The basis of the modern flute, which is frequently used in orchestras and marching bands, is the reed flute. The exact origin of the reed flute is unknown but it has been used by people all over the world -- from Native Americans to people in the Middle East and South Africa. Reed flutes are simple to make and can be assembled with just a few materials, including a reed stalk, knife and sandpaper.
A reed flute is made from a hollowed piece of a stalk such as bamboo. It has five or six holes aligned on one side and is played much like a modern flute. The length of a reed flute is also similar to the modern instrument at about 14 inches long.
The flute is made by cutting a mouth hole at one end of the reed about 2 inches from a node that will close an end of the reed. The other end of the reed should be left open. Whittle out five or six holes about 1 1/2 inches apart down the length of the reed. Smooth the edges with sandpaper.
Sound and Music
A reed flute is used to compose and play simple melodies. The sound of a reed flute can vary from soft and mellow to sharp and even piercing. The flute makes sound when the air blown through it begins to vibrate. The pitch changes based on the position of a person's fingers on the holes.
More advanced homemade reed flute projects include constructing a double reed instrument or adding paint to your flute to give it a custom look. Anything more than a primitive reed flute will take practice to build and will require patience and a steady hand for making precise cuts. Flutes can also be made with custom shapes in the casing, depending on the material used.
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