The flute is a musical wind instrument of the woodwind family. Their sound is produced by a player blowing across an opening or a against a sharp edge at the end of a tube. The flute is regarded as the one eldest musical instruments known to man, with the earliest examples (found in Slovenia and Southwestern Germany) dating at around 40.000 years ago. Musicologists distinguish between side-blown flutes, end-blown flutes and fipple flutes.
A bottle played by blowing air across its opening is the simplest form of an end-blown flute. The European pan flute or pan pipe and the Andean sinu or zampoña draw directly from this principle, by using a group of bamboo or cane tubes of different lengths and pitches. Single tube end-blown flutes like the shakuhachi from Japan, the quena from the Andes, the xiao or dongxiao from China, the danso from Korea or the kaval from Southeastern Europe feature a sharp edge worked into their upper opening which faciliates the tone production and results into a charateritstic timbre.
Players of side-blown flutes or transverse flutes like the Western concert flutes, the Indian (classical bamboo flute) bansuri and the Chinese dizi , blow across an opening crafted into the side of the tube.
Fipple flutes feature a duct that leads the air directly towards the sharp edge (a "fipple"), which makes them easier to play compared with side-blown and end blown flutes. Examples include the Western recorder flute and tin whistle, the fujara from Slovakia and the maceño from Bolivia.
The popular ocarina, often classified separately as a vessel flute because if its closed body, comes in fipple- as well as blowhole versions.