I am wondering if the holes in flutes have a particular name. I am assuming that all wind instruments share the same name for their holes, but I am not sure what it might be.


StoneyB has given you the basics and I mainly agree with him (except I've always spelled tone hole as two words), but here's a bit of illumination.

I am a flutist (you can call me a flautist if you pay me more) and here is a picture of my concert flute, with which I used to play in orchestras when I was younger:

Muramatsu professional flute

You may be surprised to learn that there are two kinds of holes for that instrument: the tone holes, which are covered by the padded keys, and on certain keys there are holes in the keys themselves. (This is true for clarinets and a few other woodwinds as well, though not saxophones and not the bass versions of woodwind family).

The holes in the keys are there to ensure correct finger posture, and a flute with these "perforated" keys is called an "open-hole" or French model flute.

I have never heard the holes in the perforated keys called "finger holes," but it's possible they are called that in languages other than English. That designation is reserved for a flute that has no (or few) keys, like a Baroque flute, the unkeyed holes of which are called "finger holes" because the fingers directly cover the tone holes.

  • And the hole that you blow across is called the embouchure hole, right? – Mixolydian Apr 15 '19 at 3:36
  • and just to clarify, the "finger holes" are optional on a flute and a flute with them is referred to as an open hole'd flute, they were often used as practice for people who had issue with finger positioning, however, when you think about it, the normal flutes with closed holes allow for lazyiness.. – BugFinder Apr 15 '19 at 10:23
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    "The holes in the keys are there to ensure correct finger posture" - that is really a side effect. They also allow alternative fingerings, better intonation for quarter tones, easier multiphonics, etc. In fact many beginners start with closed hole flutes for simplicity (not for laziness), but professionals use open hole flutes for the extra functionality. – alephzero Apr 15 '19 at 10:33
  • @Mixolydian: Yes, the hole on the lip plate is the embouchure hole. – Robusto Apr 15 '19 at 12:45
  • @alephzero: That's what Wikipedia would have you believe. I've never found any of those things to be very useful or practical. – Robusto Apr 15 '19 at 12:49

Holes in wind instruments which control pitch are generally called toneholes or tone holes, but this term is often reserved for holes covered by pads operated by "keys". Holes covered by the fingers are fingerholes or finger holes.

  • I learned them both as tone holes, but the ones on keyed instruments being also called keys (confusingly, given the key is also the key), and those on non-keyed instruments being also called finger holes. – SamBC Apr 14 '19 at 23:33
  • My axe during the brief time I left percussion was the bassoon, which has both fingerholes and keyed toneholes AND 'ring' keys activated by covering the fingerholes they surround. But my instructor almost never referred to the holes themselves, just the fingers (or 'heel') used to cover them. – StoneyB on hiatus Apr 15 '19 at 0:40

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