The concert flute

(Source: The Magic Flute)


His story


The flute is one of the oldest of all instruments. The first who had emerged not simply as a musical, and their strident sounds were used to frighten enemies and evil spirits (yes, you read that right), or raise the alarm. The flutes were also associated with hunting and used as decoys, to imitate the cry of an animal.

The first flute came in many sizes, soprano, alto, tenor and bass,
as shown in the picture above from 1545!


The first European flutes had a terminal mouth, like the current recorders; modern flute with a mouthpiece side is called "transverse" because it is bound to parellel lips. We know that the flute was already used in China three thousand years ago, but its origin is perhaps even more distant. The instrument known to the ancient Greeks, reappeared in Europe nine hundred years ago, in the form of military fife.



In France, during the second half of the seventeenth century, a family of instrument makers , the Hotteterre, perfected many wind instruments, including the transverse flute. The new model consisted of three parts or "segments". The flutist could adjust the instrument by sliding the headrest up or down. The finger holes were made more accessible by bringing them closer and further from the hole was fitted with a "key".


Illustration from the first manual on the art of flute Jacques Hotteterre, representing a flute tapered to a single key.

In Europe during the eighteenth century, fashion was a very melodious music and pleasing to the ear, with an accompanying light. The composer discovered the flute, redesigned and enhanced, perfectly met these requirements. Often these were composers and performers themselves, as members of high society wanted to learn to play this instrument, many of whom were also teachers.

The sound of the flute cross was more powerful than the recorder, and therefore more appropriate to the orchestras of the time, more important.


During the eighteenth century, the flute enjoyed increasing success with amateurs
professional musicians.


Today, the pitch is the same worldwide, but in the early eighteenth century, it ranged from one place to another, and even an orchestra to another. The flute players could not change the tone of their instrument, endowed as it does the flute of a fourth segment, removable and variable length. By extending the instrument, it lowered the tone, by shortening it, we shrugged. These interchangeable segments were called "body parts". But the flute still exhibited the defects that the manufacturers were determined to eliminate. Some notes, for example, were false because the hole was too far away for the fingers can reach it easily. We added new keys to try to remedy this unsatisfactory situation.

In the late eighteenth century, the instrument would find its final form through the flutist Theobald Boehm . With some modifications, the Boehm flute is the most commonly used today.

Creation date : 06/02/2009 13:27
Last update : 16/03/2009 18:17
Category : - Instruments-Woods
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Theobald Boehm

Theobald Boehm (April 9, 1794 to November 25, 1881) is a musician - flute to the Court of Bavaria - composer, instrument maker of music, acoustics and inventor of Bavaria.
The son of a goldsmith, he is best known for having developed the flute as we know it today.
He developed the first flute in 1832 "Boehm system" (as opposed to previous systems, so-called "simple systems"), which is adopted by famous flautists of the time, but also meets strong opposition, including that of John Louis Tulou the Paris Conservatoire.
In 1847, he built his first metal flute, whose body was cylindrical bore and conical head. It is this instrument that will give birth to the modern flute.
The Boehm system was applied with varying degrees of success to other wind instruments of the woodwind family, especially the clarinet.



In western music, the word means a tone scale music belonging to the tonal system.

  • Caught in a broad sense, the word "tone" can refer to the tonal system as a whole.
  • The word can also take the direction of height, its fundamental to some instruments.
  • The word tone can be used as a synonym for tone.

A tone is defined as the set of intervals, melodic and harmonic as well, between hierarchical levels of a given scale compared to its fundamental level, called tonic. A tone is characterized by both the tonic and its mode.
Each key is constructed from the diatonic scale.

The tone is also a means to locate a musical instrument in relation to C reference.
The flute, violin or piano are in C, that is to say that when the C is played, it really means to do. The B-flat trumpet sounded really flat so when playing a do. The horn (in F) is heard when playing an F do.

The tone is very important because it will allow transposition and transcription of partitions in C in tones of instruments with different pitches.

Some instruments and their tone:

  • Ut: Piano, strings, flutes and piccolo, oboe, bassoon, C trumpet, trombone, tuba, bass tuba.
  • D flat: the old piccolos.
  • Re: Trumpet in D.
  • Eb: alto saxophone and baritone, small bugle, horn in E flat, alto (small tuba), clarinet, bass tuba.
  • F: Cor.
  • Sol: Trumpet in G.
  • The: Oboe d'amore, the trumpet.
  • Bb: soprano saxophone, tenor tuba (euphonium and baritone), B-flat trumpet, flugelhorn, clarinet, bass tuba (bombardon).