Then and Now: Flute

Early and Modern Flutes

Renaissance flute, based on surviving instruments from the 16th century. Wood, one-piece construction, cylindrical bore with blowhole and six fingerholes.

Renaissance flute

Baroque flute, late 18th century German instrument and representative of the flutes in use in Europe from about 1720. Wood, four joints with three alternate second joints called corps de rechange. One key. Cylindrical bore in head joint, tapering bore over the rest of the length of the instrument.

Baroque flute

Present-day concert flute in the form it attained by the end of the first quarter of the 20th century. Made of metal with a cylindrical bore, the complicated system of keys and pads is the product of the mid-19th century design innovations of the German maker Theobald Boehm. 

modern flute

The same passage of music played on a Baroque flute (first clip) and the modern flute (second clip) provide a comparison of the sound qualities of these two instruments.

Title: Solo pour la flute traversière--Partita in A Minor, BWV 1013, mvt. 4 "Bourrée Anglaise", by Johann Sebastian Bach; Barthold Kuijken, Baroque flute. Label: Accent. Format: CD. Catalogue#: ACC 20144. Track: 4.

Title: Solo Flute--Partita in A Minor, BWV 1013, mvt. 4 "Bourrée Anglaise", by Johann Sebastian Bach; John Wion, flute. Label: Musical Heritage Society. Format: CD. Catalogue#: 513074K. Track: 4.

(by Roger Vetter)