Flutemakers Bibliography


This list has been compiled through the input of members of the Flutemakers mailing list, and includes books, articles, and web resources that have proven useful and practical in the construction of flutes of all kinds. If you have any other recommendations–or brief comments on a book already here–please contact me.
Where comments come from more than one source, they will be numbered to separate them.   Do not expect to agree with all comments.

Baines, Anthony       Woodwind Instruments and Their History.

New York: Dover, 1991 [reprint].

Wonderful resource for all woodwind instruments, not just flute. The keywork diagrams are very useful if you ever come across a Rudall Carte Radcliff or 1867 model in need of repair.


Bate, Philip

"The Flute; A study of its History, Development, and Construction" ; Published by Ernest Benn Limited, London; Copyright 1969


Bigio, Robert

Readings in the History of the Flute :  monographs, essays, reviews, letters and advertisements from nineteenth-century London, selected and edited with an introduction by Robert Bigio.

Published by (and available from) Tony Bingham, www.oldmusicalinstruments.co.uk or from robert@bigio.com.


Bigio, Robert

Rudall, Rose & Carte: The Art of the Flute in Britain. 

A comprehensive history of the firm and contains detailed descriptions of the many innovative instruments they made. There are hundreds of colour photographs of flutes, alto flutes, bass flutes and piccolos, each shown in at least two views, and where necessary in three or four views with photographs of details. The firm’s output is shown in context with photographs of dozens of flutes made by their competitors including Willis, Prowse, Monzani, Wood, Wylde, ‘Pratten’s Perfected’ by Boosey & Co., Fentum, Godfroy, Koch, Boehm, Laurent, Gerock, Badger, Ward, Card, Siccama, Clinton, Lot, Collard and Boehm & Mendler.

Published by (and available from) Tony Bingham, www.oldmusicalinstruments.co.uk or from robert@bigio.com.


Carte, Richard       Sketch of the Successive Improvements in the Flute.

London: Rudall, Rose, & Co., 1851. 46 p.

Web reprint, with observations by Terry McGee: http://www.mcgee-flutes.com/CarteSketch.htm

"With a statement of the principles upon which flutes are constructed; and a comparison between the relative merits of the ordinary flute; the flute of Boehm; and Carte's two new patent flutes."


Leonardo DeLorenzo

"My Complete Story of the Flute"; The Citadel Press, Inc., original Copyright 1951


Maclagan, Susan

"A Dictionary for the Modern Flutist presents clear and concise definitions of more than 1500 common flute-related terms that a player of the Boehm system flute could encounter.  Fully illustrated with more than 100 images, the entries contain descriptions of words related to all aspects of the flute:  flute types, parts, repair, history, and music books; playing techniques; acoustics; articulations; intonation; common ornaments; flutemaking and more."

1.  The summary above, taken from the back of the book, does not reveal the full value of the book.  It is in no way limited to the Boehm system, but contains rich entries on and images of all modern and historic systems of flutes, their parts and mechanisms.  It even has an entry for me!


Powell, Ardal

The Flute. 2002, Yale University Press, New Haven and London,

As much about the music and times as the instrument itself.  Fairly heavy presentation, but less influenced by Rockstro than most other modern presentations.


Rockstro, Richard Shepherd

"A Treatise on the Construction, the History and the Practice of the Flute", Copyrights 1890, 1928, 1967; 1967 edition printed by Musica Rara

1. An invaluable source tragically spoiled by the author's obsessive antagonism towards some of the important makers and writers of the period he covers, notably Boehm, Siccama, Clinton and Welch, but conceivably others.  Also unreliable on the issue of pitch, again due to allowing personal prejudice to alter fact.


Toff, Nancy

The Development of the Modern Flute

A broad history of the flute, convenient as it shows better images than Bate and includes schematics of the keying systems.  Includes a lot of minor errors, but these are not enough to diminish its value, particularly as an introduction to the general topic.


Waterhouse, William       The New Langwill Index.

London: Tony Bingham 1993. xxxvii + 518 pp. 7" x 10"; glossary, list of collections, bibliography, index. ISBN: 0-946113-04-01.

A Dictionary of Musical Wind-Instrument Makers and Inventors. It lists European and American makers c.17th–20th C. Makers' marks, workplaces, biography, types of instruments made, patents, methods and principles.

Welch, Christopher
"History of the Boehm Flute; with Illustrations Exemplifying its Origin by Progressive Stages and An Appendix Containing the Attack Originally Made on Boehm, and Other  Pages Relating to the Boehm-Gordon Controversy" by ; Rudall, Carte & Co.,
London; Copyright 1883 



Scientific American
The Physics of Woodwinds.
(October 1960)

Backus, John

"The Acoustical Foundations of Music: Musical Sound; its Properties,
Production, Behavior, and Reproduction" Copyrights 1969, 1977. Second
Edition W.W. Norton & Company, Inc; ISBN 0-393-09096-5


Benade, Arthur A.       Fundamentals of Musical Acoustics.

