A flute played transversely just like the modern flute, but unlike a recorder which is end-blown.

The traverso is also know as a (one key) baroque flute. Early in the Baroque Period, the traverso was made in three sections and at that time it was called the French flute. Around 1720 it started to be made in four sections: the head joint, the middle joint, the lower joint, and the foot joint. The French flutes were pitched low with an A around 392 Hz. Standard pitch tends to creep up over time so today it is common to use A=415 as a standard Baroque Period pitch. The modern pitch of A=440 is considered a bit "cold" for the baroque flute and players of period instruments need to find other likeminded musicians to play their instruments in ensembles.

The head joint is the top joint of the flute and contains the blow hole. The blow hole of the traverso is much smaller than on the modern flute. This, plus the conical bore, gives the traverso its dark tone color, and also allows for rapid correction of pitch. The top of the head joint bore is stopped off by a well fitted cork located about one bore diameter's length from the center of the blow hole. The exact position of the cork is crucial to the tuning of the flute.