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 17, 2012

Alan Scott and the Bushwhackers

Alan Scott (1930–1995) was born in Caboolture, Queensland, and soon became interested in Scottish and American, then Australian folk songs. Scott was an accomplished musician, playing the concertina, tin whistle, recorder and mouth organ and was a fine singer. But he also used to play the nose flute.

« In 1954, Scott travelled to Sydney where he met the eminent Australian folklore collector John Meredith and other members of the bush music revival of the 1950s. During the same year he joined Australia's first bush band the Bushwhackers. »
(National Libray of Australia, A. Scott Biography)

Initially named The Heathcote Bushwhackers, the band was formed in Sydney in early 1952. The Bushwhackers were used to perform with traditional bush instruments. In 1955 The Bushwhackers recorded The Drover's Dream with Peter Hamilton on the newly established Wattle label, ultimately selling 20,000 records after the first pressing of 200. The Bushwhackers disbanded in 1957.

Indeed, although the sound is terrible and the nose flute is almost inaudible, it really features in the record. You can "detect" it the clearliest from 0:33, 1:11 and from 1:48 :

Bob Bolton, photographer, editorial and graphics officer, Vice-President and Editor at the Bush Music Club of Sydney, wrote in a Harry kay interview:

« The band was then booked all over Sydney. They were going for quite a while then Alan Scott came down to Sydney and he joined them. He was playing the snoz-whiz' - the nose whistle ».

And elsewhere, in a forum:

« Dare I mention it ... I just acquired, for restoration and occasional playing a real old-fashioned, tin-plated nose flute! My interest had been rekindled by coming across an early photograph of the first "Bush Band" ... that started our Australian "Folk Revival" in the Early 1950s ... The Bushwhackers Band (the 1954 - 1957 Sydney original, not the unrelated 1970s to present Melbourne one). At last i had located a picture of Alan Scott - who later played tin whistle and English concertina - playing, in performance, "the Tin handkerchief" ... the nose flute!

One of the early Australian folk revival players, the late Alan Scott of the original (1953/57) Bushwhackers Band, went on to play tin whistle and (English) concertina but started out on the Nose Flute (!) ... well-known to schoolchildren of the day as The Steel Handkerchief.

I had one of the tin-plated steel ones (also called "Magic Flute" ...?) when I was a kid ... about 45 years ago, if you disregard the chattering masses!

Funny aussie nicknames, aren't they? Snoz-whiz, Tin or Steel Handkerchief...

Anyway, I managed to find the picture evoked by Bob Bolton. Here it is, beautiful shot, with Alan Scott blowing in his Magic Flute :

We propose Alan Scott for Nose Flute Hall of Fame membership!


  1. Great piece of research once again; you really have a nose for it (and so did Alan Scott!).

    I would like to hear more of his recordings.

  2. Great research, really!! chapeau!!! I would love to know how the people in "old times" reacted to the instrument....

  3. I agree. great research!.

    Very cool music and some fine instruments there. Among others, looks to me like: penny whistle, concertina, washtub bass, broom cello, horned harmonica and, of course, nose flute.


  4. Thank you my friends! Other researches in progress, and soon : a scoop! Yes, guys, a real SCOOP !!!

  5. Antoine, welcome back!

    Congratulations on your blog's 40,000th visit as well as the 10,000th already during these past few months!

    I am eager to find out about your latest!

    Keep going, keep growing, keep building, keep playing!

  6. Thanks Maikel!

    what I can tell you now is that I traced Davis (the inventor of the plastic Humanatone) and also ... Carter, the inventor of the nose flute itself!