Overtone flute

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Notes available on a koncovka made in the key of G. Notes played with the end closed are marked with "●", and notes played with the end open are marked with "○".[1] Both groups of notes are harmonics of a fundamental on G.

An overtone flute is a type of a flute that is designed to play in the upper harmonics, typically well above the two or three harmonics that are the practical limit for most woodwind instruments.

An overtone flute has either no tone holes,[2] or relatively few tone holes for a woodwind instrument.[3] To make melodies, one plays it high into the overtone series. One series of harmonics is achieved by overblowing with the end of the tube open and another is achieved with the end closed.[2] This means that most overtone flutes are limited to producing only those notes from a natural scale.

Overtone flute tubes typically have relatively long resonating chamber compared to its diameter or cross sectional area, which encourages the instrument to resonate in the higher harmonics. This also makes it either difficult to play or very quiet when attempting to play the instrument in the first harmonic.


See also[edit]


  1. ^ "FAQ about: Koncovka (overtone flute)". Folkart Slovakia.
  2. ^ a b Maclagan, Susan J. (2009). A Dictionary for the Modern Flutist, p.124. ISBN 9780810867284.
  3. ^ Perret, Daniel (2005). Roots of Musicality: Music Therapy and Personal Development, p.161. ISBN 9781846420900.
  4. ^ Clint Goss (2012). "The Choctaw Overtone Flute / Indigenous North American Flutes". Flutopedia. Retrieved 2012-02-22.