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.

Apr 7, 2012

Video : A Finnish musician

Just a video for Easter! And with a hidden (behind a mask) nose flute... Mikko Koski is a Finnish musician (guitar and accordion) and singer. Here, he plays with the band Riff Raff.

Apr 6, 2012

The Slow Agony of the Kartofflöte

We were asked by some nosy person to show our potato nose flute after some days. Here is the answer, in between a Jivaro shrunken head and a necrophile sextoy.
(No need to say it plays not so well now...)

Nose flute in Lyon, France

Excerpt of a Lyon local TV program ("Complètement.Berges" - Ep. VII - TLM channel) in which a young french man - Cyprien le siffleur - presents the nose flute and plays Going Up The Country by Canned Heat.

Apr 5, 2012

The SlappyFeatherWhistle Nose Flute Ensemble

In the nose flute world, most of the musicians play alone, being or not accompanied by another instrument, a guitar, like Sensei Mosurin, a violin or accordion, like the Nosy Diva, a ukulele like Will Grove-White or more exotic instruments, like a sanshin for Wataru Kousaka. Sometimes, two or three friends risk a video together, blowing the nasal whistle, but experiments of large orchesters have been rarely seen. The defunct Swedish Nose Flute Orchestra was an example born as a marketing stroke for a pharmaceutical product, and Das Original Oberkreuzberger Nasenflötenorchester is another one, on the punk side of the flute.

But was there a "professional" nose flute band with a real artistic involment? Yes! The SlappyFeatherWhistle Nose Flute Ensemble ! And better : it still exists!

The Slappy Feather Whistle is a band mixing music (many nose flutes plus piano, cello,...) and choreography in beautiful shows. For more than a dozen of years, they have been performing in many shows (« too many to count ») in many places, mostly in Canada where they are based, have done lots of TV and radio appearances, and produced consulting and teaching for people all around the world. The Ensemble was founded by Gia Anne-Marie Felicitas, now known as Billy Kidd as a professional magician.

Emma Hooper (member of the band) wrote in 2002 : « Felicitas, a fast-talking eccentric with electric hair, founded her nasally driven ensemble four years ago “because no other instrument made [her] as passionate about music.” At first, the group was mostly made up of Felicitas’ younger sisters, who she “made join”. Their first gig was in a “boiling hot tent at a children’s festival, with an audience of about ten, all under the age of ten”. Their second gig was an infomercial for toilet paper. Humble beginnings for a humble instrument. »

Gia Anne-Marie Felicitas started her Nose-Flute training with Maestro John Ullyatt when she was 15 years old and studied the nose flute history and legends with the ethnomusicologist Randy Raine Reusch. Let's say that Gia regards our noble instrument with seriousness and respect.

« People think of the nose flute as a big joke. It's a pretty unusual instrument, people laugh, but what they don't understand is the whole history behind it, so when we got a whole group together, people start to take it more seriously ».

Emma Hooper : « Despite lowly beginnings, Felicitas’ noseflute-preservation message has begun to spread, and with it, the popularity of her group. The ensemble soon expanded to eight full time members and several part-timers. (And that’s not counting the pianist, cellist, saxophonist or rainstick-player they cart around with them.) They have appeared on several high-profile television spots, recorded professionally, and preformed in some of Canada’s leading concert halls. So why the sudden appreciation of a long-dormant musical form? »

Gia Anne-Marie Felicitas : « What we do is simple. We begin with an introduction to the instrument. A speech which I give, while the group does choreographed tableaux in the background. Then we pass Kleenex around the audience, in case anyone gets sprayed. Then we play…. The audience is generally struck stupid. They can’t believe such beautiful, moving music is coming out of our noses. There’s almost always a gasp or two. That is why I love my job. I believe that no instrument capable of such beauty should be ignored by the musical world. My goal is to pursue this cause until the Noseflute is accepted into the pantheon of noble musical instruments. And I hope to educate as well as enrich the lives of people musically at the same time. »



Gia Anne-Marie Felicitas kindly accepted to answer our questions, and here is a short interview :

- When did you begin to play the nose flute, and how/why did you come to that instrument ?

- I was introduced to the nose-flute when I was 15 years old by an Edmonton Actor named John Ullyatt. I was acting in a production of The King & I at the Citadel Theatre, John showed me the nose-flute and I thought it was one of the strangest coolest instruments I have ever seen. I instantly took it up and started practicing every day.

- When did you decide to create the SWF Nose Flute Ensemble? And when/how did it start ?

