The Three Main Parts of the Flute

The flute is a virtuosic instrument that flutists can play extremely fast.

The flute is one of the most versatile and virtuosic instruments in the orchestra. Flutists must familiarize themselves with the parts of the instrument and how those parts function in the overall structure of the instrument. Several smaller components compose the main three parts of the flute. Knowing their names and functions will enable the flutist to take better care of the instrument and talk competently about the flute's construction.

General Construction

The flute's three main parts can be taken apart. This capability has several benefits. Separating the parts makes it easier to clean the flute, provides the possibility of tuning the instrument, makes it more compact for travel and allows the flutist to incorporate advanced techniques such as blowing through the head joint alone.

Head Joint

The head joint of a flute has an embouchure plate that the flutist blows through to produce sound. By pushing the head joint farther into the body joint, or pulling it away from the body joint, the flutist can tune the flute either sharp or flat. The head joint slides into the body joint.

Body Joint

The body joint is the main part of the flute and houses the keys for the majority of the flutist's range. This part has several components including keypads for each of the keys and a tenon at the end the body joint that slides into the foot joint. The tenon is important since it adjusts the intonation of the flute.

Foot Joint

The foot joint is the third part of the flute. Professional flutes will have a foot joint that is capable of playing down to a B just below middle C. Student flutes usually have a foot joint that is capable of just going down to middle C. Various pieces require the use of the extended foot joint as they use a low B in the composition. "Chilled for Solo Flute" by Kevin Ure and "Density 21.5" by Edgar Varese both use a low B in the music.


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