The flute is part of a family of flute-like musical instruments in the woodwind group. The instrument is played by blowing a stream of air over the embouchure hole on the head joint. It is pitched in C and has a range of about three octaves starting from middle C (C4). The piccolo is a smaller flute that plays higher and often shriller pitches. In school bands, the best or second best flutist is usually chosen to play the piccolo.
Less expensive flutes are made of polished brass, though silver plated or sterling silver flutes produce the best sound. A musician who plays the flute can be referred to as a flute player, flautist, or flutist.
A typical concert band has a flute section ranging from as few as 4 to as many as 15 members, and usually no more than one piccolo player. Flutes are typically divided into into three parts-- firsts, seconds, and thirds-- in a pyramid ranking with more thirds than seconds, and more seconds than firsts.
The flute is commonly used in symphony orchestras, concert bands, and occasionally jazz bands.
As portrayed in Hibike! Euphonium
There are currently 9 students who play flute in Kitauji's Concert Band, including:
- Yoriko Souga- Designated Piccolo
- Kotoko Himegami- Principal Flute, Flute Section Leader
- Tsubomi Nakano- Co-Principal Flute
- Kyoko Mihara
- Tsune Watanabe
- Shirabe Inoue
- Sari Takahashi
- Oda Meiko
- Nozomi Kasaki- Defected from band before start of series, rejoined in Season 2
In addition, Satomi Niiyama, the woodwind section's instructor, majored in flute performance in college.
- Unlike saxophones, oboes, and clarinets, flutes do not have an "octave key" to help them shift between octaves. They instead use air control and embouchure to change octaves.
- Flutes are stereotyped as bossy "know-it-alls" who are constantly gossiping about boys or band drama. This is not seen very much in Hibike! Euphonium, which portrays the clarinet section as the fangirls and gossipers.
- A flute that is played vertically, such as a tinwhistle or recorder, is called a fipple flute.
- The difference between a shy, quiet flute player and an arrogant drama-queen flute player is whether or not they also play piccolo.