Everything your want to know about:

Whistle tones

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

Whistle tones in short:

Whistle tones are very soft sounds based on the harmonic series. They sound like a very high and soft whistle.


Different words are used for this technique. Some call it whisper tones, some call it whistle tones or whistle sounds. Most composers simply write  Whistle Tones or W.T. in the score if they want you to use this technique.

Sometimes the pitch is given:

Sometimes the pitch is random:

If you need to play whistle tones on a harmonic, the fingering you need to use is written with a diamond-shaped note.

Piccolo - alto flute - bass flute

This technique can be used on all flutes.

Composer information

As a separate technique, this technique is fairly easy to realize when a random sound is needed. It becomes a greater challenge when the tone has been set, when different tones have to be produced with one fingering and when you alternate quickly with traditional sounds. Higher whisper tones are also easier to produce than low whisper tones.
These sounds are very soft and don’t really work in a large room or hall unless you amplify the sound of the flute.

Flute players

The position of the tongue is important to stabalize the whisper tone.

Studying whisper tones on the flute is useful for:
– Embouchure control
– Precise, flexible embouchure
– Good, steady breath control


Here you can listen to a short example of whistle tones. I’m playing Mei by Fukushima.

Another example: In Tandem for flute, viola and harp by Yon Chekhanovich. This piece starts and ends with whisper tones on the flute.