High pitched, melodic and soothing is the sound that comes to mind when thinking of flutes in an orchestra or band. How they carry a melody so effortlessly and smooth. Especially, when you’re in a setting such as a concert hall with the spectacular colors of sparkling gold and white. It takes you to a different place that sets you beside yourself.
Personally, I picture a man. An old man with long salt and peppered hair with a beard of grandeur to match. As he frolics and bounds in his loin cloth over the rolling green hills, with his hair like a veil that curves and billows in the wind, I imagine a song so beautiful that he dedicates to the land from which he came. He may have a crown of flowers, I don’t know. Don’t judge. He’s playing a flute fashioned from the femur bone of a juvenile bear and the mouthpiece made from wingbone of a vulture. It is claimed that the first flute was in fact that very flute.
Needless to say, the flute and flutist have come a long way. Paintings of people playing flutes fashioned from bone or wood dates back as early as 200 B.C. From 200 B.C. to the 1800’s flutes were in and out of popular music culture. They changed from bone to wood. Most had six finger holes. They even resembled a clarinet, a conical instrument, for a period of time. The biggest change came from the period of the 1820’s- 1850’s when Theobald Boehm, a goldsmith/ musician/ flute maker made adjustments to the flute that would carry us into the modern day. Boehm added and experimented with padded keys, larger tones holes, a cylindrical body and footjoint. After more trial and error he created the metal flute. Shazam! The modern day flute was created!
Our modern day flute is much the same, save a few changes. Professionals are most likely to be found playing a silver or gold flute. While beginners and amateurs will be found playing a silver or nickel plated brass flute. New flutes can cost anywhere from $100 (from a discount store) – $40,000.
The flute is a soprano, or high pitched sounding instrument that is played by holding it sideways while blowing across a hole. Your fingers open and close key holes which causes it to make different pitched sounds. The flute is commonly played in orchestras, school bands, jazz bands and in some pop bands.
Flutes can be temperamental little things. If not properly cared for your flute can lose its touch on the melodical notes you dream of playing around that warm campfire on a crisp, starry evening with your friends. The pads on the flute (located underneath the keys in which you press) can be torn easily and with that comes a flat sounding flute. Repads can be expensive but are crucial for a proper sounding flute. They can cost anywhere from $260- $2,000.
Points for taking care of your Flute
- Store your flute in a form fitting, strong, clean case.
- Make sure to properly wipe out with a clean cloth and cleaning rod.
- Do your best not to drop it.
- Do not squeeze the key’s while you are putting it together.
- To prevent rusted keys, try not to play in moist conditions. ( oiling keys can help prevent this.)
- Try not to touch the pads, they are temperamental and tear easily.
Stick around and we’ll have tips for buying a new or used instrument. Whether beginner or professional, let us help you. Stop by our shop or visit our contact page with your questions.
Written by Leah Houston