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.

Dec 6, 2011

The Vociphone : an early Belgian patent

The Vociphone was filed for a patent (BE246727) on thursday 13th of June, 1912, at 12:10 AM, by Mr François Vandervaeren, Belgian citizen of Brussels (121, rue de Laeken). It was notably sold at the Roberty's Vandervaeren company (124, Boulevard du Nord, renamed in 1918 Boulevard Adolphe Max).

The Vociphone was packed in a cardboard box in the bottom of which was stuck the user manual, saying : « Le Vociphone est la dernière nouveauté instrumentale trouvée jusqu'à ce jour. Les enfants comme les grandes personnes peuvent jouer l'instrument sans aucun apprentissage ni professeur. » ("The Vociphone is the last musical novelty found until now. Children as adults can play the instrument without any learning or teacher"). And ending with « Le Vociphone se joue en famille comme en société. Essayer c'est l'adopter. » ("The Vociphone can be played in the family as in the society. To try it is to adopt it.")

In the patent documents, the description says : « Musical instrument novelty reproducing in a perfect manner the human voice, and called "Vociphone".»

On the patent drawings, the Vociphone has the rather common shape of the nose flutes from this time, but features a angled air duct cap and 4 little eyelets (numbered "9") maybe used with a lace for hand-free playing, but unfortunately not yet documented in the patent (the one a the bottom of the mouth cape is particularly strangely positioned...)

The Vociphone was planned to be built in "any appropriate material, tin plate, nickel, etc.". It was commercialized, but with a shape quite similar to the original metal Humanatone.

Photos : © Jacques Cools and Larigot (ACIMV)

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