute, it is best to choose what is most comfortable to play with.

 

The Flutist

The flutist may either be a beginner, intermediate or professional. Beginners need only focus on basics. As they progress, intonation, playability, projection and quality become more important.  Sometimes, beginners get inspiration from being able to play high quality flute.

 

Purchasing a Flute

Often, beginners are advised not to rent flutes. Your own flute is a joy to own. You can buy cheap ones at $180 or the really expensive ones at $3,000.  For beginners, the size of the hands must be considered when choosing a flute to play. Curved head joints extend the reach but those with small hands will prefer one that is easier to play. Plastic flutes are often great for beginners. But for those with bigger hands, a curved head joint can replace the standard straight to allow reaching distant keys.  Beginner flutes are easier to play because they will have a plateau or closed holes on the keys making them sound perceptibly different.  

 

Upgrading the Flute

As they progress, they will look for a open-holed flute for better tone and control. However, transitioning from a plateu holed flute to an open hole is not easy. Sometimes, key plugs are inserted into the holes for faster transition. As his skill progresses, these plugs are removed. These plugs do help but they also lessen the resonation.  Beginner flutes will have either nickel or brilliant silver alloy plating in them. Silver is more expensive of course while nickel more affordable. Upgrades in the foot joint are usually an additional key that extends range to a low B. The Gizmo, mentioned earlier, extends the range to a C beyond the staff.  This C is the highest note for a flute. But a gizmo is not easy to play. Metals make better professional flutes. Metals are more precise, playable and soothing.

 

Lip Plate Upgrade

Upgrades in the head joint are usually not expensive. Upgrades will give you better sound, better reach and better playability. Upgrades will help you avoid buying a new flute when you are still not ready to change the body. Oftentimes, merely changing the head joint gives you a dramatic improvement on your flute tone and responsiveness and sensitivity.  Machine cut head joints are inferior to handcrafted ones when it comes to tonality.

 

Gold Flutes

Rose gold or traditional gold flutes have a richer, warmer and sweeter timber with hefty price as well. The better thing to do is to buy a gold plated lip plate. The lip plate will help produce dramatic improvements as well.

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