We are so excited about the unique music in our upcoming show: Dragon & the Night Queen: Celtic Stories! There are over a dozen instruments and vocals in 5 different languages in this show. Contributing to the Celtic sound of the show is the Irish flute, played by internationally-renowned master of traditional Irish music Eliot Grasso.
The Irish flute is a 6-holed transverse wooden flute, directly descended from the standard classical flute of the 19th century. Like the whistle, what is unique to the Irish Flute is not the instrument itself, but the way of playing it. The Irish flute has the same fingering of a tin whistle.
19th century classical flute
Celtic tin whistle
The Irish flute is a simple system flute held horizontally while played. The flute plays a C-Major scale as tone holes are successively uncovered. The Irish flute has a distinctly different pitch from the Western concert flute due to its wooden construction and keyless fingering in addition to the use of the player’s facial muscles and unique shaping of the lips. Most Irish flute players tend to strive for a dark and reedy (high and thin) tone in comparison to classical flautists. Flutes currently made for Celtic and folk music resemble the wooden flutes of the 19th century, with large holes and tend to be limited to only a few keys, or none whatsoever. This strange hybrid that brings together the characteristics of a 19th-century classical flute and a baroque flute is what is known today as the Irish flute. The present-day Irish flute, a simple six-hole model, is capable of playing traditional Irish melodies without requiring challenging cross-fingerings on the part of the player.