Musical Instruments


Laurel Zucker, Flutist
Susan Jolles, Harpist:

Medieval Dances for Flute and Harp

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Peter Thalheimer &
Collegium Rara Stuttgart:

Die Renaissanceflöte
(The Renaissance Flute)

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How to Assemble Your Flute (to avoid repairs)

Flute assembly

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How to Play the Flute

Flute girl

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Stephen Preston,
Trevor Pinnock
& Jordi Savall:

Bach - The Flute Sonatas

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“Flute music is love music from the heart.
It must not stop, lest the pulsing of the heart be broken.”

~Judith Redman Robbins, in Coyote Woman~

The Flute
— Its History and Evolution —
Part 1

by Kevin Fallon

Kevin Fallon Playing Flute
Origins of the Flute

No one quite knows the origins of the flute. Considering it is the oldest woodwind instrument we know of, it is quite hard to say when it first appeared. The biggest clue is a flute made out of bear bone that was found at a neanderthal campsite. It was estimated to be 43,000 to 82,000 years old and is the oldest instrument known to man.

Ancient Flutes Made from Bones
Opposing Views

Another view on the origins of the flute can be found in Judeo-Christian tradition in Genisis 4:21. According to the Bible, Jubal was the inventor of the flute and the first musician in world history. Thus we have two very opposing views in the world of archeology and in the world of theology.

One of the Most Popular and Beloved Instruments

Even if the origins of the flute are not for certain, one thing is. It is that the flute has survived millenia to become one of the worlds most popular and beloved instruments. The bright melodious sounds of the flute can be found from the patriotic marches of John Phillip Souza to the solemness of medievel motets. One question remains, how did we go from prehistoric flutes made out of bone to the more complicated piece of metal we have today?

The Flute During
the Middle Ages

The flute played a small cultural rule around the world until the demise of the Roman empire. As the dark ages took center stage in history and Byzantium was acculmuating power, the flute started to be seen in larger numbers in the form of transverse flutes and fipple flutes which were played by bards all the way through the middle ages. This early abundance of the flute may have been what has inspired early Renaissance composers to utilize the flute in their compositions as they lay the groundwork for western music as we know it today.

Medieval Flute Made of Wood
Women Playing Renaissance Music

Flute Evolution During the Baroque Era

It was during this period that we saw the first keys being added to the body of flutes. However, the flute still didn't look as we know it today. The real first evolution of the flute body occurred as the baroque era came about. Flute makers in the era struggled to improve the acoustic quality of the flute as they moved the holes around, added keys, and changed the shape of the tube.

J.S. Bach - The Flute Sonatas
Johann Sebastion Bach took advantage of this transformation and wrote multiple sonatas and other forms of music for the flute. Little change took place between the baroque and classical periods because the flute retained a similar wooden structure.

Theobald Boehm
The Modern Flute is Born

It wasn't until the 19th century that we saw flutes tranform into what we know today. A German flute maker by the name of Theobald Boehm started to develop flutes made entirely out of metal. In 1847 the modern flute was born and it included a cylindrical bore with large holes, open standing keys, and a complex mechanism.

This is the end of Part 1.
Stay tuned for Part 2 when it becomes available.