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Concert flute - Brief Description


Flute, concert flute
German: Große Flöte, Querflöte
French: flute (traversière)
Italian: flauto (traverso)

The concert flute is an edge-tone instrument and consists of three pieces of tubing: the headjoint, middle joint (body) and footjoint.

The lip plate and embouchure are set in the conical headjoint. If the embouchure is set on a little plateau it is known as a reform embouchure. This slight elevation facilitates attack, which makes it especially popular with beginners. The upper end of the headjoint is closed by the stopper, which is movable and enables slight adjustments to intonation.

The cylindrical body contains most of the tone holes and the keywork . Pulling apart the headjoint and body has the effect of a tuning slide: the overall tuning of the instrument can be lowered by about an eighth tone.

The footjoint, a short cylindrical piece of tubing at the lower end of the flute, contains the tone holes for the lowest notes. The C footjoint is standard; with this notes from Eb4 to C4 can be played. By replacing it with a B footjoint B3 becomes playable as well.

The modern orchestra or concert flute features the Boehm key mechanism and possesses either open or closed keys. On models with closed keys, all the keys have cups fitted with pads of felt and gut. These pads are the instrument’s Achilles’ heel; they are extremely sensitive to changes in temperature and dryness and are quick to shrink, which means they no longer make the tone holes entirely airtight.

The open-keyed flute is also known as the French model or ring keyed flute. Five of the keys on this flute are perforated. The corresponding tone holes are therefore not covered by cups but by the flutist’s fingertips, which enables more effective control of timbre. Many flutists prefer to perform contemporary works on the open flute because it is better suited to modern playing techniques such as glissandi and quarter tones.

In keeping with the trend for using original instrumentation for the performance of historical pieces, wooden flutes in the baroque and classical styles are once again being made in larger numbers. When it comes to the influence of the material – wood or metal – on the timbre and response, opinions differ widely. Scientific studies have shown that it is of little significance; a wooden flute can sound just as “bright” as a sterling silver one.

Today there is a very clear movement toward international standardization of flute-playing style. Since the 1940s the French school with its ideal of a full and brilliant sound with vibrato has, quite literally, set the tone.

Aerophone, edge-tone instrument without fipple, woodwind instrument

Silver, nickel silver, gold, platinum (less usually grenadilla, coco wood or a combination of wood and metal)

Rectangular with rounded corners

Length 67–68 cm, mostly cylindrical, straight

Medium, inner diameter approx. 19 mm

Boehm mechanism
Open keys (French model)