- Every Halloween I come up with a very interactive costume so that I can generate more candy from my neighborhood. One year I went out as Reusable Toilet Paper. I wrote a theme song and gave out samples as I trick or treated. The response from my neighborhood was amazing! So I thought I would actually invent Reusable Toilet Paper and make millions of dollars. So I wrote a commercial, gathered my friends and we filmed a video advertising Reusable Toilet Paper. In this video I had trained my friends to play the nose-flute so that they can play the Toilet Paper theme song.
We had a big screening and when the Q & A started the audience was only interested in the Nose-Flute and not really the Toilet paper. This sparked my first idea of creating the Slappyfeatherwhistle Nose-Flute Ensemble.

So I did tons of research on the nose-flute. I travelled to Vancouver and met up with Ethnomusicologist Randy Raine Reusch and he educated me immensely regarding this instrument. I got to play real bamboo noseflutes that Randy had collected in his travels. I was inspired by the history of this flute and the fact that it was regarded as a novelty. After my research I gathered up who I could, and we started rehearsing once a week for 2 hours. Within a few weeks time word had spread and we were invited to play at the Winspear Centre Music hall in Edmonton. This was a very big deal. And ever since then the gigs started rolling in. We got a lot of attention from across the globe with our choice of music and choreography.

- How was it "received" by the public ?

- The public loved us. Although I dont think they knew how to handle us. We made sure that in our performances we never smiled or laughed. If we did the audience would think we were not serious. I guess by this style of performance people thought it was hilarious. But we never broke a smile... Ever! We got invitations to perform for David Letterman, Jimmy Kimmel, Jay Leno, and Canadian Mike Bullard.

Here is a CBC Radio broadcast with Eva Marie Clarke :

- What was your repertoire ?

- For some reason Jewish folk songs sounded really good on the nose-flute. So we played lots of folk and classical. From Mozart's Symphony # 40 to Beethoven, to James bond theme songs.

Here are 3 (thank you Gia!) delightful recordings by the SlappyFeatherWhistle Ensemble :

The Symphony #40 by Mozart :

Round The Dreidel Spins (Hannukah song) :

Tutti :

- Were the "roles" distributed in some way or all the musicians were used to equally play the same music line?

- The roles were distributed. Everyone I auditioned. Playing the noseflute has a lot in common with one's singing voice. Just like a choir I would place people in their appropriate position. Soprano or Alto. Group 1 or Group 2. Sometimes we would have a 3rd sections as well depending on the music.

- How did the "staff" evolved ? (I think I understood you were from 8 to 13...)

- We started young. I think the first ensemble was age 8-19. Over the years I think we have had roughly 20-30 ensemble members, maybe more all under the age of 30.

- How many shows did you perform? Were they only in Canada or were you invited abroad ?

- We did a lot of shows every year. Too many to count. Most of them were in Canada as we were based there and its difficult to travel with so many members. Also I was in theatre school at the time so juggling schedules was tricky as well. We did lots of television appearances and radio. Also consulting and teaching others from as far as Japan to Africa, USA and the UK.

- When and why did the SWF stop ?

- We haven't really stopped but we just take random gigs now. Mostly due to the fact that I also work professionally as a magician and I'm not in a single place for more than a month.

- Do you have some histories/anecdotes to tell us about the SWF or about nose flutes ?

- Nose flutes are not an instrument to be scoffed at. They are a traditional instrument that was mostly played in S.E. Asia and Hawaii. People played them for many different reasons. Sometimes they played the noseflute to gently wake up their kings. Sometimes it was to help make the rice grow. And other times they did it to court the one they loved.

Thank you a lot, Felicitas, and please keep the SFWNFE alive!!!



The SlappyFeatherWhistle official webpage

The SlappyFeatherWhistle official blog

The SlappyFeatherWhistle official MySpace page

Billy Kidd official webpage

Billy Kidd's Youtube channel

Billy Kidd on Facebook


And last but not least, 2 videos (no less!) : the first is a presentation of the SlappyFeatherWhistle, and the second is a cut of « Rare raw footage of behind the scenes when the Slappyfeatherwhistle Nose-Flute Ensemble flew to Toronto » :

Apr 4, 2012

Charles Fasano's original paintings

Just a word about Charles Fasano, musician and artist, who was showing his nose flute paintings in an exhibition in Denver (CO) [see our previous post on the topic]. Charly wrote me that « People around Denver have enjoyed the whole nose flute thing » and sent me 2 originals of his Humanatone paintings (wow!!)

Charly sent me also his book of linocuts published in limited edition, and I do not resist to the pleasure to show you this beautiful portrait of William Burroughs.


- Visit Charles Fasano's website

- Charly's facebook page

- Listen, download and buy Charles' poems and music at Fast Geek Press

- Watch videos by The City Mouse on Youtube

- Buy Next Analog Broadcast (poetry) by Charles Fasano at Sunnyoutside


Der Grindchor new CD : Blasphemia

We already posted several months ago about Das Original Oberkreuzberger Nasenflötenorchester, aka the Grindchor. They are a band of punk artists, mostly Germans from Berlin, and play nose flute over international hits. They have a very specific sound, like a bevy of crazy parakeets having taken amphetamines. Absolutely nothing to compare with Sensei Mosurin, for sure...

