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The flute is considered to be the oldest musical instrument dating back around 50,000 years ago. Recently, archaeologists uncovered a flute from Eastern Europe believed to be between 35,000 and 50,000 years old made of cave bear bone. Other flutes have been found made of bone dating back 35,000 years ago. The flute can be played two ways: the side-blown flute such as the piccolo and the end-blown flute like the recorder.
The flute had been introduced to Western Europe by the end of the 2nd century and since then western culture has influenced both the structure of the flute, and the music it plays. Different flutes have been made out of various materials from wood to silver and even gold. Today’s modern flutes are still being made from these precious metals. In the mid 17th century, Beethoven started adding flute parts to his symphonies. Modern western concert flutes are pitched in the key of ‘C’ and play three octaves starting at middle ‘C’ with the exception of the piccolo that is pitched one octave higher.