are the author of a quote and prefer it be removed for personal or
copyright reasons, contact me, and I'll pull the quote.
These quotes aren't in any particular order. Some are jokes,
some are probably apocryphal, some might even be accurate. Most
even have something to do with flutes.
- A gentleman is someone who can play the flute, but doesn't.
- --anon (probably a frustrated piper)
paraphrased from Oscar Wilde's comment about saxophonists
- . . . but where is it written that everything should be to one
single person's taste?
- --J.G. Tromlitz, The Virtuoso Flute-Player
"From the start, when it was the instrument of the wood-god Pan, the
flute has been associated with pure (some might say impure) energy. Its
sound releases something naturally untamed, as if a squirrel were let
loose in a church."
- --Seamus Heaney
"The only woman awake is the woman who has heard the flute."
- -- Rumi
"Playing a flute is like writing a book. You're telling what's in your
heart...It's easier to play if it's right from your heart. You get the
tone, and the fingers will follow."
- -- Eddie Cahill
"The way leads from playing the flute to pleasure, from pleasure to
laziness, from laziness to sleep, from sleep to sin, from sin to death,
from death to the devil and hell."
- --Stephen Cossman, of Puritan England
"From these principles we may also infer what instruments should be
used. The flute ... ought not to be admitted ... but only such as
will make 'intelligent students of music or of the other parts of
education. Besides, the flute is not an instrument which is
expressive of moral character; it is too exciting. The proper time
for using it is when the performance aims not at instruction, but at
the relief of the passions... The ancients therefore were right in
forbidding the flute to youths and freemen ... experience enabled men
to judge what was or was not really conducive to virtue, and they
rejected ... the flute ... which [is] intended only to give pleasure
to the hearer...
There is a meaning also in the myth of the ancients, which tells how
Athene invented the flute and then threw it away. It was not a bad
idea of theirs, that the Goddess disliked the instrument because it
made the face ugly; but with still more reason may we say that she
rejected it because the acquirement of flute-playing contributes
nothing to the mind, since to Athene we ascribe both knowledge and art.
.... for in this the performer practices the art, not for the sake of
his own improvement, but in order to give pleasure, and that of a
vulgar sort, to his hearers ... and the result is that the performers
are vulgarized, for the end at which they aim is bad. The vulgarity
of the spectator tends to lower the character of the music and
therefore of the performers; they look to him- he makes them what they
are, and fashions even their bodies by the movements which he expects
them to exhibit.
.... feelings such as pity and fear, or, again, enthusiasm, exist very
strongly in some souls, and have more or less influence over all.
Some persons fall into a religious frenzy, whom we see as a result of
the sacred melodies- when they have used the melodies that excite the
soul to mystic frenzy- restored as though they had found healing and
purgation. Those who are influenced by pity or fear, and every
emotional nature, must have a like experience, and others in so far as
each is susceptible to such emotions, and all are in a manner purged
and their souls lightened and delighted. The purgative melodies
likewise give an innocent pleasure to mankind ... And the music will
correspond to their minds; for as their minds are perverted from the
natural state, so there are perverted modes and highly strung and
unnaturally colored melodies.
The Socrates of the Republic ... rejects the flute; for ... the flute
is ... exciting and emotional. Poetry proves this, for Bacchic frenzy
and all similar emotions are most suitably expressed by the flute."
- --Aristotle, "Politics" (submitted by Jay Sprout)
"The flute is the show-off of the wind section, the big shot:
Jean-Pierre Rampal, James Galway--both millionaires. (How
many millionaire bassoonists can you name real fast?) Well, that's
fine. Everybody knows it's the hardest, blowing across a tiny hole
with your head tilted all your life: it's like soloing on a pop bottle. The
problem with the flute is that it vibrates your brain, and you start
wearing big white caftans and smocks and eat roots and berries. You
become a pantheist and sit in meadows, and you believe that all is
one and God is everything--God is a column of air vibrating--and
you know that's not right."
- --Garrison Keillor, in The Young Lutheran's Guide to the
- "Never give a flute player a screwdriver."
"You know that I become quite powerless whenever I am obliged to
write for an instrument which I cannot bear."
- --Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, in a letter to his father, after
being commissioned to compose flute music
"When Hari puts the flute to his lips
The still are moved and the moving stilled;
Winds die, the river Yamuna stops,
crows fall silent and the deer fall senseless;
bird and beast are stunned by his splendour.
A cow, unmoving,
dangles a grassblade from her teeth;
Even the wise can no longer
hold firm their own minds."
