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 21, 2012

A little Handler review by ShowNoseFlute

Sho Hirasawa emailed me this little review about the flute by Heinrich Handler I sent to him. Here it is, as is, and accompanied by the video-test he made with it.
(To answer his question about the « nice aroma » : I had put some protective lemon oil on the instrument)

I feel it to Handler's is made for high tone.
I don't have one can play high tone easy, ever.
And, Its high tone has power, It is nice too.

I don't got used to this type nose flutes, short time.
I train playing this type nose flute.
Lated upload, because it.
Its high tone tuning like +8ver for vietnamese one.
I surprised this point !
And, it can play long high tone easy.
It is very very comfortable!
I like Handler's nose flute.
It has character of different from others.

I think it to this nose flute lend handsfree.
I got a technique of playing Handler's, when I notice it.
I chalenge handsfree in this video:-)

I smell sweet nice aroma from it.
Can you tell me, what smell from.
and, bag has pattern of notes is nice too!
I put japanese amulet on this bag;-)

I enjoy it to discovering Handler's nose flute world now!
Thank you for send it to me!

Thanks a lot !!

Show Hirasawa

Picture is Handler's nose flute and bag with japanese amulet :-)

A Humanatone and clones chronology

In order to clarify my previous post, I attempted to depict a chronology of the Humanatone and its clones : old and modern shapes, that is, metal and plastic. The zones in plain color are "sure", and the ones filled with gradations represent uncertain dates.


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


The Magic (Nose) Flute: only questions...

At the bottom of page 10 of 1903 A.O. & E.C Howe's musical instruments catalog, there is an insert for a « Magic Flute ». It's a metallic nose flute, nickel plated.

Some facts...

Fact 1
In his 1904 trade-mark documents, James J. Stivers wrote about the brand "Humanatone" : « This trade-mark has been continuously used in my business since July 6th, 1903 ». Let's say at the same time than the Magic Flute.

Fact 2 I've never seen (weak fact) any other ad for a « Magic Flute »

Fact 3 It exists a metal nose flute stamped « Magic Flute », dating from these times, and wearing 2 numbers, one for Australia and one for New Zealand. I reached the Australian patent office, and they confirmed those numbers refer to trade-marks registration numbers and not patents numbers. They are "N°40634 AUST" and "N°22231 N.Z". I found no traces (documents) for their registration.

Fact 4 The "Magic Flute" has the **exact** same shape than the first Humanatone (the one with the rounded top [see this post]), including the folded flaps and rivets, and the rounded rectangle air entrance.

Fact 5 There was a "Magic Nose Flute". I don't know when it began to be sold, but I found many ads for it from 1928 to 1950.

Fact 6 In the 1928 Johnson Smith Novelty Catalog, there is an advertisement which shows a drawing which is a part of the drawing displayed on a Humanatone user manual (see this post). Here are they :

Fact 7 In the Nov. 1928 issue of Popular Mechanics, an advertismement for the Magic Nose Flute explicitly says : « The Magic Nose Flute, or Humanatone...». (same inserts in the Oct. 1929 and Nov. 1930 issues)

Fact 8 In the very first issue (#1, Summer 1939) of the Superman comics, there are two advertisement inserts for a nose flute : The first one refers to the "Magic Nose Flute", and the second one to the "Humanatone" (for real with a mistake, since it is printed « Humatone » at the very end of the text).

Fact 9 (at least) the 1940, 1944, 1947 and 1950 issues of Johnson Smith Novelty Catalog displayed the same insert, with minor differences between 1940 and 1944 : the price evolved from 10¢ to 15¢, a text was added besides the boy's head (« You can play it if you can talk »), and the little insert text below was changed from « Play Marches, "hot tunes",... » to « Play "hot tunes", swing music,... ».
There is also a change at the end of the description : the following passage was suppressed : « Most anyone can play it and the performer with the true "gift of music" will feel it, with very little practice, one of the most easily controlled music producers it is possible to imagine. »

Anyway, from (at least) 1940 to 1950, there are no mentions of the brand Humanatone (which was officialy bought by the Fred Gretsch Mfg. Co on Jul. 19, 1947, to brand the modern plastic version which appeared on the market between Jan. 1940 and Autumn 1943 [see this post].

Here are the 1940, 1944, 1947 and 1950 inserts :


Now is the time for questions ...

Question 1
Was the "Magic Flute" a separate product or was it the very first version of the Humanatone, before the brand Humanatone was registered ? It is a real possibility, since the Magic Flute is the exact clone of the first Humanatone, and that since the brand Humanatone was « continuously used in [stivers'] business since july 6th 1903 », it seems difficult to be used in a catalog of this very year (catalogs were generally printed at the end of the previous year, or at least at the beginning of the current year).

