During the 18th and 19th centuries there was a state of fast change involving all elementary features of wind instruments: acoustics, materials, and mechanics. Theobalt Boehm in particular was skilled enough to combine all the knowledge of the time in his innovative designs. His metal flute must have seemed very futuristic to contemporary musicians. It was exhibited as an example of top design of his time.

Boehm's flute turned out to be incomparable and reached a sovereign status in the first half of the 20th century. For a long time there were no alternatives. The flute industry focused on how to produce complicated Boehm flutes for a continually growing market. Makers shifted their attention to mechanical and acoustical perfection. Metal became standard in flutes and debates raged only about whether silver or gold should be preferred or perhaps platinum or palladium?

Speaking about a mechanical product like the flute, it is difficult to imagine that any design could remain the standard for more than 150 years without time passing it by. Modern technology has given us the possibility to eliminate problems still remaining in the design of flutes and other wind instruments: too much weight, bad ergonomics, ragged pads, troubles with springs, adjusting problems, lack of pure intonation and weak sound, to name just a few. In the latter half of the 20th century some contemporary flute makers and designers have begun to revive the tradition of creative flute making in order to solve these problems.

Matti Kahonen was not a professional player or an instrument maker when he started his experiments with acoustics. He started fresh to make things for his own use only, as he thought in the beginning:

"I started playing violin when I was seven but gave up some years later. Then I acquired a cheap Irish transverse tinpipe and became inspired to play all kind of flutes. At the age of 16 I got my first silver Armstrong. As a child I was drawing and painting and crafted a lot of things - I was not older than seven or eight when I got my first pay by selling a pipe I made myself to an adult! At the age of 20 I was beginning to study violin making, but succeeded in getting into the University of Industrial Arts in Helsinki at the same time.

After graduating, I worked as an industrial designer and became more acquainted with modern materials and manufacturing skills. I had some ideas in the fields of lighting technology and biocomposite materials, for instance. I wanted to develop these ideas into products, so I established a company by the name of ACROBAATTI OY (Acrobat) in 1986.

In artistic and design aspects, musical instruments interested me very much. With their invisible acoustics they represent an exciting functionalism. From playing different instruments, including bamboo flutes, I had an image of sound, which was impossible to reproduce in a metal flute. It led me to a question: if modern techniques could be used to construct a lightweight body, how would it sound in a high standard instrument with modern mechanism?

In 1985, I started with laminated wood but the result was not too good. It seemed to me that the body was too soft and damped the sound and vibrations of the air column. I continued my experiments with stiffer material combinations and became convinced that, in addition to light weight, the rigidity of the tube wall improves the sound. As I knew a material with superior weight/stiffness ratio I soon constructed the first flute tube made of carbon fibre. The improvement to the sound was obvious.

The experiments and the development forced me to deepen my theory about acoustics, of course. An encouraging book among the literature I read in the beginning, was a popular book about musical instruments, called "Horns, Strings and Harmony," written by Arthur H. Benade. It led me to an exciting journey to the scientific world of musical acoustics. This journey is still continuing."

Matti Kahonen did not only develop a new type of flute body. He also designed a keywork for the carbon fibre flute body using many innovative solutions. One of the ideas was to use magnets instead of needle springs to create returning power to the keys. He presented his flute idea in a large international design competition in 1986 and patented the body construction of a wind instrument as well as magnetic springs. Winning an award in the competition made it possible to begin work on a new instrument for flutists everywhere.

ACROBAATTI OY carried out the research and development work. The fifth model was introduced to the public for the first time at the NFA convention in Boston in 1993, instantly arousing great attention and fascination. It came into production bearing the trademark MATIT. Matti Kahonen was lucky to have professional musicians helping him so that the most demanding aspects of playing could be taken into consideration. He became acquainted with Julius Heikkila and then Matti Helin, a flutist and flute enthusiast who was to become his partner. During the period of 1994-2001 Matit Flutebrothers Oy made carbon fibre flutes with a licence granted by Matti Kahonen.

The first model was produced with silver mechanism. Later, models with other materials were introduced, including the flute with solid titanium keywork!

MATIT carbon flutes are produced by ACROBAATTI OY/Matti Kahonen. The company is located in Helsinki, Finland.
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