Fingering chart for the (tenor) renaissance flute

When we remark below that a fingering for a note tends to be sharp or flat, sometimes it is supposed to be sharp or flat in meantone tuning, when compared with equal temperament. We are not advising equal temperament, but just warning that the sharpness or flatness can exceed that required for meantone. In meantone, the Bb, for example, is closer to B than to A. There is about 3/5 of a tone from A to Bb and only 2/5 of a tone from Bb to B.

If these fingerings don't work on your instrument, it may be that your flute is not a true renaissance-style instrument, but a poor copy, a fife, a "folk flute", an Irish-style flute, or a flute from another culture or tradition.

Keep hole 6 covered as often as possible for notes in the first octave. This helps support the flute.

N.B. The pitches we indicate are the true sounding pitches. But the renaissance flute was a "transposing instrument", most often playing an octave above written pitch.

= closed hole
= open hole
= half or 3/4 closed
= optional, but usually better closed

e'b Lower the breath pressure a great deal.
e' Don't blow hard.
f' Tends to be very sharp; lower breath pressure.
f'# Tends to be flat.
g' Tends to be sharp.
A weak note. Don't blow hard.
a' May tend to be sharp.
I like the first fingering, but 16C charts give the second.
b' Tends to be flat.
Use the first fingering whenever possible. It tends to be sharp, but matches the other notes on the flute best, in my opinion. However, on many flutes, it tends to overblow to d'', especially when coming from d''. If necessary, use the second fingering or a variation.
c''# Tends to be flat.
d'' Hole 1 may be partially closed if desired.
e''b Lower breath pressure.
f''# Tends to be flat.
g'' Tends to be flat. Use care.
Don't blow hard.
a'' Tends to be sharp. Shading hole 3 helps when time permits.
b''b On some flutes, a little flat for meantone.
The first fingering is the most useful. The second is always given in 16C charts, but it is very hard to keep it sharp enough.
I like the first fingering, but the second works better on many modern copies.
c'''# Tends to be flat.
A nice sound, but sometimes of slightly difficult speech. It will help to partially cover hole 1. Try leaking hole 4 if necessary. If too flat, try the second fingering.
e'''b Tends to be sharp.
e''' Tends to be flat. Leaking finger hole 1 will help with the pitch. 16C charts indicate hole 6 closed, rather than 5.
f''' This note works well on some flutes, but is difficult or, unfortunately, impossible on others. It tends to be flat. 16C charts indicate hole 6 closed, rather than 5.
f'''# Tends to be sharp, but it is important to keep it down.

Many players use the second fingering, which tends to be flat. The first fingering is best; it tends to be sharp, but matches the other notes on the flute better, in my opinion. Shade with finger 1 if it is too sharp.
g'''# Tends to be flat. Try covering hole 3 only halfway or less.
a''' Can be difficult of speech. Sometimes sharp; shading hole 1 may help a little.

Click here to return to the Fingering Charts index.