Flute, a wind instrument, which has been in use from a remote period of antiquity. Among the Greeks professional players took part in religious celebrations, and contests of rival performers were a common feature of daily life. There are two kinds of flute - the direct and the transverse. The old English flute, or flute-'a-bec, belonged to the former class; and it received its name from the shape of the mouthpiece at the upper end of the tube, which was supposed to resemble the beak of a bird. Flutes of this kind are held by the player at right angles to the line of the face, whereas the transverse or "German" flute is held across the body. Transverse flutes have an oval-shaped mouth-hole in the side of the tube. The ftute-d-bec had 7 finger-holes, but the modern instrument has 6 finger-holes and about 14 keys. The transverse flute supplanted the flute-a-bec about the middle of the 18th century, mainly owing to the influence of Handel, who made use of it in his orchestra. It has been much improved since his time, and now has a compass of nearly 3 octaves from the middle D to A sharp. Among the various kinds of transverse flute are the tierce or E flat, the octave, and the C piccolo.