The Flute Academy
Is it possible to play chords on a flute?

Flute Q&A #38: Is it possible to play chords on a flute?

Nov 21, 2022

This question for Flute Q&A #38 comes from Rachel. Now, this is not the Rachel who is the (amazing) assistant flute teacher inside The Flute Academy, this is another Rachel! And her short and sweet question is:

"Is it possible to play chords on a flute?"

The short answer is "Yes, and no. But mostly no..." :)

Have a listen to the much more elaborate answer in the video (complete with a demonstration of a multiphonic for you to learn yourself).

Is it possible to play chords on a flute?

Rachel, the video called "How to play 2 notes at once on the flute" can be watched right here. And to improve your tone instantly, register for the free mini course with me here

Feel free to ask your flute question for an upcoming Flute Q&A by clicking here


Welcome to Flute Q and A number 38. This question comes from Rachel and she says, Is it possible to play chords on a flute? So Rachel, I have a short answer and a long answer for you.

Instant improvement on the flute

Firstly, my name is Jane Cavanagh. I'm a flute teacher and I teach people just like you, how to get instant improvement on your flute by learning proper technique. So when you learn the tweaks of the little adjustments of proper flute technique, you get instant improvement, instant progress and basically you just improve a whole lot faster than if you try and figure it out for yourself. All learn the wrong technique.

Flute can't play chords

Okay, so Rachel's question, Can you play chords on a flute? So the short answer, Rachel, is no because the flute is not an instrument like a piano or a harp or a guitar. And it has multiple strings and you can use either keys or fingers to activate multiple strings at once and play the chord. It's not like that.

Double stops on violin

So there are some instruments like violin that can definitely play two notes at once because they have more than one string. But the way the violin's designed and the bow, it really can't reach, for example, four strings all at once. But it can definitely do two and get a good solid sound on two notes at once. It's not a normal, it's not a common technique in violin music, although it is used very beautifully by many composers.

Two notes on the flute at once

Flute, you can kind of hack your way into two notes at once. You wouldn't really call that chord, but you can hack your way into two notes once, and I've got a demonstration for you. I thought I should also point out Rachel, that I've done a video on this actually and I called the video, it's about a year or more ago, How to play two notes at the same time on the flute. So I'll put a link to that video and it goes into more depth for you.

Multiphonics on the flute

But just to get you started, if you wanna play two notes on the flute at once, you do something called a multiphonic. Here's an example of a multiphonic. Put your fingers on for the note F. So just regular F and then add both the trill keys on your right hand. So both the trill keys, add them down and you'll be able to get these two notes. And so then if I now try and get both of those notes at once, if I'm lucky or skilled - there you go.

Extended technique on the flute

It's kind of a chord on the flute hacking your way to chords on the flute. That's probably a bit unfair cuz multiphonics like this, they're actually an extent, they're called an extended technique or a contemporary technique and they're used in more modern flute compositions.

Blending two notes together on the flute

So this is a real technique for modern flute music. So the way to get these, if you just paused the video and tried that and you went, ah, I can't get two notes at once. Try getting the low one first and you need to blow quite softly and then get this top one separately and then try and get them together. So it's the way to learn multiphonics, get each note individually and then try and blend them.

How to improve your tone on the flute

Okay,  there was one more thing I wanted to say to you, Rachel. Although, the other thing was if you or anyone watching this video would like to improve their tone, their tone on the flute and improve it instantly, I've got  3 tips for you.

Free flute mini course on tone

They're like insights, amazing insights into instantly improving your tone. Go to www.flute.school and you can sign up for the free minicourse, it's called, How to Instantly Improve Your Tone on the Flute because it literally, instantly improves your tone. So if you wanna learn those three tips, go there, do the free minicourse, and I'll see you there. Bye.

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