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 8, 2012

Historic Nose Flutes - Grierson's Whistle: Review

Some historic nose flutes have totally disappear or haven't even been produced or commercialized. Our goal, here, is to reconstruct them, as close as possible to the original, with the help of the patent drawings and descriptions.

[Sequel of the posts Grierson's Whistle: Drawing a template and Building the flute ]

Last step before the review, I nickel plated the Grierson's whistle. My replica was far from being perfect, and my electroplating is in accordance: a bit unveven :)

Here is the nose flute:

The Grierson's whistle is a huge piece. It is heavy and tall, which is rather unusual for a nose flute of the 1920's. But it also shows other singularities.
The large "hollow" front face has never been seen before, and will never feature again on another instrument.
But the most interesting novelty is the flute "elephant profile", with a rounded heel that need to be inserted in the mouth, just behind the lower lip. It is not uncomfortable, but it doesn't help "freeing" the mouth for sound effects, or even to reach sharp notes.

The Grierson has also an upper lip rest, with a more classical shape but rounded. I carefully sanded mine not to wound my lip, but one can reasonably wonder how harmful it could have been, stamped from the mouth hole, when (whether) industrially produced...

Despite these two lip rests, the Grierson is not a handsfree nose flute. It is too heavy and needs a hand or a rubber band to be retained tightly under the nose.

The front is hollow because Grierson wanted to create a amplification effect: indeed, the air duct top and the rounded base of the flute form a kind of horn shape, like a ear trumpet.

I am not sure that this feature is really efficient, and I must admit that the Grierson whistle is not a good nose flute.

The tonality range is rather limited and the sound is weak. I may have not been precise enough when building it, or have not respected the specifications... but anyway, there is no beveled labium but just a flat blade to split the air, like on the metal Humanatone. And we know this is not a performance solution. More, I really think that the bottom curves of the horn amp is a bad solution. At the "heel" (lower lip rest) place, they shape a front double chamber...
Finally, because of the air entrance design, half of the air blown leaks.

But as an historic item, the Grierson whistle is very interesting, particularly by it's design and shapes.

Here is a short sample in which you can notice the weakness, dullness and windiness of the sound.

And here a little stupid video, as usual:

PS: the template has been updated and is downloadable in PDF format.

And it's worth the (very alert) koala look!


On the same topic :

- Historic Nose Flutes - The Nasalette: Template
- Historic Nose Flutes - The Nasalette: Building
- Historic Nose Flutes - The Nasalette: Review
- Historic Nose Flutes - Couchois' Whistle: Template
- Historic Nose Flutes - Couchois' Whistle: Building
- Historic Nose Flutes - Couchois' Whistle: Review
- Historic Nose Flutes - Grierson's Whistle: Template
- Historic Nose Flutes - Grierson's Whistle: Building
- Historic Nose Flutes - Grierson's Whistle: Review



  1. This nose flute looks very neat and well-crafted, again! An instrument this size would be expected to have a full-bodied, dynamic and clear sound with a great range. Sadly, it doesn't have all of that... I must say the sound comes across a bit woody and even slightly reedy, which isn't bad for a wind instrument.

    Despite the disappointment in performance, this nose flute is still an amazing object with fabulous architectural properties! It must have taken quite some gutsy creativity to design and develop it. I love the look of it and I think this is yet another superb addition to the collection of historic replicas.

  2. Another great job recreating historic nose flutes.

    I waited for your review of this one to comment because I had mixed feelings about it since I saw the cardboard model.

    Lip rests to make it hands free and extended sides for amplification seem like a good but not well implemented idea. And the nose hood does not seem well designed.

    Maybe if a prototype had been built and tested, changes could have been made to create a functional hands free instrument.

    The elephant shape profile reminded me of Maikel's paintings.

    The Nosy Diva's comment made me think: You can make a cookie nose flute. Cut parts as in your aluminum nasalete. Join with sugar paste. Bake, play and eat. Save one for your collection (should last more than a potato flute... if you keep it away from Patafix).

    1. I am sure a cookie nose flute hasn't been done before!!! Yes, baking allows for piecing parts together! How then about a great cake for Nose Flute Day next year?

      Apart from the elephant shape profile, the design of this nose flute also reminds me of a super yacht and some sort of a "Back to the Future" vessel, particularly from the fifth (large) picture. It is very sculptural and futuristic indeed!

      I agree that this design probably hadn't been actually built and tested: surely several changes would have been made.

  3. Hello my friends,

    Well, I'm not sure a cookie is a good idea: it has to be baked and deforms. Even using different parts of a baked cookie, you can't have a thin labium...

    No, but I already thought of a chocolate nose flute!
    Difficult to do, anyway, but possible with low level exigeance.
    Assembling choco plates by gluing with hot chocolate should be possible.

    Thanks for your kind comments!

  4. The blowing hole should be a little at an angle and maybe a bit smaller to have a more powerful sound. In my study in patents of jew's harps I found that some patents represent a prototype and the final product is not the same (for instance the Dusie harp). Another example is the Weidlich & Lohse patent where the mentioned flexible nosesaddle never has been realized.
    Yes chocolate, that thought crossed my mind once.. Although I think it's short lived leaving a big chocolate stain in your face.

  5. Hello Harm!

    You are right, nobody knows if the nose flute was identical to the patent drawings, and even if this nose flute was ever produced!

    Anyway, it doesn't matter much. Even as a sterile patent, hte concept interests me. I don't care much that this nose flute does not work well (I do not intend to play it, as I do not play the Nasalette or any of my "historic collectors". They are too precious, and not necessarily the best instruments...

    All the best,


    1. Well, guys, I feel quite honored you picked up my hints for the eatable noseflute. If done in chocolate one would have to use a good one, at least 75%chocolate not to melt so quickly. What about eatable paper? (oblates...), should be similar to the cardboard models. Yet none of this is too promising because there would be a certain reluctance to eat a noseflute that has been played before, n'est-ce pas? Furthermore the production would take so much time that it would be a sin to eat the noseflute in such short time...