Structure of the Finnish overtone flute

Overtoneflutes can be devided to two different caregories: block flutes and rim-blown flutes. These two types differ with each other how the air travels to the window. Flutes can also be devided by the location of the blowing hole: side-blown and end-blown flutes.

Side-blown block flute (builder: Ying Ming Zhang)
Rim-blown flute (builder: Dmitri Demin)

Majority of the overtone flutes built in Finland nowadays are side-blown block flutes. Used materials have traditionally been bark, pipe plants or bone. At the present day most of the flutes are built of plastic tube, wood or metals.

End-blown flute (builder: Max Brumberg)

Building a Finnish overtoneflute is quite simple. The length of the tube affects the tuning and thickness to timbre and loudness. The building material affects e.g. to timbre and playing touch.

Nowadays it is common to use PVC plastic as a building material of overtone flutes. Blowing side’s block could be made of wood or plastic. The flute’s moisture tolerance will be improved if a plastic piece is put inside the tube as an extension for the wooden block. Plastic blocks won’t swell because of the moisture and block entirely the air channel.

Also wooden season materials are handy, though short-lived. Willow species are good materials for overtone flute (willow flute) because the bark doesn’t break easily when detached.

Pitkähuilu diagram (according to Riitta-Liisa Joutsenlahti)
Pitkähuilu diagram with plastic block extension

© Janne Ojajärvi