Acoustics of baroque, classical and modern flutes

a compendium of impedance spectra, sound spectra, sounds and fingerings

Joe Wolfe, John Smith, John Tann and Neville H. Fletcher
modern flute with a B foot
Music Acoustics UNSW
 modern B   modern C   classical C   classical D   classical flared   baroque 
A modern flute with a B foot. A modern flute with a C foot. A classical flute with a C foot. A classical flute with a D foot. A classical flute with a flared foot. A baroque flute.

This study compares measured acoustical properties of flutes and the sounds they produce. The modern B, classical flared and baroque flutes are studied in greatest detail. Classical and modern flutes are described in The anatomy and evolution of the flute. For scientific reports, see

The configuration produced by depressing a particular set of keys (and/or covering finger holes) is called a fingering. Each fingering may produce one or several notes and/or chords. The note or chord produced depends on the interaction between the air jet from the player's mouth and the acoustic impedance at the input of the flute. We give impedance spectra and sound spectra for several dozen of the most common fingerings on these flutes.

These data in the tables are published in the first of the three papers listed above. For non-specialist readers, there is an introductory article about sound and How Woodwind Instruments Work. There is also an introduction to flute acoustics and acoustic impedance.

Classical and baroque flute: made by Terry McGee, Canberra, Australia
Industrial collaborator:  Mark O'Connor of Lehner Flutes Australia and The Woodwind Group
Flutist collaborators: Jane Cavanagh of the UNSWO
  Matthew Ridley
  Geoffrey Collins of the Australia Ensemble
au wav mp3 RealAudio avi You can hear Geoffrey play some Debussy.

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Joe Wolfe John Smith John Tann Neville H. Fletcher

Recent additions
other flutes, fingerings, pages...


Copyright © Academic Press. JSV+
Revised to include the baroque flute 2001.
Supported by the Australian Research Council