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The flute and piccolo are played by passing air across a blowhole which contributes to their characteristic breathy sound.  Notes are produced by using a series of levers and stops to open and shut holes along the length of the flute. flute

There are several sizes including the Alto flute (in G) whose mellow tone produces an atmospheric quality popular in jazz and film music and the Bass flute which has a haunting ethereal sound.

The flute and piccolo share similar fingerings but the piccolo's range extends one octave above that of the flute and is the highest instrument of the orchestra.

fluteA difficult instrument requiring technical expertise to express individual style, the flutes airy, wispy quality is difficult to use with electronic music although it was used effectively by Jethro Tull, Herbie Mann and Roland Kirk who popularised the 'grunt flute' which is basically singing into the flute as you are playing.

Whilst its popularity still remains mainly with Jazz and Classical music, the flute family are particularly suited to acoustic folk music where intricate melodies can be incorporated into a simple song effectively.

Flute Humour

Two musicians are walking down the street and one says to the other,
"Who was that piccolo I saw you with last night?"
The other replies, "That was no piccolo. That was my fife!"

Q: What's the definition of a minor second?
A: Two flutists playing in unison.

Q: What is perfect pitch on a flute?
A: When it misses the rim of the toilet as you throw it in.

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