Question 2 Is the Magic Flute showed on the pictures above the "same" Magic Flute ? And in this case why was it stamped by Australian and New Zealand registration number ? Was it a Humanatone forgery ? (difficult to imagine, since it has the very shape, including little details...). Was it a specially branded Humanatone for AU and NZ by James J. Stivers ? Why a specific brand ? Or by someone else ? Who ? Or was it a different "Magic Flute" than the one advertised on Howe catalog ?

Question 3 It appears obvious that the "Magic Nose Flute" and the "Humanatone" were the same products. Were they both produced by the James J. Stivers company ? If so, why ? Were there a brand (Humanatone) dedicated to "serious" music shops and one (Magic Nose Flute) for novelties and toys catalogs ? Or did another manufacture buy the patent to Stivers for a parallel production (this would sound strange that Stivers had accepted, because both products were direct competitors, at least between 1928 and the 1940s).
Who continued to produce the metallic Humanatones under the brand Magic Nose Flute after that Fred Gretsch bought the Humanatone brand ? Was that the Stivers company, which already had the machines and know-how ?

Question 4 Is there a link between the "Magic Flute" and the "Magic Nose Flute"? In this case, the link between "Magic Flute" and "Humanatone" would be traced (see question 1)

Question 5 What year the "Magic Nose Flute" stopped to be produced/sold ?

If any of the readers of this blog has answers, or posess musical instruments catalogs, or Johnson Smith catalogs, notably prior to 1928 or later than 1950... Or any material (magazines, photos, showing the Magic (Nose) Flute... Please please please, help me!

>> See the following topic : A Humanatone and clones chronology


Apr 20, 2012

Just for the fun : a nice quatuor !

A funny video performed by the Floutum Snoutum ensemble, four boys and three « Floutettes ». You can also watch them in a (as... theatrical) version of Somewhere over the Rainbow here.

Apr 19, 2012

Janne Bengtsson and his kilt

Janne Bengtsson is a swedish comedian and musician. He is member of the band Lars Vegas Trio in which he hold the drums, sings and dances, but also, sometimes, plays the nose flute.
There are numerous videos on YouTube showing him, wearing a kilt with the band or in a formal suit during a stand up performance, interpretating what looks to be his greatest hit : El Condor Pasa. In this show, he hardly whistles the peruvian song, but plays with the nose flute ability to make funny noises when speaking.

Here are our 2 selections (chosen for the image quality), but you can check other versions here, here, here, here, and here!

Apr 18, 2012

Ukulele and... nose flute

If you are in Germany at the very end of this month, don't miss Ukoliv! Ukoliv! is an international ukulele festival that will stand in Mannheim on 30th of April, at the Theater Oliv.
Four bands are programmed : the great german ukulele ensemble Das Resopal Seminar, organizer of the festival, L'Uke, the cool americano-german duo, the gorgeous dancers of Zaghareet (NL/DE), and Feed The Diva! (FR/DE) with ... the incomparable Nosy Diva herself (nose flute guaranteed :)

Apr 17, 2012

Review : A nose flute by the Ise Association

The Japanese Ise Nose Flute Friends Association (Nihon Hanabue Kyokai Ise Tomo no Kai) is a very active organization. It was founded in December 2009 and gathers many members. Lead by their President, Mrs Emiko Sato (who is a writer and notably has created a blog dedicated to hanabue), they have playing sessions, but also travel to meet the other Japanese associations and organize ceremonies with guests.

The Ise association vice-president, Mr. Takuma Ikeyama (池山 琢馬) is a carpenter, but also crafts the wooden nose flutes branded and sold by the association.

Thanks to my good friend Sho Hirasawa (ShowNoseFlute on YouTube) who sent one to me, I was able to put the nose on a Fuu nose flute (Fuu, « wind and rain », is the brand of the Ise association nose flute workshop). Let's just say : Yeehah! and thanks a lot to Sho!

First of all : this flute is absolutely beautiful. It's been made in persimmon wood, with raw bark kept on the edges, and with a two-colored piece of wood on the front of the air duct. It has a very original design, very Japanese. It has a comfortable size (5 x 7 cm).

The second thing I noticed is that the Fuu hanabue smells very good. It has been gently oiled for protection, and the mix of wood and oil aromas is very pleasant.

The craftmanship is at a high standard, with clean edges and assembling, the finishing has been done with care, sweetly sanded, and a waxed lace has been added for handfree playing, with a simple yet efficient pair of sliding knots.

What is amazing on the Ise association hanabue, is the thinness of the air duct : it is less than 1 mm thick and faces a very sharp rounded labium, with a 5 mm gap at its farest. This provides a very powerful and precise loud sound.

The backside is of « vietnamese » type, with a half-pipe nose rest bored with a round hole. Generally, this arrangement does not fit well the western noses, oftenly ended with cartilage. But on the Fuu nose flute, the half-piped nost rest has been slanted and the problem is nonexistent (with my nose at least). The fact is this flute is very comfortable and very ergonomically designed regarding my physiognomy.
The internal side feature the round seal of the association, stamped with a hot iron.

