The Flute Family
Earliest Instrument Found
The oldest musical instrument yet found is a 60,000 year old Neanderthal flute discovered in Divje babe cave near Cerkno in Slovenia.
Made from the thighbone of a young cave bear, it has four pierced holes. Archaeological research has determined that the size and position of the holes cannot be accidental – meaning they were made with the intention of making music.
This flute is the only one yet found that was definitely made by Neanderthals. It predates other known flutes made by modern humans by some 20,000 years
Picture by Roman Bonnefoy
The piccolo is the highest-pitched member of the flute family, it's range is an octave above the concert flute. It is usually the highest-pitched instrument within orchestras and bands.
The piccolo is a little difficult to play in tune; and is very loud thats why you quite often see piccolo players wearing earplugs.
The most commonly seen flute is the concert flute, sometimes called the C flute. This flute can be seen is in many ensembles including concert bands, orchestras, flute ensembles (choirs), jazz and big bands.
The instrument is pitched in C, it has a range of three octaves and a little over, starting from middle C (C4). Quite often you will see flutes with a longer B-foot joint, which can reach B below middle C.
The alto flute has a distinct, mellow tone in the lower register. The tube of the alto flute is considerably thicker and longer than a C flute requiring more breath from the player. However, this gives it better dynamics in the bottom octave and a half of its range. It is a transposing instrument, pitched in the key of G (sounding a fourth lower than written) with its range starting on G below middle C.
Because of its greater size it can sometimes be seen with a curved head joint.
The bass flute is pitched in the key of C, and one octave below the concert flute. Because of the length of its tube it is usually made with a curved head joint to bring the embouchure hole within reach of the player. It has a comparable register to other instruments such as the clarinet.
A brief history and types of flute