Everything your want to know about:

Microtones & quartertones

Have fun with extended techniques! Using them also gives you better flute control!

Microtones & quartertones in short:

Quarter tones are a quarter tone higher or lower. Microtones are even less higher or lower. Most quarter tones/microtones require different fingerings. A flute with open holes is an advantage when performing this technique. The timbre is also different.


Quarter tones and microtones are usually indicated by a accidental or beam without notehead. Usually the alternate fingerings are written under or over the note. Some composers add the fingerings to the appendix of a piece.

These accidentals can be used in scores. Composers sometimes mean different things by a symbol. Always check the foreword of a piece.


1/4 higher than a regular sharp

1/4 higer than a regular sharp

regular sharp

1/4 lower than a regular sharp

1/4 lowe than a regular sharp

1/4 higher than a regular flat

1/4 higher than a regular flat

normal flat

1/4 lower than a regular flat

double flat

1/4 higher than a regular natural

1/4 lower than a regular natural

Piccolo - alto flute - bass flute

This technique can be used on all flutes. The fingerings are not always the same for piccolo, C-flute, alto flute and bass flute.

Composer information

This technique can easily be realized as a separate technique. In fast passages it becomes more difficult. The possibilities depend on the flute player’s flute. Always check whether your flute player is playing a flute with open holes or closed holes.
The fingerings to use for playing quarter tones and microtones are not very common to most flute players. Therefore, write down the fingering below or above the note in the score.

In this video you can see the fingerings and hear what they sound like:

Flute players

To download the microtone fingering chart, go to ‘Composer Information’ on this page.

Studying quartertones and microtones on the flute is useful for:
– Aural skills
– Flexibility


Here you can listen to a short example of a microtonalic scale. I’m playing Xi by Stockhausen.


Another example of a piece including quarter tones: Together by Alex Ford