So I'm in a country where, when I browse flutes online, they have notes written next to the name of the flute in the syllabic form. So for instance you have a "Kaval flute" with "Si", "Sib", "Re", or "Mi" written next to it. These flutes are made of wood, have a thin-ish mouth piece and 6 or 7 holes, most of the ones I saw have 7. They are also blown into, not across (so more like a recorder flute).

I have zero knowledge of music and music theory and so I want to start with something basic but that will also allow me to play whatever I wish to learn.

My question is, when choosing a wooden flute, what does the note next to the name mean? Because I thought notes were more related to the pitch/high/low sound you produce when actually using the instrument, so why does the instrument itself also get a note? I also want to know which note to choose for the broadest range of potential, with a bias towards a deeper sound.

Any help would be appreciated.

  • All of the Kavals with recorder type mouthpieces that I have seen have been very poor quality and hardly playable. Traverse (side blown) Kavals are very difficult to play.
    – PiedPiper
    Jul 29, 2019 at 8:01
  • Recorder - has fipple; "Blockflote" . Flute - open blow hole, "Querflote" Jul 29, 2019 at 15:19

2 Answers 2


The syllabic form is the fixed Solfège note name of its base tone, with Sib corresponding to Si bemolle or b flat. Assuming the instruments are all in the same octave, the Re corresponding to d would be the lowest. (If you have picture or length specifications, it would be the longest, which gives the deepest pitch.).

I would definitely buy a standard recorder if not directly targeting wold music, even a plastic one from a well-known manufacturer achieves sufficient quality for a beginner and require only simple maintenance. This also makes sure, that all semitones are available, which is sometimes a problem with flute-like instruments.

  • Wood flutes are quiet temperamental in regards to atmospheric conditions. They don't take to humidity well and I'm not sure if the wood ones have any meaningful tone improvements that warrant there temper.
    – Neil Meyer
    Jul 29, 2019 at 15:08
  • @NeilMeyer OTOH most professional flutists use a wooden piccolo, albeit with metal headjoint. So there you go. :-) Jul 29, 2019 at 15:18
  • Thanks to all for the answers/comments. I bought a Kaval with two recorders just because they were all so cheap (but the reviews on the recorders indicated they were really good). The longest Kaval I was able to find was 44.3 cm, labelled "La", which I read was on the deeper side.
    – Sil
    Jul 29, 2019 at 21:03

Most wind instruments have a sort of fundamental, natural note that is basis for them. Trumpets are often B♭, saxes either E♭ or B♭, so are all transposing instruments.

It appears that your flutes are of similar ilk. The 'Si', Sib', 'Re' etc., are the basic key of the instrument. In the fixed do system, Si is the key of B, Sib is B♭, Re is D. Just knowing that information isn't enough though. That info will help when you need to play in certain keys - although it's a little confusing in itself, but basically, you will want to buy the biggest/longest flute for the lowest sounds you want to play.

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