The flute, a member of the woodwind family, is an aerophone or reedless wind instrument, that produces its sound from the air flowing across an opening, which typically requires more air to play than any other wind instrument.
Music for the flute is written in treble clef and is pitched in the key of C with a range of three octaves, though some flutes have a special foot joint which allows them to play a few extra notes.
A transverse flute or side-blown flute is a flute which is held horizontally when played. Members of the transverse flute family include:
Piccolo: pitched one octave higher than the concert flute
Concert or C Flute (most common flute): pitched at middle C
Alto Flute: a transposing instrument in G
Bass Flute: pitched 1 octave below the concert flute
Contra-alto Flute: pitched 1 octave below the alto flute
Contrabass Flute: pitched 2 octaves lower than the concert flute
Double Contrabass Flute: pitched 3 octaves lower than the concert flute
Hyperbass Flute: pitched 4 octaves lower than the concert flute
Up until the 18th century, a musician who played the flute was known as a Flutenist, which is no longer used, they are now more commonly referred to as a Flautist or less commonly a flutist or fluter.
Some famous flautists are George Washington, James Madison and Leonardo da Vinci, with Beethoven being the first major composer to use the piccolo.
The flute has varied in its composition throughout the ages and ranges from bone, ivory and wood to silver, gold and platinum. It has not only been a part of our musical history for thousands of years but will continue to be for many more years to come.