Key Difference – Flute vs Recorder
Flutes are reedless instruments in the woodwind family. The term flute is used to refer to a variety of instruments that produce sound from the flow of air across an opening; however, the term flute mainly refers to the western concert flute in modern usage. The key difference between flute and recorder is that recorders have a fipple that directs the air across the edge of the tone hole whereas standard flutes don’t have a fipple.
What is a Flute?
The term flute is applied to a number of reedless wind instruments that produce sound from the flow of air across an opening. Flutes made from a tube with holes that can be stopped with fingers or keys. A number of instruments such as piccolo, clarinet, recorder, fife, bansuri, etc. are generally considered as types of flutes. They are considered to be one of the oldest musical instruments in the world and are used in both western and eastern music. Flutes can be categorized into several broad groups such as side-blown and end-blown, and fipple flutes and non-fipple flutes.
Side Blown Flute
These are also known as transverse flutes and are held horizontally played. The player has to blow across the embouchure hole in the flute, perpendicular to the flute’s body length.
End Blown Flutes
End-blown flutes are played by blowing on one end of the flute. Xiao, kaval, danso and Anasazi flute are some examples of this type of flutes. They are held vertically when played.
Fipple flutes have a constricted mouthpiece. These flutes are held vertically when played. Recorder and tin whistle are examples of fipple flutes.
Non Fipple Flutes
Non-fipple flutes are the flutes that don’t have a constricted mouthpiece. Most instruments in the flutes family are of this kind.
However, in modern usage, the term flute mainly refers to the western classical flute, which is a transverse instrument made of wood or metal. These are pitched in C and has a variety of three and a half octaves starting from the musical note C4. C 7 is considered to be the highest pitch in western flutes, but experienced players may be able to reach even higher notes.
What is a Recorder?
A recorder is a flute-like or whistle-like musical instrument that belongs to the woodwind family. Recorders have a clear and sweet sound. The documented history of recorders dates back to the middle ages, and they were also very popular during the renaissance and baroque periods. However, from the second of the 17th century, flutes and clarinets, which could play a wide range of notes, began to replace recorders. It was only at the beginning of the twentieth century that recorder began to regain its popularity.
The recorder is played vertically, rather than horizontally, and an internal duct to direct the airflow across the edge of the tone hole. Recorders have a seven finger holes (four for the lower hand and three for the upper hand) and a thumb hole. Recorder is categorized as a fipple flute or duct flute since it has a constricted mouthpiece, which is called a fipple.
Recorders are made in different sizes nowadays. Although recorders were traditionally made from wood or ivory, they are also made of plastic today. The lowest note that can be played in most recorders is C or F.
What is the difference between Flute and Recorder?
Flute vs Recorder
|Western concert flute is the most common variant of the flute.||Recorder is a flute-like woodwind instrument.|
|Production of Sound|
|The sound is produced by blowing across the embouchure hole.||The sound is produced by blowing air into a duct that directs it onto the edge.|
|Western concert flute is a side-blown flute.||Recorder is a fipple flute.|
|Western concert flute is held horizontally.||Recorder is held vertically.|
|Western concert flutes are typically made of wood or metal.||Recorders are made of wood, ivory or plastic.|
Summary – Flute vs Recorder
Flute is a type of instrument in the woodwind instrumental family. There are many types of flutes, the western concert flute being the most common variant. Flutes can be categorized into different groups such as side-blown vs end-blown, and fipple vs non-fipple, etc. Western concert flute is a side-blown, non-fipple flute whereas recorder is a fipple flute. This is the key difference between flute and recorder.
1. “Flute parts illustration”By Jkwchui – Own work (CC BY-SA 3.0) via Commons Wikimedia
2. “Recorder300″By –pbroks13talk? –  (Public Domain) via Commons Wikimedia
3. “Woman and child reenactors – Fort Ross State Historic Park – Jenner, California – Stierch” By Sarah Stierch – Own work (CC BY 4.0) via Commons Wikimedia