- --Sur Das
- "SERIOUS ACCIDENT AT THE VINTNERS' HALL. On Tuesday
night an accident occurred at the Vintners'-hall, Thames-street, to a
gentleman of the name of Ireland, brother of one of the liverymen of
the company, which caused great alarm to those who were
assembled at dinner on the occasion of the celebration of the Lord
Mayor's-day. He entered the hall a little before 9 o'clock, and took
his seat nearly under the orchestra. He had not been there above ten
minutes when the flute belonging to one of the musicians dropped
from the orchestra on his head. The blood immediately flowed most
profusely, and he was for a moment stunned. Mr. May, a surgeon of
the neighbourhood, was instantly called in, who found that he had
received a slanting wound on the scalp. The wound was dressed,
after which Mr. Ireland was conveyed home in a coach. The
stewards promptly inquired how the accident originated, when it was
ascertained that while the musician was adjusting the leaves of his
music-book the flute slipped out of his hand. The man was perfectly
sober. It was stated by Mr. May that he did not anticipate any fatal
- --unnamed reporter, in The [London] Times, 12 November
1841, page 7
Good thing it wasn't a patent-head Rudall...
"And all the people went up after him, and the people were playing
on flutes and rejoicing with great joy, so that the earth shook at their
- --anonymous scribe, in First Kings 1:40
"King Frederick of Prussia thought that it was 'unkingly' of his son to
play the flute and read poetry, so he did everything he could think of
to prevent him from doing so, including executing the prince's best
friend in his presence. After Old Fred's death, Young Fred continued
to play the flute, with composer Johann Quantz as his teacher and
flutemaker. His people considered him such a success as
king--engaging in such artsy endeavors as starting the Berlin
opera--that he became known as King Frederick The Great."
- --Russell Scott, paraphrasing historian Robert Scott and
writer Kathy Russell
"The fluteplayer puts breath into a flute, and who makes the music?
Not the flute. The Fluteplayer!"
"Every music lover is familiar with the sound of the flute, which
seems to possess a magic power that emanates from its innermost
being. It speaks, it moves, it entrances, almost as if it had been
revealed to us on the glorious day of creation. And yet it is genuine
human expression, an element of language, the image of a dream
- --Meylan, in The Flute, p.9
"Q: How many classical flutists does it take to change a light bulb?
A: Only one, but she'll pay $5,000 for a gold-plated ladder."
- --Kathy Russell
"Q: How many Irish flutists does it take to change a light bulb?
A: None. There's nothing wrong with the old one that a little superglue,
almond oil, and Guinness won't fix."
"The flute is the only wind instrument which has to any appreciable
extent been adopted by women. Still, in modern times at any rate,
flute-playing has never found many votaries amongst women, and
none have ever attained the very first rank as performers. The mere
man might attribute this to the fact that one cannot flute and talk at
the same time, or possibly it may be, as a fair flautiste is recently
reported to have said, because kissing is fatal to flute-playing: in
such a contest it is, of course, the flute that goes under. In early
Victorian times, it was considered most unlady-like and vulgar. Yet
the instrument is extremely well suited for ladies. The attitude when
playing is graceful and healthy, affording ample opportunity for the
display of a beautiful arm; it is a gentle instrument requiring but little
physical exertion. Moreover, women possess more delicacy of touch
and deftness of finger than men, and their lips are softer and more
- --Fitzgibbon, in The Flute
"Flute music is love music from the heart. It must not stop, lest the
pulsing of the heart be broken."
- --Judith Redman Robbins, in Coyote Woman
"The flute calms the spirit and penetrates the ear with such sweet
sound that it brings peace and an abeyance of motion unto the soul.
And should some sorrow dwell in the mind, a care that wine cannot
make us forget and banish, it lulls us to sleep and is balm on account
of its sweet and gracious sound, provided that it adheres to modest
music and does not excite and inflame the soul with too many notes
and passages, which would weaken it and could easily come to grief
on account of the wine."
- --Meylan, in The Flute, p.11
"A flute with no holes is not a flute, and a doughnut with no hole is a
- --Chevy Chase
"When Krishna plays the flute the whole world is filled with love.
Rivers stop, stones are illumined, lotus flowers tremble; gazelles,
cows, and birds are entranced; demons and ascetics enchanted."
- --unnamed scribe, in the Bhagavata-Purana
"Street Musician: 'What is the difference between a flutist and a
Famous Musician: 'I don't know.'
Street Musician: '$50 a week, man.'"
- --unnamed writer, in New York Stories (paraphrased)
"Thy music causeth my soul to dance; in the murmur of the wind I
hear Thy flute; the waves of the sea keep the rhythm of my dancing
steps. Through the whole of nature I hear Thy music played, my
Beloved; my soul while dancing speaketh of its joy in song."
- --Hazrat Inayat Khan (a Sufi master)
"IT IS ONLY A TOOL.
A TOOL FORGED FROM
THE METALS OF THE
EARTH. FROM SILVER.
FROM GOLD. FASHIONED
BY HISTORY. CRAFTED
BY MASTERS. IT IS A TOOL
THAT SHAPES MOOD AND
CULTURE. IT ENRAPTURES.
EXHILARATES AND SOOTHES.
SINGS AND WEEPS. NOW
TAKE UP THE TOOL
AND SCULPT MUSIC
FROM THE AIR."
