Different Types of Flutes – Which One is Right For You?

If you are a musician or music producer, you would probably be interested in getting to know more about different musical instruments.

As someone who makes music, learning about different musical instruments can help you expand your music creation knowledge.

In this article, we will learn more about the different types of flutes.

Flutes are hardly used in modern music. Pop and rock music producers rarely use a flute, maybe because it does not sound suitable for all genres.

The concert flute, AKA, the C flute, is one of the most common and most recognizable types of flutes, but there are more types of flutes that you can probably use for your tracks.

Whether you are looking to learn how to play a new musical instrument or looking for a unique instrument you can use for music production, there are many flute types you can use.

Flute History and Origin

Flute History and Origin - types of flutes and whistles guide

A flute is a wind instrument that is held horizontally across the body to be played.

Some people play it vertically, but it depends on which way they are most comfortable.

The flute has been around since the Renaissance, but the modern flutes that we know today started to develop in the 18th century.

The variations of flutes were invented so that solo flute players can extend the playing range.

Extending the range of the flute did extend the range of notes that you can play, but it did cause problems.

The length and diameter difference of the flute’s cylinder reduced the thickness of the tone.

The lower notes did not sound as full as the earlier versions of the instrument.

Plus, it also affected the overall tone and intonation.

Because trying to add more notes to a C flute caused problems with tone and did not really improve the dynamic range, flute makers decided to resort to developing different kinds of flutes with different sizes and characteristics, hence the different types of flutes.

#1 Bass Flute

Bass Flute types with pictures explained

The bass flute is the least common flute on the list.

Because not many flute players use this type of flute for solo performances, you wouldn’t find much footage of it being played on the internet.

This flute starts at a full octave below C, which produces a really low and full tone.

Compared to a concert flute, a bass flute is significantly larger, with sizes ranging from 50 to 60 inches in length.

It is also a bit heavy, so it is ideal for players to sit down when playing this flute.

The bass flute features a U-bend head joint so that the finger holes are closer to the mouthpiece.

Before perfecting the modern design, the bass flute has gone through a lot of redesigns.

The sound of a bass flute closely resembles a saxophone like tone.

You will find bass flute players as a part of an orchestra or large ensemble rather than playing solo pieces.

#2 Alto Flute

alto flute type with pictures

The alto flute also went through many design changes before flute makers perfected the modern look.

Flute makers wanted to increase its dynamic range to make it more versatile by adding lower notes.

Still, it just is not possible without compromising the position of the holes and sacrificing the tone.

The final design of the modern alto flute was designed by Theobald Boehm, who developed the perfect system that most modern flute players are accustomed to.

Boehm created the ideal system where all the tone holes are strategically placed for comfortable playability.

The alto flute is the product of a lot of trial and error to perfect the exact proportion of keyholes and creating a consistent sound.

An alto flute measures at about 34 inches in length, making it a lot shorter than a bass flute.

This flute is a transposing instrument that is used to play compositions a fourth below the original note.

The alto flute has slightly larger keys.

Rather than using it for playing fast-paced notes, the tone it creates is excellent for adding tone and color to a song.

This flute is excellent for creating outstanding texture and mysterious layers to your tracks.

#3 Piccolo

Piccolo flute - types with pictures explained

The piccolo is one of the most recognizable flute types.

The piccolo is a popular instrument that was used in military marches, and it is a staple for ensembles and orchestras.

The piccolo produces a higher register than an alto flute, which makes it an ideal choice for creating melodies and lead sounds.

The tone goes quite well over an alto flute track, creating a soothing harmony.

The piccolo is smaller than an alto flute, which some players find it difficult to play.

It has a smaller embouchure hole, which requires a tighter and faster air stream.

If you are used to playing an alto flute, you might find it difficult to transition for a smaller flute, such as the piccolo.

The modern piccolos measure at about 12 inches, and it is commonly made from wood, silver, or plastic.

If you want to use a piccolo for your tracks, you can find piccolo VSTs in most orchestra and brass sound packs.

Related Questions:

  • Where can I play the flute?

If you get really good at playing the flute, you can join a jazz or marching band.

You can play it as a hobby or make a living out of it.

You can also do some flute covers of songs and create a YouTube channel.

There are so many possibilities, as there are no boundaries in music.

You can also play solo flute and play at family gatherings.

  • Can I use a VST flute in music production?

Yes, you can use a VST flute when producing a new song.

If you cannot decide where to apply a flute sound on one of your tracks, you can do a little trial and error to see where it fits.

You can create flute melodies or solos on a section of your song.

You can also try to record and capture the sound using a mic if you learn how to play the flute.

Virtual instruments are cool, but nothing beats the organic sound.

In a world full of virtual instruments, using the actual instrument is something you can brag about.

It may take time to capture acoustic sounds in the highest quality, wherein virtual instruments, almost always sound without tweaks.  

Conclusion

Just like learning any new instrument, learning how to play the flute can be a challenge at first, especially if you are transitioning from playing an entirely different type of instrument like the piano.

Even with a VST flute, you will still need to learn how to emulate the playing style and dynamics of how a flute is played.

Despite the challenges, with enough dedication, time, and love for music, you will inevitably learn.

Now that you know the different types of flutes, the next time you visit a music store, you now know which flute to pick up.

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