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date: 25 January 2020


  • Jeremy Montagu,
  • Howard Mayer Brown,
  • Jaap Frank
  •  and Ardal Powell


[concert flute, cross flute, German flute, transverse flute]. (Fr. flûte, flûte traversière, flûte allemande, flûte d’Allemagne, traversière; Ger. Flöte, Querflöte; It. flauto, flauto traverso, traversa). Term used to refer to a vast number of wind instruments, from the modern orchestral woodwind to folk and art instruments of many different cultures.

See also Organ stop .

Jeremy Montagu

Generically, a flute is any instrument having an air column confined in a hollow body – whether tubular or vessel – and activated by a stream of air striking against the edge of an opening, producing what acousticians call an ‘edge tone’ (see Acoustics, §IV, 7 ); flutes are therefore often called edge-tone instruments. The edge is generally referred to as ‘sharp’, although sharpness is by no means necessary and may even be a disadvantage, as for example, on the modern orchestral flute – most makers prefer a slightly rounded edge. The opening is either at one end of a tube, or in the side of a tube or vessel. The air stream may be shaped and directed by the player’s lips as on the modern orchestral flute; confined in a channel, or duct, which leads the air across the hole, as on the ...

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