This blog is dedicated to the sublime instruments called nose flutes and which produce the most divine sound ever. We have chosen to discard all the native models from S. Pacific and Asia, for they need fingering to be played. We'll concentrate on "buccal cavity driven" nose flutes : the well patented and trademarked metal or plastic ones, plus, by a condemnable indulgence, some wooden craft or home-made productions.

Aug 1, 2014

RON, an Ergonomic Approach - Part II

Sequel of the post RON, an Ergonomic Approach - Part I

Let's follow on the unpacking of the collection that Mr. Sawada sent to me!

4 - Wooden Hanabue No. 209

When I wanted to choose one among the available wooden nose flutes, Mr. Sawada sent me a picture showing a 21 hanabue (7x3) disposal: 7 colors (7 woods), each in 3 available sizes. The size was measured between the nose air entrance and then fipple: 18, 21 or 24 mm. Once again: the ergonomic approach!

So, I measured the gap between the base of my nose and my mouth, and choose the 21 mm in sophora wood, the « Pagoda tree » (エンジュ - Enju). This "No. 209" s a pure geometric beauty. The wooden nose flutes made by RON are totally different from the cardboard or the clay ones: they are little geometric sculptures. The outside look is perfectly squared with right angles (well, they are smoothed on the edges, for sure), while the inside is designed with geometric round curves, in order to fit closely the shapes of our face.

The air entrance is a narrow slot very precisely made in a concave conic section, and the fiplle is... tiny. Indeed, it is very narrow (10mm) and the mouth hole is incredibly small (3mm high), definitely orienting the tone range to the trebles. The angle of the labium is rather sharp (somehow 23°), and the fipple itself is also very precisely done.

This model is supplied with a small ring to be hung by a cord around the neck, but has no piercings to pass a rubber for handsfree playing.

The flute has been lightly varnished with a satiny coat which raises up the beauty of the sophora wood and reveals some iridescence (the tint turns from light to dark when you change the incidence of the light)

5 - Clay Hanabue No. 508 and L004

These two nose flutes, which look rather similar, are the RON "signature". Indeed, it is with such tile-shaped clay hanabue, with their very recognizable pair of black eyes, that Yoshihiro Sawada began his production and became renowned.

These nose flutes are very simple, yet nicely made, with a rounded front and a contoured inside. But they are not just "cut from a cylinder": there is a very slight counter-curve on the longitudinal axis, making them more a light "hyperbolic paraboloïd".

The inside contours show two parts, the nose saddle, which is wide and comfortable, and the mouth shield with its oval fipple hole.

Both the fipples a very small — trebles oriented — but one is even smaller (No. 508), particularly in its width, which is 1/3 less long than the L004 one. These fipple are nicely made, and knowing they are so small, it is really appreciable. On the front side, the labium angles appear to be slightly different.

Both these flutes are made with a thin clay plate. They are light and elegant.

Some details :


To be continued!

RON, an Ergonomic Approach - Part I

In 5 years, Japan has become *the* country — I mean the paradise — for nose flute lovers. Many player, organizations, events like perfomances, shows, exhibitions, competitions, radio and TV broadcasts... and even more: a number of nose flute craftsmen, amateur or professional, that grows from day to day, from the first hanabue maker Hiroaki Sasaki, to the psychedelic Akio Takamura & Go Nagayama, with the inventive Kunio Katada, the carpenter Takuma Ikeyama, and a rather newcomer, Yoshihiro Sawada, aka "RON".

Yoshihiro Sawada, photo by Yu Takagi:

I contacted Mr. Sawada in 2012, I think, with the purpose of ordering some of his very recognizable clay nose flute — they've got a pair of eyes with lashes painted on them — but RON answered me something like "I'm am sorry, I'm not totally satisfied, I have to work more on them".

After I recently saw that RON nose flutes were sold at some hanabue exhibitions, I contacted Yoshihiro and asked again. I made my market among the ones that were still available, but at the moment to ask for the price, I got no answer. I tried again to ask, and was answered « these nose flutes are a gift for you ». WOW!!!! What a great gift!!! Thank you a lot Mr. Sawada!

What I received were not only the 5 initial nose flutes I wanted to order, but also 16 more nose flute, ingeniously made from cardboard. Because Mr. Sawada has also designed several brillant (easy to build / efficient when played) cardboard nose flute templates. And besides the clay, he also works the wood...

1 - Paper Family 1

Among the numerous nose flutes I received from RON, there are several "families" of cardboard flutes. The first group looks to be named w15 and is composed of 8 different sizes — from 3 to 10 — dedicated to the different physiognomies, from little children to tall giants. In fact, Mr. Sawada, as written in the title, follows an ergonomic approach, notably regarding the distance between the nostrils and the mouth.

The w15 has simply been printed on cardboard (bristol), precisely cut and glued. And As yu can see, it is a clever model, in that that it doesn't need a PhD in fine arts to mount it: it's an easy-to-build noseflute. The labium is even adjustable, the airway is prismatic — thus providing the requested Venturi effect of air acceleration —, the nose saddle is comfortable and... and it has a great and funny look with its pair of eyes!

The difference between the small and big sizes really appears on the length of the airway, as the top and bottom parts of the flutes remain the same. Thus, the angle that the airway cover makes with the body dramatically increases with the shortest sizes. Also, since the airway length varies, attack does accordingly (the shortest provides more attack). That's also the reason for an adjustable labium, since the air angle depends on the flute size. All of that was very cleverly thought and designed.
Finally, on the shorty, the space left to place the eyes is very small, just under the nose saddle, and so, the baby looks a bit angry :)

2 - Paper Family 2

Yoshiro Sawada also sent me the four sizes of an even clever cardboard nose flute he designed. Why "even clever"? Because this model is the simplest possible (I guess) template one could achieve: 2 parts, 6 foldings, 1 hole and only 2 points of gluing. It is declined in the sizes S, M, L and LL.

On this model, the airway is not "external" but "internal": it is a piece of carboard which is used to form a trapezoidal frustum shaped airway, and at the same time is used as a "bridge" to keep the nose flute in its folded shape. Once again: very clever!

3 - Other paper

On the same system but with broader lateral "wings", RON made decorated nose flutes, either printing text and images on the template, or using photos, producing beautifully customized hanabue.