A probably humorous short story from Analog Magazine probably in the later part of the last century, the '80s or '90s.

On an Earth colony planet strange things happen when an alien musical instrument nicknamed "the demon flute" is played. It got its nickname because it was found in the ruins of an alien city on a planet of the star Algol, the "demon star".

If you Google Demon Flute you find the phrase has been used, for example in the anime Naruto, and the game Monster Hunter. Thus "demon flute" may come from legend or mythology and the instrument may not have actually resembled a flute very much. I think it looked more like a saxophone in the illustration.

  • Was it definitely a flute, or could it have been another musical instrument?
    – Adamant
    Feb 5, 2017 at 16:39
  • 1
    No it was an alien instrument, found in the ruins of an alien city, an resembled a flute enough to be called "The Demon Flute". Feb 5, 2017 at 16:54
  • What I mean to ask is whether it was definitely specifically referred to as “a demon flute” in the story.
    – Adamant
    Feb 5, 2017 at 16:54
  • In the story its popular nickname in newspaper equivalents etc. was "the Demon Flute" because it came from "the Demon Star" Algol. Feb 5, 2017 at 17:03

1 Answer 1


"Music Hath Charms" by Timothy Zahn. From a review:

“Music Hath Charms” - On Algol VI, Javie and his wife talk about the new instrument called the Demonflute, which will be premiered tonight at a concert. Meant to rejuvenate a once popular form of music, they slowly figure out its alien origin and the deadly ramifications it might have on the people who hear it! Will Javie be able to intervene in time?

Search terms of science fiction short story algol flute

  • Search terms of science fiction short story algol flute, about six down for me.
    – FuzzyBoots
    Feb 5, 2017 at 17:29
  • Yes. Timothy Zahn's "Music Hath Charms" Analog April 1985. books.google.com/… Feb 5, 2017 at 18:09

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