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 27, 2011

Aug 26, 2011

Review : Pfaff Nasenpfeife

Designed and conceived by Bernd Kaltenbach, owner of Pfaff-3D in Schonach in Schwarzwald (Germany), the Pfaff Nasenpfeife is a new hi-tech nose flute. First models date from 2011 and the patent is still pending.

The model is really new and modern. It's a flat 3 layers sandwich : a stainless steel plate with cut-outs, the core in translucent colored plastics, and a facing in steel or wood. 12 colors are available for the plastics, and 3 woods (pear, walnut and maple), plus the steel option. That gives 48 possible choices.

Mr Kaltenbach found a motto for his Nasenpfeife : « pfeift-wirbt-öffnet » (it whistles, it advertises, it opens). Indeed, the Nasenpfeife is not only a nose flute.
Pfeift : because of its shape, one can use it as a simple whistle.
Wirbt : the flute has a little ring which makes it usable as a keyholder. More, the facing is forecast to wear your logo.
Öffnet : last but not least, the mouth hole features a bottle opener to quench your thirst between to songs.

« -- pfeift-wirbt-öffnet --
Dieser Slogan trifft diese Weltneuheit am "Werbemittel-Himmel" sehr Präzise. Dieses kleine Instrument kann "Jeder" innerhalb nur 10 minuten spielen, ohne Notenkenntnisse oder Musikalische Vorbildung! Garantiert! Das macht Fun und kostet nicht viel. Der integrierte Flaschenöffner und Schlüsselanhänger dient zudem im Alltag für Erleichterung. Die 12 verschiedenen "Trendfarben" sorgen zudem für Abwechslung. Die Nasenpfeife ist 100% Lebensmittelecht aus hochwertigem Kunststoff und Edelstahl gefertigt. Mit Ihrem persönlichen eingravierten Logo ist die Nasenpfeife ein ganz besonderes Werbemedium ! »

The nose flute itself has a very sharp beveled plastic labium, a quite small mouth hole (4 mm high), and a very thin 3.3 cm long tapered air duct (2 mm at the nose to 1 mm or so at the mouth). At usage, the result will depends on your nose configuration. If your nose is quite flat and soft at its base, it should work fine for you. But if, like me, your nose has its separative cartilage salient underneath, an hermetic joint is simply impossible. Hence, air leaks, seriously impinging the loudness of the sound. That's a major ergonomic defect.

The Pfaff nose flute can currently be purchased for €10.95.

The Pfaff Nasenpfeife is a beautiful hi-tech gadget, very handy if used as a keyholder. If you intend to use it mainly as a nose flute, think of it twice...

Here is a sound sample (thanks to the Nosy Diva Miss Birdy K.) :

Official website : presentation video

Aug 25, 2011

Ernest W. Klein : West Coast design

Ernest W. Klein, citizen of Los ANgeles, invented a new nose flute design in 1921 (application filed Apr. 23, and patent US1437317 registered nov. 28, 1922).
The shape was rather compact, even stocky, and had an interesting feature : the mouth part was shaped like a horn, in order to operate as an amplificator, and with two lip rests.
The upper lip rest is quite conventional : it's a flap coming from the mouth hole cutting out. The lower lip rest, on the other side, is a small protrusion stamped in the metal sheet.

Thus, the nose flute is absolutely hand free.

« This invention is a toy forming a whistle adapted to be held in the mouth and blown through the nose, the improved construction providing in a device of this character, improved means for properly positioning the whistle without necessitating employment of the hands, and also affording a construction in which the volume of sound produced will be amplified. »

« It will be noted that the construction, as thus set forth, provides positive means for properly positioning the horn 3 within the mouth, since the upper teeth bear against the front lip 10, while the lower teeth impinge against the rear of bead 12, and as a consequence the horn is held in the mouth by a binding engagement adapted to prevent displacement thereof, and also affording means for properly positioning the upper portion of the device over the nostrils.»

The Klein's invention has been referenced in 1992 by Ian K. Fowler, in a patent [US5165423] applied for a magnificient « Tooth Guard Whistle ».

Cardboard again!

Today, I tried with a much thinner cardboard (a divider for note books). Much easier to cut and fold, no labium to bevel, better looking result and... it works too !

Here is a sound sample :

Aug 24, 2011

Home made : an exclusive template by

Today, is glad to offer an exclusive cardboard nose flute template. Yes, a cardboard nose flute!

If you want to challenge yourself with this, just follow the instructions below.
You'll need ... cardboard that you can pass into your printer, or, if you prefer to draw, a pen, a ruler and a compass, and in any case, rapid glue, a very sharp blade (scalpel) and a round-edge puncher.

1) print the PDF (after downloading it here or without figures here) or redo the drawings, following the dimensions given in millimeters (pic. 1).
2) Cut by following the black lines only (pic. 2).

3) Prepare the folding by drawing the white lines with the puncher (better results if you do it both sides of the cardboard). Round the "neck" out by rolling it around a tube (pic.3).
4) Clearly mark the folds in the right way (pic. 4).

5) Glue the parts that must be glued (in dark red), one by one : begin with one side of the "neck" (little triangles), then the other side, and so on. Absolutely avoid leaving holes from which blown air could escape ! (Pic. 5).
6) Cut the nose cap and mark the folds as before (Pic. 6).

7) Glue the nose cap (pic. 7).
8) With a very sharp blade, cut the bevel of the mouth hole. Try to make it at 45° (pic. 9).

Personally, after that, I applied a coat of spray painting and one of varnish, not really for esthetics, but in order to get the cardboard stiffer.

