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A flute is a musical instrument that produces sound when a stream of air
against the edge of a hole, casuing the air within he body of the
instrument to vibrate.Most flutes are tubular, but some are globular or
other shapes. Every flute is an individually crafted wotk of art. The
flutemaker must consider the needs of the musician who will use the flute.
Students need relatively inexpensive but reliable instruments.
Professional musicians must have instruments of very high quality, often
with special changes made in the keys to accommodate special needs. The
most individual portion of a flute is the head joint. Professional
musicians often test several head joints before selecting one which
produces the sound they prefer. Head joints are often manufactured to meet
the special demands of individual musicians.


Some flutes are held vertically and are played by blowing air against the
edge of a hole in the end of the flute. There instruments include
Japanese bamboo flutes and the panpipe. The panpipe, alsi known as the
syrinx, consists of several vertical flutes of various sizes joined
together. Some modern flutes are made from wood that produces a different
sound from metal flutes. These wooden flutes generally have metal keys and
mechanisms. Most flutes are made of metal. Less expensive flutes, intended
for students, may be made from alloys of nickel and other metals. More
expensive flutes may be plated with silver.


Flutes have existed since prehistoric times. A fragment of a cave bear
thigh bone containing two holes, discovered in slovenia in 1995,
is believed by some scientists to be part of a flute used by Neanderthals
more than 43,000 years ago. Flutes were used by the Sumerians and
Egyptians thousands of years ago. Some ancient Egyptian flutes have
survived, preserved in tombs by the arid desert climate. This Egyptian
instrument was a vertical flute, about one yard long and about 0.5 inches
wide, with between two to six finger holes. Modern versions of this flute
are still used in the Middle East today.

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