The flute has only been around since the 1800s. In northwestern Slovenia, the flute industry goes way further than the 1800s, almost 43,000 years ago. This flute was made out of a cave bear femur, which Neanderthals hunted. It’s only estimated to be this old, but many archaeologists suggest it could be double that amount. A curator at the Slovenian National Museum had a replica made and had Lubin Makowsky play it.
Moving a bit forward, we see the flute growing up with Renaissance recorders in the 14th century, but still not in the traverse position we’re all accustomed to. It came later in the 1600s when the recorder began to decline, and the Traverso, and the one-keyed flute, came into fashion. One of the last significant pieces written before recorded hibernation was an otherworldly sound in Gluck’s Orpheus and Eurydice.
Flute craftsmen at the time, most notably Tremlett and others, extended the traverse flute range and its total consistency, making it more appealing than the time recorder. But it wasn’t until Theobald Boom in the 1800s that things changed for the flute, receiving a metal body and its scale even more finely tuned. The flute never looked back. Learn more about flute facts.
10 Interesting Facts About The Flute
The flute is a woodwind instrument, which means it’s something that you blow into. You blow across the hole, and it makes it sound. A flute player is called a flutist. Believe it or not, there is a famous flute player that some of you might know. His name is Terry Crews, and he is a flute player. So if you’re ever curious about a celebrity that plays the flute, check out Terry Crews because he does play the flute. Here are some more interesting facts on the flute.
1. Did you know that the flute has existed since the medieval period? Yes, it was made of wood and had holes the player would cover with each of their fingers. These instruments were made in different keys.
2. In the 1830s, Theobald Baim took a liking to the flute and started adding a key mechanism to the instrument. Many players across Europe at the Paris Conservatory took a liking to what he was doing, and that’s how the flute morphed into what it is today.
3. There are six different members of the Flute family. The first one is the piccolo. The piccolo is a smaller version of the flute made out of wood. It also sounds one octave higher than the flute. After the piccolo, we have an E-flat flute. It’s a little bit bigger than a piccolo made out of a metal like silver, but it’s still smaller than the sea flute.
4. In 2008, a flute was found in Germany’s cave dating back at least 35,000 years ago. It was a five-hold flute, and it was a V-shaped mouthpiece.
5. The first ever flutes were made around 30 to 40000 years ago, and they were found all around the world. Many researchers say that the first flutes were made in Germany and were made with wood, bone, ivory, and many other materials like glass and other things like that.
6. The modern-day flute has keys you gently hit to play different notes. But the first-ever flutes had only holes you would cover with your fingers to play different notes.
7. A German inventor created the modern-day flute, named Theobald Boehm.
8. There are the Chinese flute, Indian flute, and many other excellent types of flutes, and they’re made with different materials. The flute also covers three octaves, so the lowest note it can play is C four, middle C.
9. A lot of flutes were made out of bone or wood. Flutes aren’t made out of those things, or not commonly. Nowadays, a flute in an orchestra or a band is made of nickel, brass, silver, and other metals. It depends on the flute’s brand, but those are the metals they’re usually made of. The majority of the flute is made out of silver.
10. The flute is part of the woodwind family, producing sound using wind. So the flute has sound by blowing into the mouthpiece, and then vibrations from the wind travel across the flute. Then you hit the keys to play different notes. That’s what makes it a woodwind instrument.
A flute can be used to play jazz, classical, and many other pieces, depending on tradition, which is a remarkable fact. Here are more facts for you:
One of the Oldest Instruments: The flute is one of the oldest musical instruments, with evidence of its existence dating back over 43,000 years. Flutes made from animal bones have been discovered in archaeological sites.
Wide Variety of Flutes: Various flutes are found across different cultures worldwide. Some examples include the Western concert flute, piccolo, alto flute, bass flute, Native American flute, Chinese dizi, Indian bansuri, and more.
Woodwind Instrument: The flute is classified as a woodwind instrument, even though it is typically made of metal (silver, gold, or nickel silver) or wood. It is considered a woodwind instrument because it produces sound by the player blowing air across a mouthpiece or embouchure hole.
No Reeds: Unlike many other woodwind instruments, such as the clarinet or saxophone, the flute does not have a reed. The sound is produced by the player blowing air across the edge of the embouchure hole and creating vibrations.
Range and Versatility: The flute has a wide range, capable of playing both high and low notes. It is known for its bright and clear tone. The standard concert flute can cover over three octaves.
Virtuosic Repertoire: The flute has an extensive repertoire of solo and ensemble music across various genres, including classical, jazz, folk, and contemporary styles. It has prominently featured in orchestras, chamber ensembles, and solo performances.
Portable Instrument: The flute is a highly portable instrument. It is relatively small and lightweight, making it convenient for musicians to carry and play in different settings.
Circular Breathing: Some advanced flute players practice circular breathing, which allows them to sustain a continuous tone by simultaneously inhaling through the nose while maintaining airflow through the flute.
Notable Flutists: Several renowned flutists have significantly contributed to the instrument and its repertoire. Some notable examples include James Galway, Jean-Pierre Rampal, Sir James Newton Howard, Emily Beynon, and Marcel Moyse.
Symbolic and Mythological Significance: Throughout history, the flute has held symbolic and mythological significance in different cultures. It is associated with various themes, including love, nature, healing, and spiritual practices.
These fun facts provide a glimpse into the rich history and characteristics of the flute, showcasing its versatility and cultural significance.