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.

Jun 5, 2012

Humanatone: Early promotional demos

The first humanatone was launched in 1903. The "New Musical Wonder" was immediately advertised in catalogs (musical instruments, toys for Christmas, ...). But apart of some (later) use of it by rare Jazz or Blues bands, or some humorists on stage, it was rather difficult to promote a new instrument, played with the nose! (remember there was no Internet, no TV and that the first radio program dated of 1920 in Washington DC, and 1922 in New York).

So, the Humanatone company recruited musicians in order to promote the nose flute on markets or in department stores. I found some of the original classified ads, mostly from 1908 and 1909.

April 14, 1908, in the Chicago Daily Tribune :

February 21, 1909, in the San Francisco Call :

May 7, 1909, in the Los Angeles Herald :

June 2, 1909, in the San Francisco Call :

They all are different, but all claim for a cornet player, and the first and last ones for a piano player. Indeed, I suppose the demo was played by a duo piano/nose flute, like shown on the Humanatone user manual :

But why a cornet player ? OK, a cornet player knows the music, but a violonist too ! Breath? probably. So why not a flautist ? Or even a clarionist ? A cornet is played by pressing the valves. No special need of that knowledge with a nose flute!... Maybe did the classifieds search for another kind of cornet player ?

Here are two advertisements for the same event, forecast during a week and with an apex on the Saturday 5th of December 1908. You can read in them « Free Humanatone Concerts Daily » and « Free Humanatone concerts »

December 2, 1908, in The Evening World (New York) :

December 4, 1908, in The Evening World (New York) :

What's interesting is that it is printed "Humanatone concerts" and not "Nose flute concerts", meaning that Humanatone was already famous as a brand. Then, in the concerts list, the Humanatone is placed on top line.

The second concert is a Sonophone concert. Sonophone was a new brand (1908) of instruments. Those Sonophones were ... cornets! Not the classical type, no, but kazoos-like, with a vibrating membrane. No valves, you made the note by humming the tune. Exactly like the Zobo instruments family, which were already on the market since 1896.

So, was the Humanatone company looking for a classical cornet player, or for a kazoo-cornet one ?


About metal Humanatones, check :

- Humanatone - part I : the metallic era
- New Humanatone ads
- The Two metal Humanatones
- Another metal Humanatone
- Humanatone boxes
- Another Humanatone box
- Humanatone: A very early user manual
- The Magic (Nose) Flute: only questions... .
- A Humanatone and clones chronology
- A Humanatone in 1892 ?
- Humanatone: Early promotional demos
- Another Humanatone archive
- Huma... something
- Rectification: Humanatone appearance date
- Great paper from 1903
- Nose Flute Pioneers: The Stivers - Part I
- Nose Flute Pioneers: The Stivers - Part II
- Nose Flute Pioneers: The Stivers - Part III
- Nose Flute Pioneers: The Stivers - Part IV
- Nose Flute Pioneers: The Stivers - Part V
- A Humanatone as a scientific tool
- Two other Humanatone Ads

And on later Humanatones :

- Humanatone - Part II : the Gretsch plastic era
- Humanatone - Part III : the Gretsch metal era



  1. Hello lovers all over the world. Antoine, your question "Why Coronet Players?" has got me thinking. I have 2 theories. #1- Is it possible the Humanatone Co. was looking for players who could STAND and PLAY for LONG periods of time? Historically, Coronet/Trumpet Players usually Stand and/or March when playing their instrument. Perhaps the STAMINA needed for these Department Store Concerts made Coronet Players perfect for the job. #2- their Lung Capacity and Breathing Techniques enabled them to Play the noseflute Better and Longer than Most. I have NO Scientific Evidence to validate these ideas. Just an Opinion. THANK YOU for this WONDERFUL addition to

  2. Hello Brian,

    Thank you very much for your comment! Well, you are surely right, it is a question of breath and endurance... But what surprises me, is that specification of "cornet". I mean : doesn't a trumpet player have the same king of lung power? Or a hornist? If so, why not have looked for a "brass instrument" player? Or maybe the cornet was the most common of these instruments, and thus, the cornetists the easiest to find?

    Thank you, and receive my kindest greetings,