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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 the site.

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