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The Flute and the Flute-Player: Nellieanna Hay

Updated on June 9, 2013

The Western Concert Flute

© Alison Gericke
© Alison Gericke

Hub Index

1. The Flute;

2. The Flute-player;

3. Nellieanna Hay is a typical flute-player;

4. Nellieanna's favorite music for romantic love, sensual love, raw sadness, anger, nostalgia plus one specific memory.

Listen to the sound of a Western concert flute

The Western Concert Flute

Even though concert flutes are seldom made out of wood, but of brass, glass, silver, gold, platinum, carbon fiber, palladium and mostly of alloys containing significant amounts of copper or silver, it is considered to be a woodwind instrument because sound is produced when a stream of air is blown into the flute through the embouchure hole unto the sharp edge of the flute. Specific pitches are produced by opening and closing the 16 circular tone holes and by directing and intensifying the air stream.

Other names for the Western concert flute are ‘Transverse (side-blown) flute’, ‘Boehm flute’, or ‘C flute’.

The piccolo, alto-, soprano-, treble flute and various bass flutes are part of this specific flute family.

The flute is one of the oldest music instruments. However, the modern western concert flute and the rest of the family with its particular key system is the creation of the flutist, composer and silversmith, Theobald Boehm. He patented the system in 1847. One of his major innovations was the changing from wood to metal and the linking of the key system, which simplified fingering. Since 1947 only a few substantial changes have been made until 1980 when Johan Brögger finally modified the flute by fixing the two major problems – the maladjustument between certain keys and problems between the G key and the B♭ key.

Concert flutes have three parts - the headjoint, sealed by a cork, the body, and the foot joint. The head may look the less complicated, but it is the most difficult part to construct as the lip plate and tone hole have critical dimensions, angles and edges.

A symphonic wind orchestra (concert band) may have a large flute section playing the first and second parts composed for flutes. One or two accomplished flute players normally play the piccolo – a half-size flute producing sound an octave higher than written. Critics rarely complain that the flutes are too loud. To the contrary, an inadequate flute section could easily be browbeaten by the brass section.

Western concert flute


The more complicated they are as machines, the easier they are to play. (A very simple instrument like the violin leaves all the work to the player.) ~ Atarah Ben-Tovim & Douglas Boyd

Music for the Western Concert Flute
© Alison Gericke
© Alison Gericke

The Flute-Player

A flute-player is called a ‘flutist’ or ‘flautist’. Less popular terms are fluteist’ and ‘flutomater’.

The English term ‘flutist’, recorded in the Oxford English Dictionary since 1603, was coined to ‘flautist’ in the eighteen century by the Italians and specifically by Nathaniel Hawthorne in ‘The Marble Faun’.

Aware of these highly controversial terms for flute-players I am quoting Alison Gericke, professional musician and music teacher.

My question: “What is the most popular word - flutist or flautist?”

Alison Gericke: “Flute-player. But between the above two terms: 'flautist', definitely. 'Flutist' has been around for longer, but 'flautist' is usually the one you hear being used. It just rolls of the tongue and has that sophisticated effect;). (Some flute-players dislike the word 'flautist' because it has some connection to 'flaunt' in origin - these things can get quite controversial.)

Thank you, Alison! ‘Flaut’ is indeed a Latin verb which means ‘to jeer’ or ‘to mock’. So it is quite understandable why dedicated flute-players prefer ‘flutist’ instead of ‘flautist’.


"I am a flute player not a flautist. I don't have a flaut and I've never flauted." ~ James Galway.


According to Atarah Ben-Tovim and Douglas Boyd, authors of “The Right Instrument For Your Child”, the flute is suitable for the social as well as the a-social person. But not for the more aggressive and dominant person who needs to expend more energy and produce more noise that the flute will allow.

Flute-players are romantic, sensitive, creative and able to improvise. Their ability to function in auto-pilot-mode while their thoughts are elsewhere deserves recognition. Even in precarious conditions or when browbeaten by dominant superiors and peers, they can escape into a fantasy world where all clouds have silver linings.