The Fuu nose flute comes along with two papers, one teaching the way to play nose flute in general, and the second about the Ise habanbue in particular, how to take care of it, etc. Thanks a lot to Sho Hirasawa for having taken the time to translate them for us :

On the sound side, I was really amazed. I generally say that a flute can be a good instrument for one player and not for another one, depending on the ergonomy, the size and so... And I think it is true. But in this case, there are also objective points : the way the technical parts are made and designed. The air duct / labium system is really efficient. Then the ergonomics and sizes fit very well my face. This flute is without no doubt my best wooden nose flute, or should I say, the one that fits me at best.

The sound is loud and very precise, and the flute is able to reach from high sharps to low bass, both clear and clean on more or less 3 octaves, depending on your buccal abilities. The Fuu flute offers a very quick answer to solicitations, thanks to the powerful air flow system, allowing very quick playing, and the precision enables easy modulation (vibratos) with the tongue.

Here is a sound sample I made (just added a pinch of reverb) :


Links :

>> To Japanese Ise Nose Flute Friends Association website
>> To "Emiko Sato's hanabue blog


And as a bonus, look at the beautifully designed postacard that Sho sent to me, and the nice little drawing on the back of the envelope... Thank you Sho!

Apr 16, 2012

Nose flute as a healing tool

Our beloved little instrument is perfect to play music; it is light and handy, and easy to begin with. It can be used by children as a funny toy, as by masters like Mosurin. It can be useful, as used by the Guaranis to call birds.
But is that really all? All around the world, there are people to laud the nose flute therapeutic abilities. Let's have a quick tour...

« Sing together, touch the instrument, move the body »... this could be the motto of Mr. Guan Wei Chen (管 偉辰 / かんいたつ), CEO of LyriMusica (株式会社リリムジカ), a Japanese company founded by Mrs. Moe Shibata in 2008 which provides care and assistance to old and dement people. It is specialized in music therapy, notably with the help of ocarinas and nose flutes, but also with many other instruments. Its staff has implemented more than 600 music therapy sessions since March 2009.
(Note that LyriMusica is recruiting a partner music therapist)

>> LyriMusica website

In the same kind of nose flute activities, and besides her professional viola playing with orchesters, musicians or choirs, Birdy K., well known on YouTube as « The Nosy Diva », works in Germany as a free lance musician in senior citizen's and nursing homes, providing music cares.

« In my musical work with old, often demented people, I use the noseflute quite regularly, with good success. Laughing, amazement, just the typical reactions you always get with that funny instrument. Some people are irritated and do not like it, but that is rather normal. Concerning noseflute playing  with handicapped people - I do not have very much experience with that yet. I worked with a paraphlegic lady who enjoyed playing very much and would not have been able to play any other instrument since her hands are too weak.
I will soon be doing a a noseflute workshop at an integrative sports event with handicapped kids, I am looking forward to that.

Here is a recording from a little private workshop given by the Nosy Diva at the home of one participant. The boy had just learned to play the noseflute some minutes ago and the recordings were done quite spontaneously :

In the USA, the nose flute is oftenly used as a tool for improving children's breath or speech abilities.

TalkTools is a company specialized in « oral placement therapy for speech clarity and feeding ». In its product catalog, which includes Humanatones, you can read :

At Hilton Central School District, Mrs Simpson practices oral speech therapy :

« The nose flute is used to establish and increase volitional airflow through the nasal passages. This horn helps the child practice nasal exhalation to reduce mouth breathing. »


On a psychological side, the nose flute is also used as a tool. In Canada, David Gouthro, a consultant in management, implements nose flutes as a life metaphor, and a self-development instrument [see this post]

The famous YouTube Dutch nose flutist Job The Pas is a pedopsychologist. His company, PSYCHOS, is specialized in helping the children « who are experiencing social conduct problems at school and at home, often related to handicaps (weak intelligence, dyslexia, mental disturbances), peer problems, immigration problems and/or traumas. »

Mr. Job Te Pas uses the nose flute as a communication tool, visiting his clients at home.

« When I hear at his way of talking, talking in high & low tones, I try always his level of singing. When he can sing a simple song good in tone, I try to teach him some tones on the noseflute. When he shows one tone he gets the flute. »

Still not convinced ?

Apr 15, 2012

Piano and nose flute

Yoko Yang (ヨコ★YANG), aka JodelYokoYang on YouTube, is a member of the a capella band The Zircons. He also plays solo, as we can see in this video, on the piano and the nose flute. Don't miss the beginning this other video with a cry from the heart at 0'21" (but the top of the cries of the heart was produced by Hanabue 114, and you can hear it here).