Published on Saturday, 24 April 2010 22:42
Written by Bruce Gale
Various aspects of the head joint design on a flute can have a dramatic influence on the instrument’s sound and response. Broadly, there are two basic tapers – the German and the French – with numerous variations on offer from different manufacturers. A French-style taper produces a warm, sweet sound, while a German-style taper offers more a more powerful tone. Most players prefer the French taper or one of its many variants.
Other design factors influencing the sound and response of the flute include the shape of the embouchure hole (oval or rounded) and its size. Small, oval-shaped holes make the upper register more responsive but tend to result in very thin tones in the lower register. Large, rounded holes make the lower register sound better, but also tend to make the high register difficult to control. Other factors to consider include the degree of roundness of the ‘chimney’ between the lip plate and the body of the flute head joint.