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Modern flutes

The modern flute descends from inventions made in 1832 and 1847 by the Bavarian goldsmith, flute virtuoso, and industrial designer Theobald Boehm, and modified by many other instrument-makers since then. By the early 20th century and the recording era, French-style metal Boehm flutes had become the commonest type in Europe and America.

During the 1960s flute maker Albert Cooper and a group of English players re-scaled the model to fit a standard pitch of a=440 that had come into worldwide use by about 1950. At the same time Cooper introduced new styles of cutting the flute's embouchure hole, further altering its sound-ideals. Cooper's innovations were adopted by manufacturers in America and Japan, now the only countries with viable flute-making industries.

Despite the dominant position of the Boehm-Lot-Cooper metal flute, changes in design since 1970 have helped the instrument adapt to new musical styles.

History is still going on, so this page will eventually have information about modern developments that are of historic importance. This will include the invention of new key-systems for playing particular kinds of music, the use of electronics in flute music, and the use of new materials and techniques in flute building. Here's one example:

The Brannen-Cooper Kingma system flute, which can play a complete quartertone scale and allows increased multiphonic venting.

Chapters 12 and 14 of Ardal Powell's The Flute (Yale University Press, 2002) contain more information on this topic.

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