+61 411 026 182 eileen@theflautist.com

Tone on the flute is a very personal thing. Every player has their likes and dislikes and dreams of how they would like to sound as well.

Why is tone so important? Because it is the tool we communicate with the listener with and the tool we use to portray the composers wishes so it is crucial it is number 1 priority. The listener relates to sound and emotion and how effectively it is communicated. The players ability to produce a beautiful sound, colours and expression with these will result in a bond between the listener and the player or not. It is also an opportunity for the player to create a unique identity musically with their sound and concept of sound so the world is one’s oyster really. The player can go any which way they wish.

The ingredients that go into a great tone are many:

1. The players own personal taste
2. The flute make
3. The head-joint type
4. The metal -silver, gold, white gold, platinum, phosphorus bronze, and so many other alternates available now.
5. Then there are some factors that can influence anyones sound no matter the flute, the make or the metal for the better.
6. Breathing
7. Support

What I want to talk about are some more obscure things:

The fundamentals of any note are made up of harmonics and these are like the ingredients in a divine sauce. Get the mix of spices etc right and it will be rich and dreamy. Add only 2 ingredients and it will be bland and dull. Tone on the flute for everyone fits this case and harmonics are the divine ingredients.

This is a great article and helpful explanation worth reading and listening to.


Getting the harmonics in tune takes time, listening and daily work and also keeping the daily work up. When the full range is in tune on the flute, it will resonate, ring and feel as though at times it might jump out of ones hands. The tone will project with no effort and be rich and expressive. Everyone can do this, it just takes focus and time.

The Foundation Tools section. On theflautist.com has a complete video guide on all of these exercises step by step.

The Adagio from the Rodrigo Aranjuez Concerto.

This is also where we get our colours from because when the player gets control of them they can take them out of the sound and put them in also. An example of this is for a rich low to middle register I really focus on the fundamental third especially in middle register for a rich expressive and almost dark tone.

Regrets and Resolutions by Gary Shocker.

Here I take the third out quiet often to get the colour I want and then put it back in in Regrets section. Resolutions they are all in big time.


Harmonics are not a thing that magically change a sound in 24 hours but mastering them and getting them in tune and balance will reap the player rewards big time. My tone is continually changing and I gain new insights into what I can do daily by practising them and listening carefully.

These are just two examples there are so many more it would take an essay to cover them all.

Flexibility is the other aspect everyone can practise and make a big difference to their sound. Bending the pitch over the full range of the instrument gives relaxation, flexibility and air control over direction and speed. There are video guides by me step by step on theflautist.com
In the Foundation Tools section that show how these are done. These are useful not only for flexibility but the find the centred most resonant speaking point of the flute. This is a game changer for a players tone along with harmonics. The speaking point is also covered in the Foundation Tools section.

An example of where I used this over above my daily warm up and flexibility work is in Krishna by Roussel to get the colour I wanted in the recap on the the C#’s. See video below:

Control of the air is the other factor that goes into a beautiful tone. Controlling the speed and direction with relaxed flexible lips gives a wonderful result and it keeps on giving if the player keeps working at it. It is like the Pantene ad “It wont happen over night but it will happen”. For this dynamic control over the full range to D3 from pp to ff over 8 beats is a basic exercise that delivers results pretty quickly. The website covers this as well.

The last thing I would like to mention is when the flute and the voice meet with all of the above things under control a very personal magic happens and the tone that is produced is very unique to the player.

The 3 best examples of me achieving this I feel are:

Krishna by Roussel

O Mio Babbino Caro by Puccini.

Bolero by Ravel.

All these things every player can work at and achieve results in to improve their tone. No matter what your taste , instrument or metal, these will improve the tone and give the player options of where they might like to go next with their tone. There are no limits once one walks through this door . Its awesome.

 Everyone more than likely has recording that resonated with them and inspires where they would dream to be.

 I have two recordings that I love:

Largo from J.S.Bach harpsichord concerto in F minor, William Bennett.He was 44 years old when I studied with him and this tone was what I heard every lesson . Unbelievably privileged to have had him at the height of his career. I will never forget him demonstrating the Faure pavane to me like it was so simple to play so beautifully. Some things one never forgets.

Marcel Moyse- Evening Primrose – Ono Tadasuke. Inspires me every time