Baroque Flutes

My one-keyed baroque flutes are inspired by a number of historical instruments.

Joannes Hyacinthus Rottenburgh (the elder) lived and worked in Brussels and 16 or 17 of his transverse flutes still exist. Surprisingly, all are quite different with respect to both their acoustic and visual characteristics, with the exception of two specific flutes, one now in Brussels and the other in Pistoia, which are very similar. The instrument in Brussels, however, has a single middle joint and plays at pitch A=400 Hz whereas the traverso in Pistoia has two upper middle joints and is pitched at A=393 and A=417 Hz. Therefore my model has three ‘corps de réchange’:, upper middle joints pitched at A=392, A=400 and A=415 Hz.

Baroque flute, Rottenburgh

Almost fifty traversos made by the English woodwind maker Thomas Stanesby (the younger) have survived. The flute I present is loosely based on two similar ivory flutes in the Musée de la Musique in Paris.

Unlike Renaissance traversos, making a Baroque flute that plays at a higher or lower pitch than the original by extension or reduction is difficult, due mainly to its conical bore (unless only a minor few hertz are involved). The two ivory flutes in Paris play at about pitch A=418 Hz. Since wooden flutes always play at a slightly lower pitch than an ivory equivalent, the traverso I offer here plays perfectly well at pitch A=415 Hz.

Baroque flute, Stanesby

One of the most reputed workshops of woodwind making in the 17th and 18th centuries was in Nürnberg, and bore the family name of Denner. Jakob Denner (1681‒1735) was particularly skilled and enjoyed considerable success. (His father Johann Christoph Denner is said to have invented the clarinet.) Among the oboes, recorders, bassoons, chalumeaus and clarinets made by the Denners, five or six original traversos made by Jakob Denner remain. Or rather six and a half: parts of a Denner flute are preserved in the instrument museum in Poznan.

The instrument I make is based on an original Denner flute now in a private collection. It has four middle joints, the upper three playing at about pitch A=395, 405 or 415 Hz. In addition, it has an extra left-hand joint that is played in B, about a minor third lower than 415 Hz. The tuning of the original flute, with its long middle joint, is questionable. So my model comes with middle joints playing at pitches A=415, A=405 or A=392 Hz.

Baroque flute, Denner

Jean-Arnold Antoine Tuerlinckx established his workshop in Mechelen/Malines at the beginning of the 1780s, and flourished as both a woodwind and brass instrument maker until his death in 1827. When his son sold the workshop in 1856, it contained no less than 300 flutes, of which only 15 instruments have survived. Although most of flutes made around 1800 were made with four, six or more keys, Tuerlinckx’s flutes had just one key. I base my flute on an original in the collection of the Musée des Instruments de Musiques de Bruxelles. It plays at pitch A=430 Hz and I supply an extra A=440 Hz middle joint.

Baroque flute, Tuerlinckx

Only a small number of the many woodwinds made by the Hotteterre family survive. They include a three-piece flute that is now in the Landesmuseum Graz, Austria. For my version of this instrument I have altered a few minor visual and non-acoustic features such as the length of the cap at the top of the instrument. The original instrument plays at A=395 Hz. I have slightly lengthened the instrument so that it can be played at a common modern French standard pitch of A=392 Hz.

Baroque flute, Hotteterre


Baroque flute, Lissieu