How does the flute work?


Quick Answer

A flute works by blowing air across the mouthpiece, which creates vibrations that make the sound. The musician makes different notes by covering the holes in the flute.

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Full Answer

The flute is a member of the woodwind family. Woodwinds are defined as wind instruments other than brass. These include the flute, oboe, clarinet and saxophone. As the musician blows air into the instrument, sound is produced.

In the flute, the musician covers holes to produces notes of varying tones. The simple reason notes change as different holes are covered is that air has varying distances to travel along the length of the instrument. The longer the air travels, the lower the note will be. Therefore, to create the lowest note on the flute, all holes must be covered. Different combinations of open and closed holes create different notes on the musical scale.

The strength of the air stream will have an effect on the notes as well. A strong, forceful stream of air produces a louder sound, while a soft stream gives a much softer tone. It is necessary, however, to vary the strength of the stream of air depending on the note desired. For example, a more forceful stream is needed when playing a low note, because the air has to travel down the length of the flute.

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