Mr. René Mellier is now in the beginning of his eighties, and began making his nose flutes when retired. He also built small size barrel organs, and was interested in wind instruments physics and acoustics. It was at the IRCAM where he was following a course, that he was shown the book Instruments à vent, by Henri Bouasse, 1929, and was particularly interested in the little tin plate "toy" sold by "carnies", depicted in the following pages :
Mr. Mellier decided to build a small instrument following the same principle, and after several attempts, created the Nasiphone.
Later, René Mellier was asked to present the instrument in a TV show. But the TV producer got afraid by the instrument name, because it sounded like "nazi-phone" (!!)... So, for the circumstances, a new name was found, the Mellibrou, by concatenation of the beginning of Mr. Mellier's name with Brou, which is the village where he lives.
There are two models of Nasiphones : one large for adults, and a smaller one for children. I ordered both, and received them packed in a rolled user manual.
The Nasiphone is made of zinc plate, plus a wooden nose rest. The zinc part is a sandwich made of 3 plates : a long central one, in which is cut the mouth hole, soldered to two shorter and angled ones, fixed on the wood part by brass nails. They form a very thin air duct, as thin as the central plate is thick (0.65 mm - 1/4"on my palmer). This is a very easy and simple, but clever way to set the duct thickness...
The Mellibrou profile is interesting too, notably the way it is angled :
Well, the Nasiphone is not chiseled like a silversmith piece, but its roughness, rusticity and simplicity are parts of its appeal. Each Mellibrou is stamped with Mellier's initials, plus the year of making.
I wouldn't say the Nasiphone is the most comfortable flute I ever tried, neither the most beautiful, nor the best sounding... But it works, with a large range of notes from basses to sharps, and exhales a real character of authenticity and friendliness.
The only real flaws are the formation of condensation (probably because of a Z shape of the beginning of the air duct), which imposes to dry the flute (with a hard blow in the nose holes) after 15 minutes of playing, and a tendency to "over whistle" (some stridents unwanted sounds, maybe due to a flat labium).
Here is a sound sample :