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10 Types of flutes & full explanation

types of flutes

Flutes are found in almost every self-respecting musical ensemble of a suitable type.
It is both an exciting and virtuosic instrument, you can play with a ballad flute, and you can also play fast and spectacular pieces.
Today we will take an in-depth look at the 10 most popular types of flutes that are in use today.
Join us on a journey following the flutes

The history of the flute

Flute is a musical instrument played by people worldwide for thousands of years. The oldest known flute is a simple, bone flute discovered in Germany and is believed to be over 35,000 years old. This ancient flute had four finger holes and has been played similarly to modern flutes.

In ancient civilizations, flutes were often made of wood or bone and used in religious ceremonies and entertainment.  ancient Egypt, flutes were played at temple ceremonies and used to accompany dancers. In ancient Greece, the flute was a popular instrument and was often played at celebrations and festivals.

The modern flute, as we know it today, has its roots in the Baroque period, which lasted from 1600 to 1750. During this time, the flute was made of wood and had a simple, cylindrical shape. It was played with a simple fingerings system and had a limited range of about two octaves.

Over time, the flute has evolved and is now made of metal, has a conical shape, and is used in various musical styles. The development of the modern flute is often credited to Theobald Boehm, a German flute maker who developed a new system of fingerholes and keys in the 19th century. This new system allowed flute players to play a wider range of notes and gave the flute a more powerful, expressive sound.

Today, the flute is a popular instrument played in orchestras, concert bands, and as a solo instrument. It has a wide range of about three octaves and a beautiful, ethereal sound, making it a beloved instrument for centuries.

1. Concert flute

best flute for beginners

This flute is the most common and is played in orchestras and concert bands. It is made of metal, has a thin body, and has a range of about three octaves.
It is played by holding it horizontally and blowing it into the embouchure hole at the top of the flute. The player uses their fingers to cover and uncover the fingerholes, which changes the flute’s pitch.
A lot of breathing exercises are used to achieve better performance.

Let’s get to know some of the most famous concert flute players, Jean-Pierre Rampal, James Galway, and Sir William Bennett. These famous flute players have helped to popularize the flute and have inspired many aspiring flute players to take up the instrument.

The concert flute is a versatile instrument and can be played in various musical styles, including classical, jazz, and popular music. It is often used as a solo instrument but is also frequently played in ensembles such as orchestras and concert bands. The concert flute has a beautiful, delicate sound that adds a touch of elegance and grace to any musical performance.

Choose the flute that suits you and start learning  click here.

2. Alto flute

This is a type of flute with a lower pitch (G) It is made of metal and has a longer, thicker body than the concert flute.
You can sometimes recognize it by its curved upper edge. Still, straight versions are also produced for optimal control over the instrument.

Emmanuel Pahud and Molly Barth are the best-known players of this type of flute and have greatly influenced the playing style and technique.
Many times the alto flute is used in a solo role due to the deep sound it provides,
But you can definitely find him in musical ensembles and concerts
British music makes a lot of use of this instrument, and many mistakes it for defining it as a bass flute because of the lower sound

3. Bass flute

types of flutes

This type of flute is an octave lower than a normal flute, starts with C and usually comes with a curve at the head.
The body of the tool is usually silver-plated.
Despite its low pitch, it is included in the tenor category due to the length of its tube.
Its notes are written in regular flute notation, and sound 2 octaves lower
Playing the flute becomes easier and does not burden the player due to the relatively short tube that is made for it
Various manufacturers over the years have created all kinds of different types of bass flutes to make it easier for the player
Whether it’s support for the instrument in a row or a tool for fingering.
Abelardo Elbise developed a bass flute called the Elbisophone,You are welcome to explore more about it.

4. Piccolo

A piccolo flute is half the size of a regular concert flute. Its notes are an octave higher than the latter, which gives the sounds it produces a unique and bright tone.
Its name comes from the Italian language, where piccolo means small
The piccolo is usually made of ebony or metal
Today, the common piccolo is in the key of C.
The piccolo is a permanent symphony orchestra member and is used many times to double violins.
The composition usually has a maximum of two piccolo flutes. Due to their high sound, use as a doubler for other instruments in the arrangement becomes very useful and yields supreme harmony and overtones for the sounds.
Historical composers such as Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Joseph Haydn included this flute.
Meet some well-known piccolo players whose influences are also numerous in world music: Jeanne Baxtresser, Mary Karen Clardy, and Demarre McGill.