Here is the result. It's not the best nose flute I ever had, but it works correctly. And it's quite fun to build one.

If you make one, please send me some pictures!

Aug 23, 2011

A Haïku by Seitei, 1680.

Source : Robin D. Gill, Cherry Blossom Epiphany - The Poetry and Philosophy of a Flowering Tree.

Bamboo nose flute : a great japanese blog

If you are interested in making nose flutes, this blog is for you (babelish Google translation here). Mr Katada Kunio, a.k.a. Ki Kanban san is a nose flute maker who publish all his secrets!

Full of experiments, making tips and fabrication steps, perfect dimensions, work with different materials, inventions..., all is clearly illustrated by numerous pictures.

Maybe you do not read Japanese (So do I...) : not a big problem, use Google Translate service. It's surely not perfect, but helps giving an idea of what is talked about.

So, browsing the pages, you will learn the wooden nose flutes fabrication (in babelish here)
as well as how to build nose flutes from tin cans (in babelish here) or from bamboo (in babelish here).

You'll discover the numerous different designs Mr. Katada invented.

A desirable plastic novelty : the Snoot-flute

Dating of early 1960s [edit : precisely 1959, see here], the Snoot-Flute was made by PAR Beverage Corp, Cincinnati, OH. This company was actually the predecessor of Kenner Toys (the prefix "PAR" were the initials of the company founder Joseph Steiner's associates : his brother Philip and Albert, and their cousin Robert).
PAR Beverage, and then Kenner Toys, produced many plastic toys, the Bubble-matic gun, the Give-a-Show projector, the Easy-Bake and the famous Spirograph.

Aug 22, 2011

Aurion V. Chevers : the climax of compacity

In 1909, Mr. Aurion Vila Chevers, citizen of Providence, Rhode Island, files its third musical instrument patent (US951801, filed Mar. 29, 1909 and registered Mar. 15, 1910).
It is a complex musical pipe :

« This invention has for its object to produce a novel pipe, adapted for use as a musical instrument and capable for adaptation to use as a tobacco pipe. »

The object is not primarily a nose flute, but has interesting features and is planned to be mounted with nostril adapters :

« Fig. 7 is a plan view of the pipe with a bifurcated stem for two users. »

« X (Figs. 3, 4 and 11) is a terminal piece on the stem, adapted for application to a nostril, and having a flange formed to bear on the margin of the nostril to form an air tight joint. »

But Chevers won't stop in such a good way, and during ten years, will work on a new device, and this time, it is a real nose flute. He files a patent for a "Musical Instrument or Vocal Flute" on Feb. 24, 1916, and the patent US1228532 is registered on June 5, 1917.

« My invention consists of a novel form of musical instrument or vocal flute adapted to be played by application to the nostrils and mouth of the operator. The object of the invention is to provide an instrument for producing a musical sound from a current of air expelled from the lungs through the nose and directed across the open mouth, with the tone capable of variation in accordance with the form of vocal cavity in the same manner that the tones of the voice are varied in singing. »

The design is exceptionally compact, and it seems that in spite of elementary hygienic requirements, the air directly flows from the nose to the mouth.

« The pipe is very easily manipulated to adapt the mouth to act as a variable resonator and the effect produced is exceptionally pleasing and harmonious, very closely simulating the soft notes of a flute or other reed instrument. »

The vocal flute is intended to be made in hard rubber, wood, clay or metal, although this last material would provide a "metallic sound".

« The device may be constructed from any suitable material, the preferred method being to mold it from hard rubber having a smooth, polished exterior. Other varieties of material such as wood, celluloid, porcelain, clay, fiber or metal might be employed in its construction, but metal is perhaps the least suitable for the purpose since it tends to render the tone of the device metallic. »

Aurion Chevers' design includes several declinations :

« ... in order to simplify its method of operation and provide for its fullest capacity I have improved its form somewhat as shown in Figs. 5 and 6 to adapt it to be operated from both nostrils. »

For our biggest pleasure, the portraict of the inventor playing his instrument has been published in Popular Science Monthly (March 1918).

Aug 21, 2011

Review : nose flutes by Max Zycha

Two Noses flutes by Maximilan Zycha, Beiersdorf (Berlin). Max Zycha produces quality nose flutes, using a large diversity of woods, and applying a different design to each of his creations. Thus, each model is truly unique, but all take benefit of the same technical skill.

Both of my flutes give a real impression of quality and precision. The assemblings are perfect, the edges that need to be blunt are blunt, ... very clean work.
I received them mounted with a black leather lace, intended not to offer a hand-free instrument, but to be used as a necklace.

One is made in maple, with a dark cover plate in East-indian rosewood, and the other in cherrywood, plus a thuja duct cover strip. They are incredibly featherlight (one weights 16g and the other 17g).

Each flute is sign-stamped with a « Z » in a triangle.

The labium is a work of art in itself : it is the thinnest and sharpest one I ever seen made in wood. It's a double cut-away blade, flat beveled on the front, but concavely carved in a beautiful parabolic basin at the back.

The technical specifiations and the precision in carving drive to a very comfortable instrument, easy to play, with a beautiful wooden organ sound, quite loud yet.
I had some difficulties to reach the very sharp notes you can get with a metal flute, but got the most beautiful basses, deep and clear, I ever had with a nose flute.

Here is a sound sample :

If you are interested in buying such a flute, just drop a mail to Max Zycha, who will send you in return hi-res pictures of the available flutes. The current price per item, including cord, is 33 Euros. Shipping is 4.80 Euros within Germany (registered letter), and 6.50 Euros to the USA or the U.K. (registered letter).