Recording Studios Sydney: The flute is the oldest woodwind instrument, dating to 900 B.C. or earlier. The first likely flute was called the “ch-ie” and emerged in China.
Recording Studios Sydney: Early Flutes
Early flutes were played in two different positions: vertically, like a recorder, or horizontally, in what was called the transverse position. The transverse flute first arrived in Europe with traders from the Byzantine Empire during the Middle Ages and flowered in Germany, so much so that it became known as the German flute.
Recording Studios Sydney: Flutes in the 1100s and 1200s
During the 1100s and 1200s, the flute was widely used in courtly music and saw use as a military signaling and marching tool. Swiss mercenaries helped popularize it in the 1300s.
During the Renaissance, it became fashionable for amateur flute players to practice and play together with what was known as “consort music” in cultured homes. The flute was an important part of these groupings. By 1600, plucked and bowed instruments were combined with flute in mixed consort music.
During this period, Italian and Netherlands flute makers experimented with the size of the flute’s bore, added an E flat tone hole and divided the flute into sections that made storage and travel easier. France’s Louis XIV was a big fan of the sound of this flute, as it was known as having a romantic, sweet tone.
Recording Studios Sydney: Flutes in the 1600s and 1700s
The late 1600s and 1700s saw a solo flute repertoire emerge, giving players music that featured a range extended below the usual high register melodies. It also called for the player to add more individual character to each part. Composers like Vivaldi, Bach, Handel, Telemann and Blavet wrote extensively for the solo flute and professional players such as J.J. Quantz began to find success traveling from area to area performing concerts on the baroque flute.
Recording Studios Sydney: The Modern Flute
Around 1750, London instrument makers took the baroque flute and added a system of flute keys, while also increasing the taper of its bore. The result was an even stronger lower register and more solid tuning. By the end of the century, the keyed flute was almost universally adopted. Every country had its own style of keyed flute and hosted visiting artists from other countries to show off their repertoire, instrument and skill. J.G. Tromlitz, a German flautist, was well known at the time as a virtuoso who performed on a keyed flute of his own personal design.