New York: Oxford University Press, 1976. 608 pp. 6-1/8" x 8-1/4". ISBN: 0-486-26484-X.

Benade, Arthur A.       Horns, Strings & Harmony.

New York: Anchor Doubleday & Co. Inc., 1960. 271 pp. 5-3/8" x 8-1/2"; index. ISBN: 0-486-27331-8.

1. Acoustics made delightfully readable. Theory of wave motion and the phenomenon of harmony. Benade explains the operating mechanism at work in three major groups of instruments: woodwinds, brasses and strings. Calculations and practical illustrations in Chapter X, "Homemade Wind Instruments."


Benade, Arthur A.

A 1977 collection of course notes from Benade's class "Acoustical evolution of wind instruments"


Fletcher, Neville & Rossing, Tom       The Physics of Musical Instruments.

New York: Springer, 1998. 2nd ed., 756p., 485 illus.

1. The leading book on musical acoustics; assumes university level maths. Neville Fletcher is a flute player, nonetheless only a few pages are devoted to the instrument.


Forster, Cris

Flute Tone Holes:


1. Hard to characterise at first sight, seems to rely heavily on Nederveen, but may be a convenient summary.

2. The author makes very heavy work of the simple mathematics so that it comes out much more complicated than necessary and would tend to put the reader off.  He uses far too many symbols and far too many numerical values.   Most of what is written seems OK, but I noticed some misunderstandings and errors in relation to acoustic impedance.

3. There might be an argument for making Nederveen (or another treatment) more accessible, but this is not very accessible
and is a bit misleading.

Nederveen, C.J.

"Acoustical Aspects of Woodwind Instruments" by ;
Northern Illinois University Press, Copyright 1998; ISBN 0-87580-577-9



Boehm, Theobald       The Flute and Flute Playing in Acoustical, Technical, and Artistic Aspects.

New York: Dover Publications, 1964. xxix + 197 pp. 5-3/8" x 8"; index. ISBN: 0-486-21259-9.

A translation from the German, Die Flöte und das Flötenspiel, first published in 1871. This classic work explains the development of the revolutionary concert flute as first patented in 1847. As writer and inventor, Mr. Boehm explains his process and application. Acoustics, calculations, construction, the key mechanism, fingering charts, maintenance, illustrations. The bass flute in G. Playing technique, musical interpretation, biographical notes.


Boehm, Theobald.  Ed. by W.S. Broadwood.
Title: An essay on the construction of flutes giving a history & description of the most recent improvements with an explanation of the principles of acoustics applicable to the manufacture of wind instruments.
Bookseller: AstroLogos Books
Bookseller Book ID: 74421A598624376
Price: US$ 36.00

Book Description: BRAND NEW SOFTCOVER - Print-to-order B&W REPRINT of original book published: London Rudall Carte & Co. 1882. 84 Pages Reprinted from microfilm of original text on acid-free archival quality paper - SOFTCOVER Charts photographs & graphics may reproduce less than perfectly & may be reduced to fit pages. SPECIAL ORDER Allow 6 to 8 weeks for delivery. No Refund or Exchange unless not as described.
Total Book Price: US$ 36.00
Shipping Quoted*: US$ 6.00
Total Order Amount: US$ 42.00


Cooper, Albert       The Flute.

London: ?, 1984. Revised ed., 42p., illustrations.

The man who transformed the modern orchestral flute in his own words. Essential but, unfortunately, distinctly rare. This is the second edition (yellow cover) with additional material compared to the first edition (blue cover).

Hopkin, Bart       Air Columns and Tone Holes | Principles for Wind Instrument Design.

Nicasio, California: Experimental Musical Instruments, 1999. Revised ed., 42p., illustrations.

A well written and eminently readable look at both the acoustics and the practicalities of construction of all winds. Comprehensive and eclectic.

Hopkin, Bart       Musical Instrument Design | Practical Information for Instrument Making.

Tucson, Arizona: See Sharp Press, 1996. 181 p., illustrations, bibliography, index. ISBN: 1-884365-08-6

Hopkin covers both the simple generalities of acoustics and the specifics of idiophones, aerophones, membranophones, and chordophones (the main divisions of musical instruments). Well written and easily understood.

Joof, Laura Beha       Recorder Voicing and Tuning, and Use of the Tuning Machine.

The American Recorder (November 1985): 155–159.

How to tune and voice an instrument now that you've made it (applies to flutes, too). Very straightforward.


Metalwork & Machining

Holtzapffel, Charles & John Jacob       Turning and Mechanical Manipulation.
vol. 1 Material, Their Choice, Preparation and Various Modes of Working Them. 480 p., 300 illus.
vol. 2 Construction, Action and Application of Cutting Tools. 595 p., 700 illus.
vol. 3 Abrasive and Other Processes Not Accomplished With Cutting Tools. 816 p., 430 illus.
vol. 4 Hand or Simple Turning. 592 p., 793 illus.
vol. 5 The Principles & Practice of Ornamental or Complex Turning/ 656 p., illus.