Meaningful quotes about the flute and flute-players

Meylan (in The Flute): “… the sound of the flute… seems to possess a magic power that emanates from its innermost being. It speaks, it moves, it entrances, almost as if it had been revealed to us on the glorious day of creation…… The flute calms the spirit and penetrates the ear with such sweet sound that it brings peace and an abeyance of motion unto the soul. And should some sorrow dwell in the mind, a care that wine cannot make us forget and banish, it lulls us to sleep and is balm on account of its sweet and gracious sound, provided that it adheres to modest music and does not excite and inflame the soul with too many notes and passages, which would weaken it and could easily come to grief on account of the wine."

Jean Craig (in The Woodwinds): "Of all the wind instruments, the flute can do the most things the most easily. A fine performer on a flute can dash up a scale and down again so quickly that our ears cannot separate the notes. A flutist can skip and jump from note to note so lightly that the music reminds us of the quickness of a rabbit or of a gazelle. He can swoop and turn and trill the notes until we think that we are hearing a bird. Musicians say that a flute can do anything!"

Eddie Cahill: "Playing a flute is like writing a book. You're telling what's in your heart...It's easier to play if it's right from your heart. You get the tone, and the fingers will follow."

Garrison Keillor (in The Young Lutheran's Guide to the Orchestra): "The flute is the show-off of the wind section, the big shot: Jean-Pierre Rampal, James Galway--both millionaires. (How many millionaire bassoonists can you name real fast?) Well, that's fine. Everybody knows it's the hardest, blowing across a tiny hole with your head tilted all your life: it's like soloing on a pop bottle. The problem with the flute is that it vibrates your brain, and you start wearing big white caftans and smocks and eat roots and berries. You become a pantheist and sit in meadows, and you believe that all is one and God is everything--God is a column of air vibrating--and you know that's not right." (Lol!)

According to mythology the goddess Athene invented the flute and then threw it away because it made her face ugly.

The Socrates of the Republic rejected the flute because it was too exciting and emotional.

Ben-Tovim and Boyd cover all matters regarding music tuition in their book: "The Right Instrument For Your Child."

© Nellieanna Hay
© Nellieanna Hay | Source

Nellieanna Hay

Looking for the musician in Nellieanna I can clearly see a flutist in her. Her poems in HubPages have a unique and ethereal quality, enthralling the reader right into a fantasy world where all question and answers are connected with strings of gold. They are delightful reads at the beginning and the end of a day and especially at the end to ponder and cherish until Sleep turns them into dreams.

As part of Nellieanna's audition for musicianship in Hubville Symphonic Wind Orchestra, I've asked her to submit a few songs that have the power to put her in a specific mood.

Nellieanna takes the floor:


It's a sense of complete oneness with the beloved, being immersed in his very being and his in me, with abiding feelings deep as the ocean, and as constant, yet as alive and moving with all its new discoveries, surprises, delights, beauties and pleasures, - along with occasional real-life glitches to be resolved happily. It's the romantic feeling of our love at the very thought of him or mention of his name, along with caring so deeply, I'd do all I could if he needed me in illness or stress, just as fully as in health and joy. This song is one of many which remind me of that deep kind of love....


For me, it's the indescribable and specific, nearly irresistible pull toward a man's manliness, especially when he's someone I love, respect and for whom I care in all ways. The sensual aspect of love is unique in it, though! It makes me tingle, my breath shorten and become staccato as I become more acutely aware of my womanliness and desire, very specifically. This song embodies all of that to me as much as or more than any other...


It's something I've felt on more than one occasion in this lengthy life. I've lost most of my 'others' of my kin and closest spiritual kinship, either to death or tragic separation. The rawness doesn't disappear but it does subside a bit. The most specific, most recent experience of that kind of raw sadness was coupled with a kind of awareness that, even so, it was not 'the end' though it felt so final at the time. It was when, not too long after my beloved George died, Restland (where he's buried, as well as are several of my other folks) invited recently bereaved (and any other bereaved who wished to attend) to a special service honoring our lost loved one(s). It was beautifully touching, but the most beautiful intense moments were after the chapel service ended, when we were all asked to step outside onto the clearing there and to form a circle. First, an attendant opened a cage, took out a live white dove and carried it around the inside of the circle, allowing the children to pat the bird. It was easy to observe their delight. The dove was returned to the cage and this following song began being played while the attendant opened up the large cage and released a flock of white doves into the clear afternoon Autumn sky, so blue with tinges of approaching sunset pink on a few fluffy silvery clouds and the tops of trees with changing leaf colors. It was incredibly beautiful. The doves circled round and round several times, happily free to stretch their lovely wings before they flew off to their next assigned place, where, of course, they would be returned to their regular resting place within the Restland campus. I'd actually seen the doves inside the building when George Jr. and I were arranging for the funeral, but had no idea what their presence would mean! What it meant to me, as it turned out, was one of the most memorable, poignant and significant moments during my early grieving for my George. It was both raw and lifting. I was reminded that he'd flown too, away from his diminishing life and into whatever freedom awaited his precious spirit then. After that, I could speak to his pictures as I'd done and still do, with that much more special message.


