Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Parts of the Concert Flute

Several components make up the flute that work together to create sound.

The concert flute experienced a long history of development to reach its current state of perfection. The modern flute consists of three main parts and several supporting parts that allow the instrument to function properly. A flutist must know the names and functions of each part to perform and care for their instrument effectively. The names of each part only take a few minutes to learn, but will give the instrumentalist the knowledge to discuss the mechanics of their instrument professionally.

Embouchure Plate


The embouchure plate is a small plate attached to the head joint of the flute. It allows the flutist to produce pitch and is where the flutist places their mouth. To create sound, the flutist does not blow into the embouchure plate, but across it.

Keys and Pads


The keys and pads are delicate parts of the flute that require careful handling. Each key has a pad underneath that blocks the flow of sound through the keyhole when depressed. By depressing different combinations of keys, it is possible to create a full range of chromatic pitches.

Head Joint


The head joint is the top portion of the flute. It has an embouchure plate and moves in and out of the body joint in small increments to change the pitch of the instrument. In some modern compositions, the flutist will only blow through the head joint. This technique creates a sharp crying effect that is quite powerful.

Body Joint


The body joint has the majority of the keys and pads, connected in the middle between the head joint and the foot joint. The body requires special care and needs regular cleaning with a cleaning rod. In some modern works, the flutist plays by blowing through the body joint and tapping the keys.

Foot Joint


The foot joint is the smallest part of the flute. It is also the third main part of the flute and attaches to the body joint. The concert flute has two types of foot joints. There is the standard foot joint that typically only appears in student model flutes. The standard foot joint allows a performer to play down to a "C." In addition, a "B" foot joint extends the range down to a "B." The "B" foot joint is available in most professional model flutes.

Tenon


Tenons are the metal parts that allow the flute to fit together. They are on the end of each main joint and provide an option for tuning the flute. According to Larry Krantz, "a better technique is to use air speed variation in combination with air stream direction changes." Still, with slight adjustments these crucial parts of the flute can help a badly out of tune flute play in tune.