For their 20 years of existence, they made a a new CD, "Blasphemia", which compiles their greatests successes, like Ace of Spades, by Motörhead, which is named Ed am bäsen on the CD. All the original titles have been rebaptized. So, Poupée de cire, poupée de son, by Serge Gainsbourg was renamed Toupet to go, Reality (vlad. Cosma) is Dräumschen in echt, Helter Skelter is Alter Spalter, You don't have to say you love me (Dusty Springfield) became Fresse Dursty, and so on.

The CD contains 10 nice recordings, full of fun and energy, with a correct sound, which often lacks on the Youtube videos...

« Das 20-Jährige steht kurz bevor und "Blasphemia" bietet einen Vorgeschmack aufs Jubiläumsjahr: der Grindchor rockt auf der neuen Platte in die nächste Dimension, bis dann bei komplexer Mehrstimmigkeit gekuschelt werden darf. »

The CD (ornated by a magnificent mirror ball Nasenflöte) can be purchased for 10 euros at Rumpsti-Pumsti

You can check many of the titles on Youtube, and some fresh videos have been made to celebrate the 20th birthday of the Grindchor, such this one of Ace of Spades... oops! sorry... Ed am bäsen !


Das Original Oberkreuzberger Nasenflötenorchester will give 20-year Jubilee concerts :

04/14 : Sanderstüb'l Neukölln

04/28 : Monarch Kottbusser Tor


Der Grindchor official website

Der Grindchor on MySpace

Apr 3, 2012

What about the Dan Moi ?

Dan Moi is a German wind and percussion instruments worldwide distributor. They sell a wooden nose flute probably made in Vietnam, that is available in 2 sizes : adult and child.

In fact, the shape is exactly the one of the Vietnamese nose flutes findable on Ebay, but there is one big difference... They are much much well finished that the Ebay ones (not perfect at all though). They are very well sanded, more regular (symmetric!) and some details get the benefit of a better finish.
The labium is not perfect, but is cleaner that what can be found on Ebay wooden flutes.

Thus, the sound - wooden type, obviously - is cleaner and with a nice range and power. Nothing comparable with a high-end wooden nose flute, like a Handler or a Zycha, but really a better choice (for the same price and the same shape) than the Ebay ones.

Still the problem, though, of the position of the air entrance, really not appropriate for many western noses with hard cartilage at the bottom. I'm personally forced to put the hole under one of my nostrils only to avoid air leaks, and get an asymmetric position (not fitted to hand free playing).

Here is a (crappily played) sound sample :

Apr 2, 2012

Sarod and Nose Flute !

Wataru Kousaka is a Japanese multi-instrumentist who notably plays the sanshin (Okinawa samishen), but also sarod, flutes, jaws harp, and nose flute. He already has produced several CDs, and the following tune comes from his last record called てぃんさぐぬ鼻 (which is Google-translated by "Tin Unexpected Nose Sag"...).

In this video, Wataru Kousaka uses a loop machine with a sarod bassline, then two nose flute harmonic melodies, and finally plays the sarod with a bow. The result is a beautiful lament.


You may also like to listen some music by Wataru Kousaka. On this page, you can listen to 9 sound samples, including some tunes with nose flute.
But I particularly recommend to you "Futahana" (a beautiful piece played on a sanshin), "The Wind" (with several coats of jaws harp) or the beautiful "Country roads".

Visit Wataru Kousaka's website

Visit Wataru Kousaka's Youtube channel

Apr 1, 2012

Beautiful drawings by Maikel Mei

Maikel Mei is an inexhaustible source of marvels for the blog... After he shared with us pictures of his silver nose flute and of his bondage installation with an improved plastic instrument, he just sent us a series of beautiful drawings he made almost twenty years ago.

What makes them beautiful is the free and quick hand who drew them, trying (and succeeding) to catch the basic structure of our "beloved instrument", with the clean lines of a simple pen.

« My aim is to capture the essence, calligraphy-like: 1 take and that's it. ».

Just click on the images to enlarge :

Maikel Mei drew also several complex compositions, involving many nose flutes, more or less intricated, with a climax reached in « Voodoo Child » (made in 1993 too), an hypnotic ink drawing with psychedelic patterns. Wah!

« The ink drawing was inspired by and made in 1 go while listening to Jimi Hendrix's version of Voodoo Child at the Los Angeles Forum in 1969. »


On the same topic :

- Beautiful drawings by Maikel Mei
- Nose flute paintings by Maikel Mei
- Maikel Mei's new paintings
- Bocarina painting by Maikel Mei

- Mei's History of Art - Series 1: Rock Cave Art