5. Shakuhachi

A musical instrument originating in Japan, the flute is made entirely of one piece of bamboo root.
The instrument is used today for many styles, from folk and traditional music to jazz and folk music.
Playing the instrument requires great skill and finesse. Since the instrument is hollow, it produces an infinite tone of sounds.
Professional Shakuhachi players can produce tinny sounds at any pitch and a dynamic variety of colors for each note with the help of blowing angles and covering different parts of the holes.
The five holes are tuned to a minor pentatonic scale without semitones except in technique
called meri (メリ) and kari (カリ)
The official octave range of the instrument is 2 or so octaves,
But as mentioned, professional musicians produce sounds up to E7 due to the flexibility of playing the instrument
Due to the length of its production and the uniqueness of each piece, the price of the Shakuhachi is higher than usual.

6. Bansuri

types of flutes

The bansuri is an ancient side flute that originated in India and is made of bamboo and metal.
It is mentioned in legends and ancient scrolls in the Indian tradition and is called by other names.
The flute is mainly used in Hindustani classical music
The flute comes with 6 or 7 holes, and in the traditional instrument, there are no mechanical buttons, but the player himself places his fingers on the holes and produces the notes as he wishes
Originally, the bansuri scale was the Indian Swara, with six holes, the seven notes of the scale are heard the root note is played with all the holes closed
By design and construction, every bansuri has a specific key and tonal center corresponding to sa (shadja, natural tonic) of the swara scale.

Keys that the player wants to play are achieved by changing the length and diameter of the instrument as well as in the fingering of the player.
A professional flutist will be able to change microtones and glides by changing the rhythm and intensity of breathing as well as smart finger speed.

7. Pan flute

The pan flute is a flute with several reeds of variable length or width
Usually, the material is bamboo; sometimes, you can also find flutes made of wood or ivory.
The instrument’s name originates from the Greek god Pan, the god of nature and shepherds.
Original pan flute reeds are closed at one end and produce a sound an octave lower than the open side.
In South America, they used to tune the flute by placing pieces of stones or corn kernels on the floor of the fluted reed.
The player blows on the reeds’ open side against the bamboo’s sharp end when playing the pan flute.
Each reed is tuned to a fundamental frequency, and increasing the breathing pressure or stretching the lips allows the player to reach multiples of the fundamental frequency and so on.
Vibrato is performed by the hand (movement) or by the breath
The pan flute has a bright and exciting tone and is used in many different styles of music

8. Dizi

types of flutes

Dizzy is a traditional transverse flute in China.
It is usually made of bamboo, but it has an interesting and admirable twist.
Unlike normal flutes that have a blow hole and finger holes,
In the dizi flute, there is a special traditional hole called “mo kong” on which a stretched material from the inside of the bamboo is glued, and all this to add another tiny hum to the sound of the flute. Simply amazing.
This musical instrument is very common among the Chinese due to its ease of making and carrying it.
Its tone could be more brightly and a bit thick.
The form of playing the instrument is divided into two schools in southern and northern China.
In the northern school, they teach a type of high-pitched flute with clarity and a shrill sound.
In the southern school, the flute is longer and has a more delicate sound
Flute playing is used in Chinese folk music, Chinese opera, and the Chinese Philharmonic Orchestra.


Common questions

What are the 3 main flutes?

The concert flute will surely take first place in C
It is the most well-known flute, and when you say flute, this likely is what comes to mind (yes, this silver stick, lol)
In second place is the bass flute which can be found a lot in concerts and orchestral ensembles, it is always there.
The third known flute is the piccolo. You surely know his sound even if you don’t know him by his appearance. He is tall and small but occupies an important place in filling harmony.
Certainly, there are other types of flutes that we reviewed above, but they are rare.

Which flute is best for beginners?

The concert flute, without a doubt,
is the most familiar and the easiest flute to start with
If you are interested in knowing more about choosing the best flute, see here.
In addition, you can find endless learning content on the web.

Is the flute hard to play?

In the flute, as in any wind instrument, proper breathing training has required
The instrument itself and the technique is not difficult to learn,
But breathing correctly is the first thing to learn if you want to take the learning professionally.

We explain the sound of the flute and explain how to edit it HERE.


The flute is an intriguing instrument; its ability to enter the listeners’ emotions is very high due to its thin and delicate sound.
We reviewed different types of flutes. We passed through different continents and different cultures
explained, researched, and gave you a look at each musical instrument and its uniqueness
hope you enjoyed it and you are wise. Welcome to read more.

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