London: 1843-84 [Reprinted variously].

Presently all available (with excellent descriptions for each volume) from Astragal Press.

This is an essential reference work for anyone interested in historical manufacturing processes. However, it has also become a standard reference for model engineers and anyone else who wants to make precision items with minimum cash outlay. The books detail manufacturing processes that are not as quick and efficient as modern methods, but can produce excellent results. The methods often require manual dexterity rather than precision equipment, as many of the methods use hand tools. Although many of these hand tools are not available nowadays an approximation can usually be made from the excellent illustrations in the books. These books were written at a time of great change in manufacturing methods, and Holtzapffel lists processes that disappeared shortly after. If you consult a text from forty or fifty years later then the manufacturing practice is the same as modern machining practice except for details (such as computer control).


Barclay, Robert L.

"The Art of the Trumpet-Maker: The Materials, Tools, and Techniques of the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries in Nuremberg" (Oxford Early Music Series), published May 1996. ISBN: 0198166052

1. It describes techniques that might have translated over to silver flute making in the early days, and once more could easily still do so. For instance, Boehm may have employed the same techniques of the 17th and 18 century trumpet maker in making silver flute tubes (both cylindrical and conical sections). Then again, he may not have, but still the methods shown in this book could easily be made use of in fabricating cylindrical and conical sections of tube for flutes.   For lack of other extensive books covering the fabrication techniques of silver flute makers in making metal tubes (conical or otherwise), it seems to be a good resource.



"A Guide to Repairing Woodwinds" by Ronald Saska, 2nd Edition. Copyrights 1984, 1987, and 1997 by Ronald Saska. ISBN: 0-939103-03-6
1. My initial input based on just flipping through it, is that it illustrates the keywork and describes the terminology, as well as showing how all the moving parts are assembled/disassembled. It describes and illustrates working with tenon joints, how to repair dents, resolder joints in precious metal solder joints, use of reamers and mandrels, and many other things. I would consider this to be an essential book for anyone that wants to learn about the repair aspect of flute-making.

Woodworking & Wood

U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Forest Products Laboratory.      

Wood Handbook--Wood as an Engineering Material.

Madison, WI: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Forest Products Laboratory., 1999. 463 p.

1. An amazing reference, with structural specifications for North American woods.

Available online at: http://www.fpl.fs.fed.us/documnts/fplgtr/fplgtr113/fplgtr113.htm

Holtzapffel, Charles & John Jacob       Turning and Mechanical Manipulation.

See Metalwork.

Raffan, Richard       Turning Wood with Richard Raffan.

Newtown, Connecticut: Taunton Books, 2001. Revised ed., 208 p., photos, illustrations.

1. One of the best tutorials for the wood lathe. Well laid out and comprehensive, written by a master.

Specialty Tools & Toolmaking


Playing Tutorials

Kottick, Edward L.       Tone and Intonation on the Recorder.

New York: McGinnis & Marx, 1974. 28p., photos, illustrations.

1. An excellent, well illustrated, comprehensive tutorial.

Plans & Drawings

Beaudin, Jean-François

Technical drawings of baroque and some 19th century flutes, and recorders 

See sample plan at DCM (Click on thumbnail of images to expand)

J.F.Beaudin, 75 Principale, Frelighsburg, P,Québec, Canada, J0J1C0.  

Email: jfbeaudin@hotmail.com   Phone: 450-298-5161



Levenson, Monty       How to Make Your Own Flute - Craft Manuals, Books & DVD Videos

Flute Making & Instrument Building - Craft, Theory & Design
Shakuhachi Flute
Native North America Flutes
Bamboo & Bamboo Craft
Books on Flutes and Traditional Music

How to Make your own flute



McGee, Terry       Wooden Flute Plans.

Malua Bay, Australia: McGee Flutes, 2004. 9 p.

1. A comprehensive 9-page package including all the information needed to replicate a Boosey Pratten's Perfected 8-key flute, including all dimensions, multiple images and a tuning chart for the original.

For sale by the author: http://www.mcgee-flutes.com/Plans.htm


Robinson, Trevor       The Amateur Wind Instrument Maker.

University of Massachusetts Press: Boston, 1980. Revised ed., 116p., extensive illus., bibliography.

1. One of the venerable books on the subject, this one tends to elicit strong emotions among makers. Robinson's plans are notoriously sloppy, but cover most period instruments. Where else can you find plans for a racket?


Shephard, Mark     Simple Flutes : A Guide to Flute Making and Playing

Shepard Publications, 2002

How to make simple flutes from readily available materials.  An excerpt, The Plumbers Pipe, provides enough information to make your first flute at http://www.markshep.com/flute/Pipe.html

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ProSono locates, selects and processes exotic woods of the best quality for the artisans makers of musical instrument.



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