Factoid and Myth
The flute is one of the oldest instruments, but people
have only been studying its history for about 200 years.
When information was lacking, many myths and incorrect
stories sprang up about the instrument's development.
Much of what we read about the history of the flute
(especially on the Web!) is full of these factoids.
The British naturalist Oliver Rackham, who wrote about
the history of the countryside, defined a factoid as
something that 'looks like a fact, is respected as a
fact, and has all the properties of a fact except that
it is not true.' He might have been referring to the
flute when he wrote: 'Let us not suppose that sifting
out the factoids we shall be left with a grey, banal,
workaday residue. On the contrary, the true history
is much more colorful and complex . . . than anything
pseudo-historians have invented.'
A little later we will have a flute factoid quiz on
this page. Come back later and find out which of your
favorite flute-history stories are true, and which are
factoids. You can find clues throughout the rest of