A successor of the 19th-century German flute, the Western flute is a transverse flute that is closed at the top. Also known as the C flute, since most flutes are tuned to the key of C, the Western flutes are made of metal or wood. Flute players enjoy playing this most common variant of the flute. Read on to gather more info about the Western concert flute.
The player blows across and into the embouchure hole which is positioned near the top in the Western flute. The C flute has rounded tone holes which are bigger than the finger holes of its baroque predecessors. Theobald Boehm, from a period of 1832 to 1847 brought a great improvement in the instrument's dynamic range and intonation. He experimented with the size and placement of tone holes, the key mechanism, and the fingering system of these Western flutes which typically are conventional to Boehm's design, known as the Boehm system.
The standard Western concert flute is pitched in the key of C, covering a range of three octaves starting from middle C. As one of the most common orchestral instruments, the contrabass, double contrabass, and hyperbass are other uncommon forms of the western flute having a pitch two, three, and four octaves below middle C respectively. The C flute is used in many musical groups like concert bands, orchestras, flute ensembles, and sometimes in jazz bands and big bands. Some other flutes in the Western flutes family include the piccolo, alto flute, bass flute, contrabass flute and double contrabass flute, which have an important role to play in the Western flute music.
The modern and professional western concert flute is usually made of silver, gold or even a combination of the two. Some of the most costly and luxurious western flutes are made-up from platinum or palladium. However, the student instruments are generally made of nickel-silver alloy, composed of nickel, copper, and zinc.
The modern western flutes come with a variety of options. For instance, the B thumb key is practically a standard, while the B foot joint is optional for the middle-to-upper end models. Other recent additions consist of a C-trill key which is fast gaining popularity among flute players.