I'm not given to explosive anger, but I'm very much in tune with ALL my feelings and value them. Early outbursts in my life left me with intense headaches and regrets, plus a dawning sense that I had other resources inside with which to learn to direct all that energy and passion into more constructive channels, without losing the power of possessing them and the lessons they teach. I believe that all emotions are valuable and to be, first of all - felt fully and then understood and put to best use possible. It's individual, but for me, lashing out at the first moment of anger has never been satisfactory for me or for others. There are few songs which capture exactly what this emotion is to me, to fully feel anger arise and to begin to look for sensible ways to think it through, redirect it, learn from it and spare so many damages to myself and others before it's destroyed and/or left memories that cannot be erased! There's a sort of sweet church song I used to hear, titled "Angry Words" - ' . . oh, let them never from my lips unbridled slip. . .' But I've always felt it's a bit too arbitrary and 'pat'. Anger doesn't just move aside so easily. I certainly don't want to stuff mine, but rather to understand it and put it to better use! So I thought of this song to express one way fury might be redirected at, and with the other person which is a tongue-in-cheek challenge coupled with humor, too. I figure I can always get mad later if all else fails! :-)


It's such a special emotion and one with which I'm quite familiar. The division between happy, sad and longing emotions often does fade into one abiding emotion which is, accurately, NOSTALGIA.

BTW - at one time in my 1950 college years, I wore a haunting perfume called "Nostalgia" by Germaine Montiel. It became unavailable eventually, as so many of my preferred things do!

The song that first comes to mind when I think of this emotion, though, is "I'll Be Seeing You". Its lovely simple melody and poignant lyrics of the WWII years was written for those separated by the realities of war, when the person on each end of separation reminisced about the things they'd shared together which they so longed to share again when the war ended. I wasn't old enough to be in that position then, but my George was and he loved this song all his life. When my turn came to be separated from him by his death, I so often reminisce the things we did together. This is the song I used for the memorial webpage I made for him, which Restland also used to make a keepsake DVD of his life as I'd captured it on the webpage. The song always brings tears of missing, longing nostalgia to my eyes.


"It's complicated", as they say! The song I include does bring back one specific touching memory, but it's part of a bigger, longer memory. It's about my 'first love', Kenneth, with whom I fell 'in love' - (unreciprocated) - at age 7,which lasted for me alone till in our teens, when his love caught up with me in it. He loved to strum his guitar and sing in his strong Texas accent, (which was a unique one and one thing I loved about him) with his baritone voice. Many years later after we'd broken up and our lives took different paths, he returned to mine when I was with George. They, fortunately, became friends, as did Kenneth and I, but without the romance. He taped several classic REAL 'cowboy' songs for us but he also taped this song just for me. It warmed my heart and let me know that we had a connection that was pretty much eternal, though it was never to be consummated in any other way. He died in 1984, not too long after he sent us the tapes.

This rendition is better musically than Kenneth's and it also includes some wonderful glimpses of the vast variety that is my beloved Texas in all its MANY moods and faces, many of which have been part of my first-hand memories, too. But it is the specific memory of hearing Kenneth's tape of this song dedicated to me to which I dedicate this rendition....

Thank you Nellieanna Hay

The fact that you can connect your emotions to a specific song is a quality in your favor and will certainly ensure your success as a musician in Hubville Symphonic Wind Orchestra. To make your audition for 1st Flute-player an unforgettable experience you may use as accompaniment the following video of the Royal Academy of Music....

A blurred photo of myself, studying the flute in 2002
A blurred photo of myself, studying the flute in 2002

Shared with public by 'Beautiful Nature And Amazing World'


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