Types of flutes: the most popular ones and their features

Flutes are wind instruments that have been part of history for a long time and they still fascinate the various generations of musicians. The breath generated by the flutists provides incredible and very striking sounds.

For this, there are several types of flutes that, in addition to their different appearance, emit different sounds and may even require different techniques. Check with us the main types and their features.

1. Transverse flute

Its original name is Western concert flute, but it is known as a transverse flute precisely because of the way it is played (in a transverse position).

Being one of the most well-known and used types of flutes today. It was originally produced in wood, but today it is more common to find it in metal in most of its versions.

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Transverse flute

2. Piccolo flute

Also called the piccolo, the piccolo flute has a name of Italian origin, which can be translated as “little flute”. It is quite similar to the transverse flute, mainly in terms of blowing and fingering.

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The main difference, in addition to the smaller size, is that the piccolo has a conical tube (different from the tube of more modern flutes, which is cylindrical) and can produce higher pitched sound.

Jupiter JPC700 « Piccolo Flute | Musik Produktiv
Jupiter JPC700 piccolo flute

3.  Sweet Flute

Of medieval origin, the recorder was the type most used in Europe until the middle of the Renaissance, before being replaced by the transverse flute.

Made of wood and found in various sizes. It produces a melodious sound and has the characteristic of having a “beak “, which channels the air blown by the flutist.

Yamaha YRS20GG sweet flute

4. Baroque transverse flute

The baroque transverse is also played in a transversal way. But it is different because its use is more limited to the music of the Baroque period – which defines its name.

It is made of wood and has only one key. The instrument was, over time, replacing the recorder within the concert music.

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Aulos AF1 Plastic Baroque Flute (Excellent imitation grenadilla wood flute)
Baroque transverse flute

5. Bread flute

The most distinctive type is the pan flute. That’s because, instead of just one, it has several wooden tubes. They are of different sizes and each serves for a musical note, is closed at one end.

This flute was born from a Greek legend. Where it was said that the sound of the flute was the same as the voice of the nymph and, from then on, the instrument spread to other peoples.

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Bread flute

6. Tin whistle

Translating from English, it means “brass whistle”, which refers to the materials used in its manufacture: cheaper metals, such as copper and nickel. The nozzle is made of wood or plastic.

The origin of this flute is Irish. Although it is very similar to the recorder, the difference lies in the smaller number of holes in the instrument and the smaller number of tones that can be played.

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Clarke Sweetone Tinwhistle D-Major S – Thomann Elláda
Tin whistle

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