Are you wondering why is a flute a woodwind?
The flute is a woodwind instrument, but if you’re wondering why it’s called a “woodwind” instead of a brass or string instrument, this post will explain the answer!
The reason that the flute is considered to be an instrument from the woodwind family is that it produces sound with air vibrations. This means that unlike other instruments such as violins and cellos which produce sound through strings and metal bows respectively, the flute uses air!
We’ll go through the whole set of criteria that goes into determining whether a flute is a woodwind, and explain why the material it’s composed of isn’t enough to alter its categorization.
- Learn Why Is a Flute a Woodwind
- Frequently Ask Questions
- Conclusion – why is a flute a woodwind
Learn Why Is a Flute a Woodwind
Criteria #1: The Way That the Instrument Produces Sound
Most instruments produce sound by vibrating a string or membrane. These vibrations create sound waves that travel through the air, and our ears detect those as sound!
The flute is different because it creates its own sound by blowing air into a tube. The flute then directs the air surrounding this tube back into itself with holes on one side of the tube. The air that goes through these holes is what produces sound, which our ears then detect as music!
So why is this considered to be “air vibrations” instead of “string vibrations?” Well, the flute’s sound waves are produced by the instrument’s nontraditional method of creating a sound…but they’re still waves! Different instruments produce sound waves in different ways, but they are all considered to be part of the same family.
Criteria #2: A Woodwind Instrument Is Played With a Double Reed
The technical definition for “double reed” means that you can’t have one without the other! A double reed must be paired with another double-reed in order to work, so a single reed is not considered a double reed.
Each reed has its own function: the top one acts as a cap that fits over the bottom one. A player can then apply pressure and open up the space between the two reeds, which causes the sound waves produced by air passing through the instrument to be amplified.
But what exactly is a “reed?” The reed is a thin strip of cane or wood, and the double reed version has two of them! If you want to learn about why these are important for woodwind instruments.
There are exceptions to this rule though, which actually brings us to the answer of why woodwind flutes aren’t considered double reed instruments. The Japanese kōgaku flute is an example of a single reed instrument, while some modern orchestral flutes are also single-reeded due to recent developments in their design!
Criteria #3: Woodwind Instruments Have a Conical Bore
Conical Bore is the name for the shape of a flute’s tube. Instead of being cylindrical like most other instruments, or tapering from one end to another, it widens at both ends and then narrows again as you continue moving downward. This gives the instrument a truncated cone shape which is the reason why it’s often referred to as “conical.”
The conical bore is important for woodwind instruments because it helps to amplify the sound waves produced by the instrument, and also affects how players should position their mouths when playing.
This can get a little complicated so we’ll link back to this article that explains why flutes have conical bores: Conical Bore vs Cylindrical Bore
The final reason why woodwind flutes are considered woodwinds is…
Criteria #4: The Way the Fingers Change the Pitch on a Woodwind Instrument
On wind instruments, the pitch can be changed by closing or covering holes in various combinations. These actions change what’s known as the resonant frequency of air inside the tube, which is what determines pitch.
Because flute music changes pitch by covering and uncovering different holes, it’s considered to be a woodwind instrument (like this guy)!
For other instruments like the saxophone and transverse flute, fingers are raised and lowered inside the holes to achieve different pitches.
Frequently Ask Questions
Here we’re going to cover the FAQ of why is a flute a woodwind.
Q: What’s the difference between a woodwind and a brass instrument?
A: Brass instruments have a conical bore that directs the air to be virtually trapped inside of its body because of how it’s shaped. This means that the sound waves are intensified, meaning that brass instruments are usually louder than other woodwinds.
Woodwind instruments direct air away from its body instead of keeping them trapped, which results in quieter sounds. As for their shape, many woodwinds share the same type of conical bore as brass instruments have implemented!
You can also check out What’re the Different Types of Flutes of All the Time?
Q: What is the name of the musical term for raising fingers inside holes to produce different pitches?
A: Trill, which is also used when referring to a bird’s singing.
Q: What kind of flute does the famous opera singer Andrea Bocelli play?
A: The Ceylonese flute!
Q: When do you use what finger on a flute?
A: You use the pinky finger for notes that require a half step higher than the note you’re currently playing. This means that it’s used on C and D, but not on G!
Conclusion – why is a flute a woodwind
We hope now you can understand why is a flute a woodwind instrument. If you have any comments feel free to share them in the comment box.