By Brendan Lai-Tong
When many people think of flutes, they think of a transverse flute, which is typically used in bands and orchestras. The flute has been a part of history for thousands of years and has evolved over that time into the instrument that is often seen today. Here are ten facts you may not have known about the flute:
- A musician who plays the flute can be referred to as a flute player, a flautist, a flutist, or, less commonly, a fluter.
- There are many different sizes of flutes within the flute family: piccolo, alto, tenor, bass and contrabass flute.
- Standard concert flute is pitched in the key of C, and has a range of approximately 3 octaves.
- Alto flute is pitched in the key of G
- Flutes have been made out of lots of different materials throughout history including: bone, wood, glass, ivory, plastic, resin, brass, nickel silver, silver, gold and platinum.
- Theobald Boehm helped create the modern Western flute. He started improving flute design and the fingering system of the flute between 1831 and 1847. Most flutists had adopted Boehm’s changes to the design by the second half of the 19th century.
- George Washington, James Madison and Leonardo da Vinci all played the flute.
- Flutes are considered one of the earliest instruments and date back to Germany over 35,000 years ago.
- Many cultures have their own version of the flute. For example, one of the most popular traditional Japenese flutes is the the Shakuhachi.
- The earliest use of the word “flute” was in the 14th century
We hope that you enjoyed these facts. Please feel free to chime in if you have other interesting flute facts!
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Brendan Lai-Tong holds degrees in trombone performance from University of Miami and the San Francisco Conservatory of Music.