About the Baroque Flute
The baroque flute was the first of several major advances in the design of the transverse flute. It differed from earlier instruments in that it had a hybrid bore that was conical near the head, cylindrical for the main part of the body, and tapered for the foot joint. The creation of the bore was facilitated by dividing the instrument into three sections, each of which was reamed separately. The image below shows a baroque flute that has been disassembled. Two middle sections are shown, the larger one is for playing at A=440, and the smaller one is for A=415.
The unique bore extended the range of the instrument and improved the intonation of the upper register. Another difference from earlier instruments was the addition of a key. This was not added to facilitate reaching a traditional finger hole, but rather was created to play low e-flat. Thus the key covered an additional hole, not one of the original six, and it remained closed except to play a specific accidental. It is thought that Jean Hotteterre was one of the major innovators that brought about the baroque flute. His work and that of others made such instruments common by the last decade of the 17th century.
The baroque flute differs from a modern one in several ways. Its tone is not even across the entire range of the instrument. In particular certain accidentals do not have the same timbre as other notes. To address this, modern flutes have a key for each accidental. Modern flutes also have larger holes which can only be covered by keys because they are both hard to reach and too large to cover with the tip of a finger. The size of the holes changes the timbre of the notes. Lastly, the baroque flute is made from wood rather than metal. As one would expect, this effects the timbre of the instrument.
The following audio files illustrate the difference in sound between the instruments. The first files are played on an Armstrong 104 student flute. The second set of files are played on a Baroque flute made by the Von Huene Workshop, and is a copy of an instrument by A. Grenser.
Click here to download a windows audio file of a mid-ranged tone being played on a modern flute.
Click here to download a windows audio file of a upper-ranged tone being played on a modern flute.
Click here to download a windows audio file of a mid-ranged tone being played on a baroque flute.
Click here to download a windows audio file of a scale being played on a baroque flute.
Click here to download a windows audio file of the first part of the tune 'L'Homme Arme' being played on a baroque flute.