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Flute vs Clarinet: What Are the Differences?

By Lala , in Lifestyle , at June 27, 2022 Tags: ,

Did you know that the flute is the oldest instrument we have evidence of in human existence? In 2008, archaeologist Nicholas Conard and his team found a 40,000-year-old vulture-bone flute in a German cave. They discovered it alongside pieces of a mammoth-bone flute as well.

On the other hand, if we consider the flute vs. clarinet, the latter is extremely young. Johann Christoph Denner, a well-known woodwind maker, invented the clarinet in the 18th century. It started off as an adaptation of a reed pipe instrument used in the folk music of the era.

Time of invention is not the only difference between the clarinet and the flute. While they are both members of the woodwind family, there are many aspects that distinguish them and make them unique.

Keep reading to learn more about these two popular instruments and how they differ.

What is a Flute?

As the oldest instrument on the record, the flute has come in different forms and has been made from a range of materials over the years. However, in essence, it is a tube through which players direct air in order to create sound.

Flutes also have a number of holes that flutists cover with their fingers to create different tones. Modern orchestral flutes are made of metal, usually including silver, and have at least 13 tone valves.

If you want to learn more about the flute, check out This flute guide will answer all remaining questions you may still have about how to get started playing the flute.

What is a Clarinet?

Clarinets are also tubular and produce sound through a vibrating column of air. Nowadays, these tubes are made using African blackwood, with metal keys used for covering the holes to create different tones.

The mouthpiece is made from ebonite, which is hard rubber and includes a cane reed. Clarinet players need to change the reed every 2-4 weeks. Clarinets also feature a bell at the base of the tube, unlike flutes.

The clarinet looks easy to play, but it’s not that simple! There is a lot of technique that goes into positioning the mouthpiece and blowing properly. To learn more about how to play this intriguing woodwind instrument, check out this clarinet guide.

Flute Vs. Clarinet

Aside from being made with different materials, the two biggest differences between the flute and the clarinet are their mouthpieces, and the way musicians hold them. The flute’s mouthpiece consists of an opening that the musician blows air across–similar to when you blow air over an empty glass bottle. Because of this, flautists hold the flute parallel to the ground, to one side of their head.

The clarinet, on the other hand, has a single-reed mouthpiece. Although it looks like the musician simply blows into the clarinet, in reality, they are blowing air between the reed and the mouthpiece. Clarinetists hold the clarinet in front of them, with the bell directed downwards towards the ground.

Another key difference between the flute vs. clarinet is the different sounds they create. While flutes create a breathy, light, and often ethereal sound, clarinets produce a more mellow, warm, and darker or more melancholic sound.

Different Sounds, Same Song

These musical cousins are different in material, sound, and structure. However, both are integral instruments in concert bands and orchestras. You may also find them making music together in a jazz ensemble!

Now that you have learned the basics of the flute vs. clarinet, check out the rest of the site for more informative articles on a variety of topics! 5elifestyle


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