Flutopedia - an Encyclopedia for the Native American Flute

Sign up for our Flute Newsletter


Previous PageNext Page

Flute Keys

This page lists the various keys of Native American flutes. The key of the flute is the lowest note that the flute plays … often called the fundamental note note of the flute.

Although I have assigned ranges to the keys of flutes, these ranges are not in general use — these assignments are completely my invention. If you have any comments on my choices, please email me at clint@goss.com. The ranges are:

  • Ultra-High / Sopranino The extreme upper end of the range for playable Native American flutes. These flutes are typically used for special effects and ornaments on songs, rather than creating melodies.
    Very few flute makers craft flutes in this range.
  • Very High / Soprano The upper end of the range for practical melodic Native American flutes. These flutes are typically used for special effects, counterpoint to a lower flute, or for use over drums.
    Few flute makers craft flutes in this range.
  • High / Alto A range of flutes that is quite high, but playable flutes can be made. Small fifes have historically been made in this range. Native American flutes in this range often sound good when paired with a flute an octave lower in duets.
  • Mid-Range / Medium / Tenor The range for the majority of Native American flutes that are constructed. This range strikes a balance between a good sound for the Native American flute, and the ability to reach the finger holes for most players. The center of this range, the keys of F# and G, are the most common keys for Native American flutes. These keys are a good choice for most first-time players of the Native American flute. For adult players with a smaller hand reach, a Native American flute in the key of A might be a better choice.
  • Low / Baritone A range that usually produces a soothing, mellow sound from the Native American flute. Often used in mellow or meditation style songs. Since Native American flutes do not have keys or mechanisims to extend the reach of the fingers, these flutes tend to be difficult to play for people with a small finger reach. Native American flutes at the low end of the baritone range often are "side-blown" so that the arms can reach the finger holes.
  • Very Low / Bass The extreme lower end of the range for playable Native American flutes. Flutes in this range are sometimes produced as a curiosity rather than a serious attempt at producing a quality sound. One exception is the Slovakian Fujara ... an instrument of excellent sound quality that is a cousin in design to the Native American flute.
    Few flute makers craft flutes in this range.
  • Ultra-Low / Contrabass Below the range for playable Native American flutes (although this might change in the future).
Jaina Block Flute of clay, 700 CE

Native American flutes in the key of B spanning four octaves.
Fundamental notes are B2 (topmost flute) to B5 (bottommost flute),
ranging from about 5 feet to about 10½ inches.
Flutes crafted by and photograph courtesy of Barry Higgins of White Crow Flutes.
The topmost flute was used to record the B2 sample below. Larger image

For more information on the Frequency and Piano Key#, see Octave Notation.

Unless otherwise noted, all sound samples played by Clint Goss, from instruments in my collection. The Flutopedia audio player used on this page can have multiple sound samples running at once, so you can experiment with what keys produce nice harmonies (or dissonance, if you like):

Keys of Native American Flutes
Range Key and
Sound Sample Frequency
Thanks to Alan Williams for recording this sound sample.
2,637.020 80  
Eb7 (D#7)   2,489.016 79  
D7   2,349.318 78  
C#7 (Db7)   2,217.461 77  
C7   2,093.005 76  
Very High
B6   1,975.533 75  
Bb6 (A#6)   1,864.655 74  
A6   1,760.000 73  
G#6 (Ab6)   1,661.219 72  
G6   1,567.982 71  
F#6 (Gb6) 1,479.978 70  
F6   1,396.913 69  
E6   1,318.510 68 E Bamboo micro-flute - needs to be recorded
Eb6 (D#6)   1,244.508 67  
D6   1,174.659 66  
C#6 (Db6)   1,108.731 65  
C6   1,046.502 64 C Bamboo micro-flute - needs to be recorded
B5   987.767 63  
Bb5 (A#5)   932.328 62  
A5 880.000 61  
G#5 (Ab5)   830.609 60  
G5 783.991 59  
F#5 (Gb5) 739.989 58  
F5 698.456 57  
E5 659.255 56  
Eb5 (D#5) 622.254 55  
D5 587.330 54  
C#5 (Db5) 554.365 53  
C5 523.251 52  
B4 493.883 51  
Bb4 (A#4) 466.164 50  
A4 440.000 49  
G#4 (Ab4)   415.305 48  
G4 391.995 47  
F#4 (Gb4) 369.994 46  
F4 349.228 45  
E4 329.628 44  
Eb4 (D#4) 311.127 43  
D4 293.665 42  
C#4 (Db4)   277.183 41  
C4 261.626 40 Middle C on a piano
B3 246.942 39  
Bb3 (A#3) 233.082 38 Lowest note on a concert (silver) flute and an oboe.
A3 220.000 37  
G#3 (Ab3)   207.652 36  
G3 195.998 35 Lowest note on a violin.
F#3 (Gb3)   184.997 34  
F3   174.614 33  
E3 164.814 32  
Eb3 (D#3) 155.563 31  
D3   146.832 30  
C#3 (Db3)   138.591 29  
C3   130.813 28  
Very Low
Thanks to Barry Higgins / White Crow Flutes
for recording this sound sample.
123.471 27  
Bb2 (A#2)   116.541 26  
A2   110.000 25  
G#2 (Ab2)   103.826 24  
G2 97.999 23  
F#2 (Gb2)   92.499 22  
F2   87.307 21  
E2   82.407 20  
Eb2 (D#2)   77.782 19  
D2   73.416 18  
C#2 (Db2)   69.296 17  
C2   65.406 16 Lowest note on a cello.
B1   61.735 15  
Bb1 (A#1)   58.270 14  
A1   55.000 13  
G#1 (Ab1)   51.913 12  
G1 48.999 11 … with 11′ of PVC pipe
F#1 (Gb1)   46.249 10  
F1   43.654 9  
E1   41.203 8  
Eb1 (D#1)   38.891 7  
D1   36.708 6  
C#1 (Db1)   34.648 5  
C1   32.703 4  
Sub-Bass B0   30.868 3  
Bb0 (A#0)   29.135 2 Lowest typical note on a contrabassoon.
A0   27.500 1 27.5 Hertz. Lowest note on a piano.
G#0 (Ab0)   25.957    
G0   24.500    
F#0 (Gb0)   23.125    
F0   21.827    
E0   20.602    
Eb0 (D#0)   19.445    
D0   18.354    
C#0 (Db0)   17.324    
C0   16.352    

Previous PageNext Page


To cite this page on Wikipedia: <ref name="Goss_2022_keys"> {{cite web |last=Goss |first=Clint |title=Native American Flute - Flute Keys |url=http://www.Flutopedia.com/keys.htm |date=7 June 2022 |website=Flutopedia |access-date=<YOUR RETRIEVAL DATE> }}</ref>