Muramatsu employee, on the World Wide Web
"The flautist poured his breath in quick puffs of jollity."
- --Nathaniel Hawthorne, in The Marble Faun (first use of
"flautist" to mean "flutist")
"The flute player played songs of the forest
and songs of the sky,
songs of the meadows
and songs of the sea.
all day and all night."
- --Robyn Eversole, in The Flute Player
"And if there come the singers and the dancers and the flute
players--buy of their gifts also. For they too are gatherers of fruit
and frankincense, and that which they bring, though fashioned of
dreams, is raiment and food for your soul."
- --Kahlil Gibran, in The Prophet
The poem below, entitled "Music Lesson", should be accompanied by
a picture of a man carrying a grand piano on his back up a
steep incline of stairs.
"I really should have studied flute,
Harmonica, or chimes.
A clarinet is nice and light;
A fiddle would be fine.
But I had to take piano,
And my teacher is a brute.
He lives up seven flights of stairs.
(I wish I played the flute.)"
- --Shel Silverstein, in Falling Up
"Of all the wind instruments, the flute can do the most things the
most easily. A fine performer on a flute can dash up a scale and down
again so quickly that our ears cannot separate the notes. A flutist can
skip and jump from note to note so lightly that the music reminds us of
the quickness of a rabbit or of a gazelle. He can swoop and turn and
trill the notes until we think that we are hearing a bird. Musicians say
that a flute can do anything!"
- --Jean Craig, in The Woodwinds. Minneapolis: Lerner Publications,
- "In certain Anatolian communities, to this
day, string players and performers on pipes and percussion live in
apartheid or ritual enmity. The blown reed, immediate neighbour to the
wind, the pipes of Pan, seems to mark the precarious transgression
from nature to culture. In their range, we can hear the whistling of
birds, the yelp of the fox.
They can belong to the solitary, the illiterate and those who cohabit, in
an almost animal state, with their flocks. The shrill of the pipe, mimed
by our piccolo, the tremolo of the flute, can suggest or echo a whiteness
as of madness. In fatal contrast, Apollo's lyre is the instrument of
reasoned harmony, of Pythagorean-mathematical relations and intervals. It
is crafted out of slain animals - the shell of the tortoise, the gut of
the cat. The lyre induces music towards speech, towards the textuality of
the lyric, of epic recitation. The pipes of Marsyas are the 'woodnnotes
wild' of ways of life a shade less than and prior to man; the Apollonian
lyre is that of a thoroughly humanised, divinely inspired species.
Between them ensues a homicidal rivalry."
- --George Steiner, Errata
Regarding a sign in a show window reading, "Flute for sale. Easily
"Why, although this seems at first sight so strange, does it also seem
so appropriate? It is because the flute is terrible, mysterious and
primitive... the marvellous thin pipings of the flute are a link with
older things - with a fearful ecstasy of melody in the first dawn. . .
Of all musicians, flautists are most obviously the ones who know something
we don't know... The goat eyed, the devious flute player moves softly
among us, none can see the flute he carries. He walks past unsuspecting
doormen, into public assemblies, into restaurants and parties - into
churches, even. He nods and smiles, he talks to other people, to us. He
does not reveal that he is a flute-player. For there have been rumours
- a pubful of people in Croydon discovered in a trance, from which
they have never emerged, a bus that simply disappeared across fields, a
whispered story of platelayers found sobbing in a tunnel, of thin high
music disappearing into a cave, of men discovered with a look in their
eyes like that of Mole in The Wind in the Willows, after he saw Pan..."
- --Paul Jennings, "Flautists Flaunt Afflatus"
Play from the heart; the flute is a heart song...
like a sweet prayer, and it will teach you as well
as you teach yourself.
- --Mato Wambli
"The heart of the cedar... the center of it, or the pit, is red and
soft. That has to be removed by the flute maker. And so then the flute
player, of course, has the obligation to restore that... to replace that
with his own heart."
- --Kevin Locke
"The flute resists your breath in a necessary way; the whistle offers
no resistance and the breathing is very different.
But, gradually, you start to get a buzz. You learn to 'fill' the
flute. You feel the flute vibrate when it is warm, and the little
coin-columns of air stacked beneath your fingertips dance up and down like
mercury thermometers, all registering different bouncy volatiles of
temperature. The sound begins to carry, to lift and it's surprising how a
flute carries: when you leave the session for the bog or loo or
bathroom, it's the voice you hear above the box and fiddles and
pipes and guitars."
- --Ciaran Carson, Last Night's Fun
Praise him with the strings and flute...
- --Psalm 150
When in doubt, trill.
- --John Phillip Sousa's advice to piccolo players (contributed by Lee Davis)
"Blasen ist nicht floeten, ihr muesst die Finger bewegen"
Blowing is not playing the flute, you must move the fingers
- --Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Wilhelm Meisters Wanderjahre
Translation by Steven Haaser
His brother's name was Jubal; he was the father of all who play
the harp and flute.
- --Genesis 4:21