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320px-Shinobue and other flutes

A selection of flutes from around the world.

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The flute is a musical instrument of the woodwind family. Unlike woodwind instruments with reeds, a flute is an aerophone or reedless wind instrument that produces its sound from the flow of air across an opening. According to the instrument classification of Hornbostel-Sachs, flutes are categorized as edge-blown aerophones.

A musician who plays the flute can be referred to as a flute player, a flautist, a flutist, or less commonly a fluter.

Aside from the voice, flutes are the earliest known musical instruments. A number of flutes dating to about 40,000 to 35,000 years ago have been found in the Swabian Alb region of Germany. These flutes demonstrate that a developed musical tradition existed from the earliest period of modern human presence in Europe.

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