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.

Sep 19, 2011

Ernest W. Davis : Major improvements

After Carter's and Couchois', Davis' nose flute represents a major advancement in the design. Indeed, the shape he invented is still mass produced and is a best-seller since almost 70 years, with the brand Humanatone.
Ernest W. Davis, citizen of River Forest in Illinois, filed the patent US2245432 for a « Musical Instrument » on 22th of january 1940. The patent is registered on 10th of june 1941.

« My invention relates to musical instruments and includes among its objects and advantages an extension of the pitch range and an improvement in tone quality, especially at higher pitches, in the type of musical instrument in which pitch variation is obtained by varying the volume of a cavity defined primarily by the oral cavity of the player, and, to a minor extent, by the instrument itself. »

First, Davis' instrument is supposed to be able to produce 3 octaves :

« With an instrument according to the invention, it requires only slight practice to play three full octaves, and because the lips can be drawn together to make appropriate changes in the shape of the oral cavity as the pitch goes up, the high notes can be made quite clear and harmonious ».

More, the design features a truncated cone shaped hole on the right wing of the mouth cap, providing a « true tremolo » function, when operated with a finger :

« A specific object is to enable the player to produce a true tremolo tone at will. »

« In the right wing 14 I provide a tapered tremolo aperture 32, with its large end outermost. This makes a large enough dimple in the outer surface so that the user’s finger can readily find it. With the part of the player’s mouth in a given position and the aperture 32 open, the air in the oral cavity will vibrate at a slightly lower frequency than when the aperture is closed. Thus the user, as clearly indicated in Figure 1, may use one finger, such as the index finger 34 of the right hand, to cover and uncover the aperture 32, and when this is done rapidly as by vibrating the finger across the aperture as idnicated (sic) by arrows 36 and 38 in Figure 1, a tremolo, or periodic oscillation in pitch may be obtained, the frequency of the oscillation depending on the speed of vibration of the finger 34.It will be apparent that it is a true tremolo as distinguished from a vibrato. With the aperture 32 either covered or uncovered, the player can produce a vibrato by varying the force used to produce the sound, although with such an instrument as this, the tremolo is a much more desirable musical effect. »

But the main improvement is in that the Davis' instrument is a one single part object, thus forecast to be easily produced in cast metal (which will be done with the Japanese Humanatone), but also and mostly in injected plastics, as Fred Gretsch Mfg Co. will make the modern Humanatone, then Trophy Music (Grover), until now. (see forthcoming « Modern Humanatone » history).

« Accordingly, the device can readily be produced by casting in metal in a single piece or by molding in plastic material in a single piece. »

The Davis' patent will be referenced by several instruments, including the 1987 (reg. 1988) one by Patrick Huet de Froberville (FR2616574) and the 1993 (reg. 1996) one by Michel A. Paulus (USD368485).

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