History of the Flute from prehistoric times to the Baroque

Until about 1735, composers specified flauto traverso or simply traversa (not traverso) when they intended the flute; the word flauto without modification invariably meant recorder (especially the treble), to which the terms flauto a becco, flauto diritto or flauto dolce also apply. Composite terms mentioned in musical sources include: flauto a culisse (Swanee whistle); fiauto d’echo, scored for by J.S. Bach in his fourth Brandenburg Concerto (probably just a treble recorder, possibly an Echo flute); flauto d’amore (either a flute, lowest note a, a minor 3rd below the concert instrument, or occasionally an alto flute in G); flauto di voce (‘voice flute’: a recorder, lowest note d‘, also a type of Mirliton); flautone (a large recorder; since the 19th century an alto or bass flute); flauto octavo (a small recorder); flauto pastorale (occasionally applied to panpipes); flauto piccolo (either a piccolo, which in Italian is now more usually called ottavino, or else a small recorder or flageolet); flauto taillo (tenor recorder); and flauto terzetto (flute, lowest note f’).

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