Acoustics of baroque, classical and modern flutes

classical flute
C foot


Music Acoustics UNSW

modern B modern C classical C classical D classical flared baroque B3
C4 C#4 D4 E4 F#4
D5 E5 F#5


Acoustic and Fingering Schematic
a covered tone hole or key pressed
an uncovered tone hole or key not pressed
a partly covered hole

Details in fingering legend.

Non-specialist introduction to acoustic impedance
Non-specialist introduction to flute acoustics

Impedance spectrum of a classical flute with a C foot measured at the embouchure hole using fingering for C#4. Z is plotted in dB, i.e. 20 log(Z/Pa.s.m-3).

Although there is only one tone hole open, its effect on the regularity of the impedance minima is evident , and it appears at lower frequencies than for C#4 on the Boehm flute.


Sound spectrum of a classical flute with a C foot played using fingering for C#4.

Sound Clip

You can hear C#4 played by Geoffrey Collins.

Fingering legend
How were these results obtained?
Acoustic measurements are available for these flutes -
modern B, modern C, classical C, classical D, classical flared, baroque
Sound clips are available for modern B, classical flared and baroque
To compare flutes, it is easiest to open a separate browser window for each instrument.

Copyright © Academic Press. JSV+ Joe Wolfe, John Smith, John Tann and Neville H. Fletcher, Acoustics of baroque, classical and modern flutes
Revised to include the baroque flute 2001.