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The Early History of the Flute

Dec. 23, 2012
Posted in: Flute
The Early History of the Flute
The interesting history of flutes spans dates back several thousand years and spans across the globe.



I am going to talk about history of the flute. Do you know when the family of flutes were born? No one knows for certain, but the oldest one which was made 45,000 years ago was the recorder made from bear’s bone. It was shorter and had less holes.

There is the book called The Portrait of the Flute by Ririko Maeda, I am going to share some interesting writing in this book. 

The history of recorders is very old, they were born about B.C. 3,000 in an ancient Egyptian dynasty and were also used in the ancient Orient for the festival at the shrine. The oldest record of the flute was found in middle Asia which from the 9th century b.c, after that it expanded to India and China. In Japan, you could see the flute beginning in the Nara period (B.C.710-784) in Shosouin.

Later we find a relief that depicts an Etruscan playing the flute in the late second century B.C. to early first century B.C. However, during the Middle ages flutes disappeared in western Europe and only appear again in the Byzantine empire in the tenth century A.D., also you could see the motive or drawing of the flute in the picture in church in Kiev and artistic crafts of Hungary during this time.

Ririko Maedo guesses the flute is played at the beginning of fourteen century by the German song book. We don’t know about what was the shape of flute in the Middle ages but she guesses from artworks and writings, and it was simpler and shorter than present western flutes, and was posed to both right and left. Renaissance flutes were made by hard trees such as the box tree, pear tree, and maple tree. They were of a cylinder type and the pipe is thin. The sounds are bright and simple.

The later baroque flutes are cone shaped and tuned to one key (D is the key) and are made from ebony and ivory, creating a rich sound. There were no keys until baroque age.

We’d love to have you join us for flute lessons.

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