Acoustics of baroque, classical and modern flutes

modern flute
C foot

C5, C6 & D#6

Music Acoustics UNSW

modern B modern C classical C classical D classical flared baroque 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


a key depressed
a key not depressed
a part of the mechanism that is not normally touched
Details in fingering legend.

Acoustic schematic
a closed tone hole
an open tone hole

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

Impedance spectrum of a modern flute with a C foot measured at the embouchure hole using fingering for the multiphonic C5, Chalf flat6 & D#6. Z is plotted in dB, i.e. 20 log(Z/Pa.s.m-3).

This may be compared with the fingering for D#6, but with two register holes. It may be considered as the fingering for C#5/6, with enough cross fingering to flatten C#5 a semitone and C#6 a little more. The 4th, 1st and 3rd minima respectively, correspond to these pitches. The 2nd is unplayable.

The C6 is flat. If C5 and "C6" were an octave apart, they would not be recognised as different, simultaneous notes: C6 would be a harmonic of C5.

The Virtual Boehm Flute may suggest other fingerings for this multiphonic.
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.