The flute has a very clear and flowing sound to it. Most music has 2 or 3 flute parts. The flute alone cannot produce very much volume, so a lot of players are required in the flute section. A full-sized band will usually have 8-12 flute players.
The word flute covers a wide range of woodwind instruments, in which sound is produced by directing air across the edge of a hole. Along with the flute which is pictured here the family includes the piccolo, the fife, and panpipes. Most flutes are made of metal, usually silver; modern flutes are only occasionally made of wood. The flute is used in orchestras, wind bands, and jazz bands to give a bright, silvery sound. It is played by blowing across the blowhole. Apart from the piccolo, the flute is the only instrument in the orchestra that is played in this way. The pitch range is three octaves, it is keyed in concert-pitch, and it measures approximately 26 inches long and just under 1 inch in diameter. There are other larger flutes called the alto flute and the bass flute, but they are very seldom used in concert bands, and are rarely used in orchestras.
At one time there was another kind of flute pitched in Eb, called the Eb Flute, that was often used in bands. However, the use of this instrument fell out of favour by about the 1930s. Pitched between the piccolo and the flute, it was sometimes used instead of the piccolo in band arrangments where the high range of the piccolo was not needed. If an an older piece of music has a part for Eb Flute it would exist as a "Eb Flute/Eb Clarinet" part which meant it could be played by either instrument. Eb Flutes are now long-gone and no longer used, but Eb clarinets are still part modern band.