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The Flute Advancement and Its Invention Essay

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Updated: Dec 9th, 2019

Introduction

The flute is a musical instrument that has shown notable improvement from its original model. The sound outcome has been improved and has become notable as Phelan (2004) says. This essay identifies flute advancement and will investigate the time and circumstances that led to the invention. The discussion highlights how it affected the field of art at the time of invention and the changes it has caused in the present day as well as the effects later.

Advancement of flute in the Humanities


The flute is a musical instrument that man has used for a long time. Archeological discoveries reveal that one of the earliest flutes was dated over 35 centuries ago as Toff (1985) points out. The flute had two to three holes on top, with a v-shaped mouth piece. Late discoveries indicated that the instrument had modifications and the holes were variedly increased up to eight and could be on the side.

Flutes that were discovered later on indicated that the musical instrument had more holes and included modified features such as stoppers and holes could be on the sides. They also had different shapes and were made of different materials. The flute had stoppers and was longer. The musical instrument was used by various cultures and was incorporated in people’s daily lives, where both men and women of different ages could play it.

Putnik (1970) observes that the flute is a musical instrument categorized as wood and wind instrument. It produces sound with the flow of air. This happens when the air passes through the holes and vibration of air in the directed holes produces sound. The pitch is modified by closing and opening specific holes to produce desired sounds, as well as regulate the length and frequency.

Air pressure can be used to vary the pitch, without closing or opening the holes. The volume of the flute is dependent on the resonator’s size, the size of the air stream or the velocity of the air stream. For vibration to occur, specific angle of air stream and velocity should be administered.

Boehm (1964) mentions that, with an aim of making and the flute advanced, various cultures tried to modify the musical instrument. In its original form, most flutes were made from bones, bamboo or horn, to be covered with one or more fingers when using. Some of the modification made on the flute involved changing the material that was used to make it.

In the present day, specific alloys of metals have been identified to make the musical instrument. The motive of choosing the specific alloys is to improve the quality of the instrument. It is noted that wood is still being used in the manufacturing of flute to develop a specific tone.

The advancements of the flute in search of a refined instrument led to two families of flute. The first involves the use of air blown from one’s mouth. The second involves the use of blocks, which are situated on the outer side of the flute. The transverse is commonly used by the orchestras (Toff, 1985)..

Another noteworthy advancement is the inclusion of keys in the flute. The motive was to adjust the mechanism and the speed of air passage while causing accurate intonation. One key was developed on the right hand and later adjustments on the other keys were made after conducting tests.

Manufacturers designed modified keys and came up with models that were superiors to the previous ones. Advancements have emerged to make the modern flute superior to previous models that had a few octaves.

Toff (1985) notes that the flute is considered one of the instruments that can be played by both genders. The advancements have come along with civilization and the musical instrument is taught in academic institutions. The flute is versatile and can produce different tones, ranging from high to low registers.

Additional advancement of the flute has caused standardization of the musical instrument in the twenty first century. Some flutes have one open end while others have both ends open. The advancement is to create harmony and clarity of sound for the instrument.

Some of the flutes have one resonator while have others have multiple resonators. The number of resonators determines the strength of the flute. Those with multiple resonators are capable of producing a wide range of sounds (Crane, 1972).

Modification of the flute has enabled the flutist to use different sources of air when playing the instrument. Most cultures use the mouth to blow, while a few cultures have used the nose. Advancement of flute pipes has led to blowing of the flute by use of fans or bellows (Putnik, 1970).

Circumstances that have led to improvement of the flute include the desire to make accurate sounds, tones, and pitches. Experimentation to attain improved and accurate tones became a success and caused improvement of the instrument. Users wanted to make the use of flute easy and this became a success when modifications resulted in new ways of blowing the air with a fan. The need to create flexibility for the user when presenting and creating harmony stimulated invention.

The advancement of keys was established in the 19th century, a period that has been considered to be between Theobold and Baroque periods. The advancement of the keys, with the assistance of flutist, helped the manufacturers develop quality models. The twentieth century advancements emphasized the development of different alloys to make the instrument.

The twenty first century has witnessed further advancement in the range of the pitch and the tone that the flute can make. The flexibility of the flute has caused it to use the instrument to make a wide range of sounds with the new models (Maynard 1971).

Eighteenth century flutes had one key, which was used in a complicated way to give the desired tone. Their sounds were not refined and this caused more flutists to investigate on ways of improving the sound. The complicated way of folk fingering was eliminated when more holes were made on the flute and more keys were added.

The need to improve the flute came with modernization. Since some of the users used it when hunting and making magical rituals, the use changed and became leisure oriented. Soldiers no longer use the flute and the need to improvise and make it useful for leisure became imminent. Flutes increasingly became popular and flutists had the desire to make accurate musical sounds that were clear and pleasing to the audience.

