View Full Version : Question about flute with a ukulele

Gary Gill
11-09-2011, 01:27 PM
If a flute is being played along with a ukulele and the song is in the key of G, should the flute be in the key of G also? Just wondering if the idea of a harmonica being played in a different key "cross harping" might apply to a flute also. I am specifically thinking about a end blown flute or Irish whistle.

11-09-2011, 01:44 PM
on my youtube account there are a few videos of my sister and I playing the uke and flute together. we always play in the same key, but I don't know anything about cross harping, maybe someone else can fill us in?

11-09-2011, 01:52 PM
The traditional transverse flute is a chromatic instrument capable of playing in any key.

Most tinwhistles (like most harmonicas) are not chromatic. In that case, you would need a whistle pitched to the same key the uke is playing.

I've never heard of "cross harping".

11-09-2011, 02:33 PM
'Cross' harp applies only to harmonicas because the standard harmonica is not chromatic and does not have all of the notes in the scale. Some notes are omitted so that one can play chords as well as single notes. Blues or rock harmonica players like to 'bend' notes for that wailing bluesy sound, and they use a harmonica which is a fourth higher than the key that the song is written. i.e. If playing in E, one would use an A harmonica. Still playing in E but one is able to bend the appropriate notes.
I hope this makes sense to non harmonica players. :)

Gary Gill
11-09-2011, 02:59 PM
Thanks for information. I am making some simple PVC whistles in various keys.

mm stan
11-09-2011, 04:08 PM
Contact PM, cokecan72 he plays the uke and his wife's friend plays the flute. he has posted here and You tube...

11-09-2011, 04:26 PM
Actually, you can cross-flute tinwhistles very similarly to harps - though getting really good bluesy bends on a tinwhistle is pretty tough (at least I always found it so).

Native American flutes don't "cross" so well because they are in a pentatonic, vs diatonic, scale.

Something I haven't gotten around to trying because I'd have to set up to multi-track is NAF with ukulele. Very often in blues and rock one solos using primarily the relative minor pentatonic scale (i.e. the sixth, Am in key of C, Em in key of G, etc.). It seems like a NAF in A should work really well for soloing over a ukulele playing a song in C. One of my favorite NAFs is in A... I also have one in low E...

I keep telling myself that one of these days I'll blow the dust off my flutes, hook up some microphones, and give it a try. So far it hasn't happened. :)


11-09-2011, 04:37 PM
The most common Irish flutes and tin whistles are in the key of D, and can be played in the key of G with just a couple of cross fingerings.


11-09-2011, 05:49 PM
Yes, the most common whistle key is D; it is also possible to get whistles in many other keys (most commonly C, Eb, F, G, A, and Bb, though I believe Susato makes whistles in every key). As Bradford says, whistles play well in the fourth of the "main" key. Therefore, a D whistle also plays in G, a C in F, an Eb in Ab, and so on. You only need a few whistles to be able to play in most of the common keys, though whistle players tend to be as prone to WhOA as uke players are to UAS.

Irish flutes are much easier to get in D than any other key, though there are people who make relatively cheap PVC flutes in all the common keys. The more expensive flutes are made with at least a few silver keys (not at all on the same system as the Boehm flute); they allow players more versatility.

Long story short: if you're playing in G, a D whistle will probably be fine. I often prefer to play songs in G on the D whistle because it lets me dip down to the lower fifth.

11-10-2011, 04:18 AM
The kind of flute I play is the vessel flute, more commonly known as ocarinas.
They are chromatic (plays all the flats and sharps), so you can play them in any key with transposition.

This is also the case with concert flutes.

We call these instruments "transposing instruments".

You're a bit limited with non-transposing instruments, like the tin whistle, which are designed to play in a specific key and don't have fingerings for the sharps and flats (unless you use half-holing).

Actually this applies to all instruments - no need to restrict it to flutes and ukes :)

Here is an example: