What are the parts of a flute

Technical structure of a transverse flute

The so-called Böhm flute used today consists of three parts: the head, the Middle piece and the foot.

The Headjoint is used to blow the instrument. This is where the clay is formed and, due to the shape of the mouth hole, material and thickness of the pipe, etc. also the Sound significantly influenced. The plate soldered onto the pipe of the head piece is called Lip plate. It is with the side hole in the tube through the so-called stack connected. Mouth holes are currently being used in a rectangular shape with rounded corners manufactured. The dimensions are mostly approx. 12 mm by 10 mm.

A distinction is made between flutes with C and H-footIn the latter, the range is expanded downwards and, at the same time, the response in the high register is partially facilitated. The following figure shows the difference in length between these two variants and the additional flap for the longer H-foot.

All Valves are located on the middle and foot pieces. The systems of both parts are independent of each other (in contrast to the clarinet, for example).

Another difference between the flutes results from the layout of the keys. First here are closed and Ring flaps differentiated. In the latter, the fingers close holes in the flaps. In this way, a clean hand position is required from the beginner. In addition, this technique allows playing Quarter tones and Glissandi.

Ring flaps Closed flaps

Another distinguishing feature for transverse flutes is the arrangement of the keys. A distinction is made between so-called Offset and inline flutes. The Offset flute has attached the flap for the G on a drawn-out axis so that it can be reached more easily. The picture below shows an inline flute on the left and an offset instrument on the right.

All in all, the instrument passes from more than 150 individual parts. As there are screws, springs, axles, rings, pads, etc.

Each flute features 16 tone holeseach with a so-called stack is put on. The chimney is, so to speak, a short piece of pipe that is inserted into the hole for the grip hole almost perpendicular to the flute pipe, so that the flap closes a flat pipe end.

Since the diameter of the tone holes is larger than a fingertip, the Tone holes always with current flutes closed by flaps (no matter if ring keys or not). The pad in the flaps.

"Normal" upholstery is made of felt, reinforced by a thin cardboard. The top layer of the upholstery forms the so-called "Fish skin"which is not made from fish but from beef intestine.

A more recent development are the thinner ones "Straubinger cushion". These consist of one Plastic tub, and a very thin felt. The end of the clay chimney when the flap is closed is formed by the edge of the tub. The whole thing is finished with a double layer of fish skin.

Straubinger cushions hardly wear outbut fail at some point if the fish skin is defective, due to moisture very suddenly (due to moisture penetrating while playing, which leads to the swelling of the felt). Conventional cushions, on the other hand, are dented over time, which gradually results in an ever greater leakage. A

The Lengths the flute parts are 22 cm (head), 35.5 cm (middle section) and 13 cm (foot). The diameter is 19 mm, with the head parabolic tapered to 17 mm.

A silver flute weighs approx. 680 grams. Sterling silver (92.5% silver) is used to make the flute. Pure silver would be too soft. An alternative is gold (weight then 980 g), usually in 9, 14 or 18 carats.

Another very common material, especially for cheaper beginner instruments, is Nickel silver, an alloy consisting of copper, zinc and nickel and therefore problematic for people with Nickel allergy. In any case, here is at least one Lip plate Made of silver, because the contact with the mouthpiece is permanent and intense, and sweat and saliva can also increase irritation.

In recent years, the spread of Wooden flutes and heads again to. Compared to earlier considerations, e.g. B. in the case of a check, it is now assumed that the material itself is more likely to be insignificant impact on the sound the flute has. Differences arise mainly from the Dimensions, wall thickness and surface properties. The pipe only influences the sound as a resonator; the smoothness of the surface can also prevent or promote turbulence in the air flow. When it comes to the influence of sound, the head and especially the head are the leaders Cut of the mouth hole.

At the Put together of the three parts, the head is aligned so that the Mouth hole is roughly in line with the first small flap of the middle section. The Foot is turned towards the middle piece so far that the axis of the flaps at the foot is roughly in line with the center of the flaps of the middle section.

In order not to impair the delicate mechanics, care should be taken when assembling or disassembling the three parts no lateral forces exercise on the axles. In practical terms, this means holding onto the middle section above the flaps or placing your foot in such a way that your fingers close the flaps and only exert the force exerted in the closing direction of the flap.

  • Rene Leroy: The flute
  • Gefion Landgraf: The flute
  • Pierre-Yves Artaud: The flute
  • Lexicon of the flute
  • Many thanks to Altus Europa Sales for the pictures