The flute, one of the oldest musical instruments, comes in different types. This amazing instrument with soothing sound is popular in many parts of the world. This one of the oldest man-made musical instruments have existed for more than 43,000 years. Over the years, flutes have evolved and today many types of flutes are available across the globe. This reedless, woodwind instrument produces sound from the flow of air across an opening. All flutes are divided into two broad categories- side-blown and end-blown. The modern flutes are mostly side-blown and they all have similar note fingerings. All types of flutes differ in regard to the breath support and embouchure formation required between them. These flutes are also made of different materials such as wood, metal, and plastic composites. The traditional wooden flutes are mostly used by folk musicians. Now, let’s check out the most common types of flutes that are used by musicians, as well as students and hobbyists.
The Piccolo is the smallest member of the flute family, with about half the length of the concert flute. This type of flute is most popular in modern military marches and is also used by composers in orchestral works. The Piccolo is the highest-pitched flute (in the key of C) and plays very high notes which are considered the highest in the woodwind family. The sound of this flute is an octave higher than the concert flute and is used in orchestral scores and opera. However, as compared to other flutes, playing Piccolo can be more difficult in terms of intonation and tuning. Piccolos are made of different types of metals, as well as the hardwood grenadilla.
Alto Flute is a mellow-sounding flute that has many predecessors. As compared to a concert flute, alto flute is bigger in terms of diameter, length, and weight. Pitched in the key of G, the Alto flute needs more air and support to achieve a high-quality tone. Sounding in G, a fourth below the C flute, the alto flute requires a gentler air stream. The Alto flutes are typically 34 inches long and need a more relaxed embouchure than for the C flute. It has large keys that make rapid fingering difficult. This type of flute is more popular among recitalists and is also used in solo and chamber music. The powerful tone of the alto flute makes it smoother than the C flute to create picturesque effects.
The Bass Flute
The Bass Flute is an inch larger in diameter than the concert flute and pitched in the key of C. This less popular member of the flute family sounds a full octave lower than the C flute. Designing this type of large flute is a challenge because it can be tricky to accommodate the long length and heavyweight. Some bass flutes look like a saxophone because they have two bends in the head joint and the fingers holes extending vertically. Due to its heavyweight, the flutist may feel exhausted.