Flute Acoustics

A site dedicated to understanding the flute

Where to start

Introduction to flute acoustics is just that, and a good place to start. If you can't remember much about sound, try the introduction of How do woodwind instruments work? If you strike a term or idea you don't know, try the Basics list on the navigation bar .

Services for flute players and composers

The Virtual Flute offers alternate fingerings for awkward passages and trills, microtone fingerings and multiphonics, ranked by pitch or playability.

Data for each note: Acoustic response, Spectra, Sound files and Fingering

modern B modern C classical C classical D classical flared baroque B3 B3
C4 C#4 D4 D#4 E4 F4 F#4 G4 G#4 A4 A#4 B4
C5 C#5 D5 D#5 E5 F5 F#5 G5 G#5 A5 A#5 B5
C6 C#6 D6 D#6 E6 F6 F#6 G6 G#6 A6 A#6 B6
C7 C#7 D7 D#7 E7 F7 F#7 multiphonics

We have measured these on several types of flute, for standard fingerings, some non-standard and some multiphonics. The acoustic response tells us how easily the flute responds to every frequency. For explanations, see What is acoustic response and why is it important? See also What is a sound spectrum?

Comparisons of different flutes

Boehm with B foot, Boehm with C foot, Classical with C foot, Classical with D foot, Classical with flared foot, Baroque Flute.
There is also a page on the Shakuhachi.


The way in which these measurements were made is given in this paper. The impedance measurements Z(f) are available here for B foot Download file; B foot multiphonics Download file; C foot Download file; C foot multiphonics Download file; Classical Download file. The top row lists the fingering names, following the nomenclature used in the graphical displays linked above for notes and multiphonics. Column 1 is always frequency. Columns 2, 3 etc are the different notes or multiphonics. Z is complex and the spreadsheet has four sheets. In the downloading Excel file, sheets 1, 2, 3 and 4 give respectively |Z|, arg(Z), Re(Z) and Im(z).

More resources

This research is supported by the Australian Research Council, the Australia Council for the Arts and The University of New South Wales, as well as flute maker Mark O'Connor of The Woodwind Group, classical flute maker Terry McGee, and flutists Geoffrey Collins and Jane Cavanagh.

Research and scholarship possibilities in music acoustics at UNSW


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Joe Wolfe / J.Wolfe@unsw.edu.au
phone 61-2-9385 4954 (UT + 10, +11 Oct-Mar)
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