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5. The Mechanism

The mechanism or ‘keywork’ of the flute is found on the body and footjoint - the keys are depressed with the player’s fingers onto the ‘tone-holes’ of the flute in order to change the pitch that is produced.

Unlike the tone-holes of wooden instruments, which are normally carved into the body of the instrument, the tone-holes of the modern flute are either extruded or ‘drawn’ from the body of the tube, or soldered directly onto the tube. In both cases, the tone-holes protrude from the tube by around 5mm at their highest and 1mm at their lowest.

Drawn tone-holes are made by a machine which extrudes them from the tube of the instrument through the use of heat and spinning ball-bearings, and then rolls the top of them down until they are flat and even.

Soldered tone-holes are soldered to the tube by hand, which is a labour intensive and time consuming job. Drawn tone-holes are therefore usually found on most student and mid-range instruments, and it is generally only handmade instruments played by professionals that are made with soldered tone-holes.

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