The flute is a musical instrument of the woodwind family. Unlike woodwind instruments with reeds, a flute is an aerophone or reedless wind instrument that produces its sound from the flow of air across an opening. According to the instrument classification of Hornbostel-Sachs, flutes are categorized as edge-blown aerophones.
The Renaissance flute is a unique instrument and very different from the flutes of the later years. It looks extremely simple, but has certain characteristics in common that are much different than the flutes of any other period. Although the flute is traditionally known as a folk instrument, the transverse flute was not mentioned in European writings before the middle ages.
Today, the Boehm flute is used in solo playing, studio work, and ensembles of all sizes and is a regular member of the band or symphony orchestra. Due to its popularity much music is being written for the instrument.
Boehm next directed his attention to the shape of the interior of the flute, and in 1846 succeeded in his second greatest achievement - a new bore cylindrical in its lower two-thirds, but tapering in its upper part, where it terminates in a truncated cone.
In 1830 Theobald Boehm, a German watchmaker and goldsmith and an amateur flutist, developed the modern flute. The modern flute reverted back to a cylindrical bore and achieved the desired range and acceptable intonation by elongating the end section above the embouchure hole and modifying the sizes and positions of the finger holes. Boehm also designed the Boehm fingering system, which was a most important improvement in the flute.
By the 12th- century the flute had become a popular German aristocratic instrument used to perform with the minnesinger fiddle. In the 14th century its popularity expanded west of the Rhine river into France.
Historically, the transverse flute has been used for more than a millennium throughout Asia ; in India, the image of Krishna is traditionally represented playing the transverse flute. The Chinese chi is possibly the oldest transverse flute in history. It was used in state rituals in China and Korea at least as early as 900 B.C., and is still used today, mainly in Taiwan for annual Confucian rituals. Played in ensembles, it is supposed to create a sense of harmony and spiritual peace. The embouchure (or mouthhole) is covered with a thin membrane of bamboo or other materials, which creates a slight buzzing sound as you play. In Japan, there are also several transverse flutes associated with traditional Gagaku, Noh and Kabuki theater.
A section of cave bear bone was found in an archeological dig of a Neanderthal campsite that has in it four holes which line up quite closely to the holes that would be needed to make a diatonic scale for a flute. This has lead many to proclaim this the earliest know musical instrument, including its discoverer, Dr. Ivan Turk.
A woodwind instrument that is held horizontally and sounded by blowing across the mouthpiece of the instrument, much like blowing into a bottle to produce a tone. It consists mainly of a cylindrical tube 66 cm. long and 2 cm in diameter. The modern flute is made of metal and is a non-transposing instrument with a range of middle C to C three octaves above that, sometimes more.
The flute dates back to the beginning of humankind. Along with the drum, the flute is one of the first instruments people used to make music--predated only by the drum and the human voice itself. Flutes appear in every culture on the planet in some form, and exist in many forms today as a folk instrument. In Western culture, the flute has evolved to its present state as the metal, keyed instrument we know today.
The "flute family" is the oldest in the category of woodwind instruments. Throughout history the size of the tube along the flutes length has evolved in respect to its bore shape. In the Renaissance the flute was a simple cylindrical wooden tube with embouchure hole and finger holes, stopped at the end above the embouchure hole.