Comparison of Baroque Flute and Modern Flute

Topics: Flute, Centuries, Recorder Pages: 4 (1284 words) Published: June 28, 2008
A comparative study of the use of the baroque and modern flutes in composition, with specific reference to - Sonata IV for flute and continuo by J.S Bach, and Sonata for flute by Hindemith

The baroque, or transverse flute is of great interest to me, mainly because of my own flute playing experience. I have always considered the baroque flute a much softer and more beautiful instrument, and it is because of this interest that I have decided to carry out my investigation upon the differences between the two flutes, particularly in composition. The first part of this will be a look into the development of the baroque flute, as it is my main focus, and what its capabilities were for composition. Then I will compare the flutes, following that, looking at the pieces chosen, one written for a baroque flute, and one for a modern flute. From these, I should be able to obtain some conclusions about the differences in composition for both flutes.

The earliest record of a flute is in a ninth century BCE Chinese poem Shih Ching, but the first pictorial evidence of a transverse flute comes from the second century BCE, found on an urn in Italy. The transverse flute developed from the recorder, and during the baroque period, there were four main flutes in use - treble, alto, tenor and bass. Each of them were pitched a perfect fifth apart (apart from the alto and tenor, which were very similar), and they had a range of around two octaves. Because the bass flute had such a weak sound and small range, it was usually replaced by a sackbutt. The tenor flute - the predecessor of the baroque flute has the most surviving copies. It was first noticed to have the range of the female voice by Michael Praetorius in 1619, " Certain instrumentalists are of the opinion that the pitch of the transverse flute (and the recorder) is that of a true tenor. Yet if one plays this note against an organ pipe, then it is in fact a true treble." (De Organographia, p21) Flutes in the...
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