Flutes are part of the Woodwind section of the orchestra. Here is a panshot along the three types of flute - C flute (held), alto and bass:

For comparison, here is the opening of Debussy's Prélude à l'après-midi d'un faune played on bass, alto and C flute in succession:

Ken Smith plays part of Mendelssohn's Scherzo on the bass flute, demonstrating the difficulties of breathing and articulation on the instrument:


The piccolo sounds an octave higher than written:
Unique features:


The flute (or C flute) does not transpose. It has three joints:
Foot joint
Body and Head joint.
How the sound is produced:
How tuning is adjusted:
The first and second octave:
The third octave:

Alto Flute

The alto flute is pitched in G and sounds a perfect fourth lower than written:
Sound production:
The low register:
The high register:

Bass Flute

The bass flute sounds an octave lower than written:
Dynamic range:
The low register:
The mid and high registers:
Playing the bass flute:

The Orchestra: A User's Manual is a free resource and will remain so. It still receives between 8,000 and 16,000 unique visits per month from all over the world. See the testimonials. Thanks to all the donations, I have been able to create this responsive re-design. But the movies and sound clips recorded in 2004 do show their age. I would really like to re-record everything and add many more techniques, especially for solo and ensemble writing. I estimate this will cost around £30,000. If you know a source of such funds, please contact me: a.hugill [at] bathspa.ac.uk