Boehm (1964) developed one of the most competent modifications of the flute in the 19th century. Because developments of the flute had changed from circular to different shapes, he reverted to the circular shape. The modification achieved the desired range sounds, tones, and intonations. This was established by the invention that saw the flute embouchure hole being elongated.

The sizes of the holes were configured differently so that they could be used in pitch modification. The positions were adjusted for easy access by the flutist and to make the desired sounds. The fingering innovations became another advancement that caused success in the musical instrument.

In modifying the flute, one of the materials that were used instead of metal is wood. Wood had been used to make ancient flute and was abandoned in the evolution of a modern flute. Depending on the needs of the flutist, some made flutes from silver and gold, while others used different alloys. Besides making the instrument presentable and colorful, the flutist wanted to experiment if there was an improvement. Some of the flutists believed that flutes made from metal were the best.

In the course of experimentation, some flutists discovered that placing wood in the flute would improve on the sound produced. Consequently, the practice of using wood has been adopted in the modern manufacturing of flutes. Wood is believed to cause an effect that allows the flute to produce specific sounds (Galway, 1982).

The flute is part of the humanity since it has been used in early days as part of people’s culture. Consequently, culture dictates individual’s behavior in a society. Playing of flute is considered in many societies and has been used during various events such as wedding ceremonies and during funerals. Most of the people who played the flute were men (Phelan, 2004).

Advancement in other areas of life also triggered innovativeness with the flute instrument. Recording has become popular, with most of the musicians embracing the new technology. The need to refine and perform harmonized musical sounds inevitably stimulated growth in the music industry.

The flute has been used in late times in recording and performance of orchestra. The musical sounds produced and tones have successfully demonstrated the benefits of the advancements. Although people have not been keenly involved in the development of the flute, loss of attachment to cultural practice can be seen as the major cause. Vey few individuals are involved in playing the flute. In some cultures, the flute is viewed as a sign of culture and identity (Galway, 1982).

Unlike in the past, the flute is now played in a classical and modern setting. Before, flutists played the instrument as part of leisure. Others played while herding, while others played during significant occasions. The instruments enhance social relations and bring people together in cultural events. The lute is a powerful musical instrument that requires skill to play.

In future, the flute is likely to become an outstanding musical instrument. Its transformation in advancement shows that more inventions could be made and the musical instrument can be improved. There are more developed scales in music and notes that have been recorded. This implies that there is room for growth of the flute instrument (Phelan, 2004).

Conclusion

The flute has become a notable advancement from the ancient age to the modern times. Its advancements have led to better sound, tone, and pitch quality. The shapes and designs have changed, with its use becoming easier. The flute is part of humanity, since it has been used in different social settings in the past and the present. Flutists can obtain education on its use and get the best quality flutes for their own benefit.

References

Boehm, T. (1964). The flute and flute-playing in acoustical, technical, and artistic aspects. New York, NY: Dover Publications.

Crane, F. (1972). Extant medieval musical instruments: A provisional catalogue by types. Iowa City, IA: University of Iowa Press.

Galway, J. (1982). Flute, Yehudi Menuhin music guides. London, UK: Macdonald.

Maynard, W. J. (1971). The Dayton C. Miller flute collection. New York,NY: Brookville.

Phelan, J. (2004). The complete guide to the flute and piccolo (2nd ed.). Oberlin, OH: Conservatory Publications.

Putnik, E.V. (1970). The art of flute playing. Los Angeles, CA: Summy-Birchard.

Toff, N. (1985). The flute book: A complete guide for student performers (3rd ed.). New York, NY: Oxford University Press.

Annotated Bibliography

Maynard, W. J. (1971). The Dayton C. Miller flute collection. New York,NY: Brookville.

William Maynard discusses the contribution of a successful career of a renowned scholar in musical instrument Miller. The discussion portrays works of miller, who was keen on the flute purchase, manufacturing date and kept a collection. The works reveal history and effects of advancement and evolution of the flute.

Phelan, J. (2004). The complete guide to the flute and piccolo (2nd ed.). Oberlin, OH: Conservatory Publications.

James Phelan uses his knowledge in mechanical engineering to explain parts of a flute, its maintenance. The book describes developments and differences between different designs. It gives reasons for different actions to be taken in the construction and maintenance of the musical instrument.

Putnik, E.V. (1970). The art of flute playing. Los Angeles, CA: Summy-Birchard.

Edwin Putnik has contributed in writing to education and professional musical performers with knowledge on the musical instrument. His book provides basic and technical skills for new and knowledgeable flute players. Details of various uses of flute in different times have been presented.

Toff, N. (1985). The flute book: A complete guide for student performers (3rd ed.). New York, NY: Oxford University Press.

Nancy Toff is an award winning author of the National Flute Association Service Award (USA) and is also a researcher, writer, lecturer and consultant for different Art Museums in United States. In this book, Toff provides information on manufacturing refinement and technological advancement of flute. She extensively covers the history of flute and best practices in the present day.

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