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.

Feb 10, 2013

20 Frobies on stage!

Here is a great (but quite stupid) french TV video archive: 20 Frobies on stage!

On Dec. 6, 1987, as every Sundays, was broadcast the program Le Monde est à Vous ("The World is Yours"), presented by Jacques Martin, the same emcee that had already introduced Mr. Bourdin and is Narinophone/Ocariflute 5 years earlier, in 1982.

This time, Mr. Martin welcomed Les Petits Ecoliers Chantant de Bondy (The Little Singing Pupils of Bondy), a children chorale founded in 1945. Any of these 18 children had a Froby around the neck. With the nose flute of their leader "Moulinot" and the one offered to the presenter... that was a total of 20 Frobies!

No doubt on that, they were Frobies, and you can recognize them by the two long "wings" spread on each side of the nose.

Here is a transcription of what was said, because it gives some information:

— And now, an unusual show! A weird instrument, a new instrument is born, Sound the pipes, Let the trumpets play, and this instrument, as you gonna see, is played with the nose! Yes, it's one of the rare instruments, it's even the only one as far as I know, which is played with the nose. And to illustrate this instrument, the baptism of this instrument, we're going to listen to Moulinot and eighteen children of the Bondy's chorale, who will interpretate, obviously, Siffle-nez [Whistle-nose]. Please, children of Bondy, the stage is yours!

I won't transpose the whole song, but it's called Sifflenez, and was apparently especially written to launch Froby, which is also called Siffle-Nez in this show. All the lyrics deal about the different noses around the world, the magic whistle, the hapiness whistle, and exhort the people of the world to become "siffle-nez".


Quelle que soit la couleur de votre nez, nez-skimo, nez-cossais,
Mon sifflet magique vous fera danser, siffler, siffler

Tous les nez du monde pourront se parler, nez-grillon, nez-palais,
Même les nouveaux nez sauront faire siffler leur p'tit bout d'nez
Du pôle Nord à l'Equateur
C'est le sifflet du bonheur


Et si tous les enfants du monde entier devenaient siffle-nez
Ça f'rait rigoler l'univers entier, quel pied de nez,
Du pôle Nord à l'Equateur
C'est le sifflet du bonheur

— Thank you. As a world premiere, the Children of Bondy just presented this weird instrument to you, which is called the ..
— The Siffle-Nez
— The Siffle-Nez! So, is it really possible to play it?
— It's a good question
— Give me a note... to check...

[The presenter plays the Froby]

— Done! Have fun with that, children, it won't hurt and it's less hazardous that smoking cigarettes! Let's applaud loudly the Children of Bondy, Thank you sir!

[Then, the presenter sends his froby to another guest, while saying "for your little daughter, not for the daddy"]

Here is the footage:

Apparently, a 45rpm was issued (with or without the Children chorale??).

Now, there are several interesting facts to point out here. First, all the Frobies are fluo green, and I suppose that if there had been different colors available, in such a motley group, they would have chosen to spread the whole range.

Then, this video is dating of Dec. 1987, and it seems to be the "official" launching of Froby (Mr. Martin speaks about "world premiere", "baptism", ...). This could be an help in chronology. Let's draw it in 2 points:

1987-12-06: Froby's launched on french TV
1988-03-07: the Papeleria Informal files its patent for... Flapi!

Was the Flapi born *after* the Froby, contrariwise to what I thought? Or is it just due to a long delay to "build" the patent (with lawyers, and so...). Whatever the answer is, it is now ascertained that both Flapi and Froby were launched in a very short lap of time. Flapi might have been a first version immediately followed by an "international" one, Froby.


For sure, I have contacted the Les Petits Ecoliers Chantant de Bondy to ask them if they still had some Siffle-Nez in their drawers, or even if some ex-singing-children (they should 31-33 years old, now) had kept the Froby, would sell it... I got a gentle answer by the current curator, but for now, no other news.

I also think I have found again "Moulinot". After some meticulous researches, I believe he is the french comedian-musician-director Philippe Cotten, also called "Phillipe Cotten dit Moulinot". I'm currently trying to get in contact with him.


As condescendant and over-playing he was, Jacques Martin has been (AFAIK) the only french TV presenter to introduce nose flutes on the screen. He did twice, in 1982 and here in 1987.
For this reason, I would like to propose him to the Nose Flute Hall of Fame, as simple member in the Promoters section. Please, give your opinion in the comments section.


  1. Hall of fame! Such intelligent entertainment deserves to be honored! (and what beautiful costumes and great playback....).
    Très rigolo!!

  2. It seems to me that the presenter had forgotten about the other nose flute on the show 5 years earlier. I dislike the misinformation given about "a new instrument". I do understand that this show was all about entertainment and that in-depth to any extent is out of the question...

    Clearly the Ocariflute plays according to exactly the same principle. The presenter is obviously well aware of that, since he seems to be able to produce not only a great tone but a fine tune as well.

    The presenter probably was genuinely interested in the instrument and promoting it, given the fact that he launched it on more than one occasion and was able to actually play it to a fair extent, so Hall of Fame: yes. I assume he is no longer among us?

    I tend to call this colour of the Froby neon-yellow or fluo-yellow, certainly not green. Piet Visser stated that he had seen them in this colour as well as in fluorescent green, orange and pink. I think they simply had a batch of the same colour here to look the same. The variety in colours could also have come later.

    It's very interesting to see the timeline here: I am convinced that Flapi was first and Froby came a little later, to make the instrument stand out a little more. These instruments should be around somewhere indeed...

    1. Well, the presenter faked to have forgotten... if he had remembered it, he would have been obliged to show the 1982 sequence to the audience...

      Yes, Jacques Martin died in 2007.

      About the colour, I won't fight with you. I see it green, you see it yellow... everybody's right. There is no real "truth" about colours. It's very cultural and also a bit physiological. So...

      I also feel that Flapi was first (typo, points of injection, etc.

  3. I think this show is worth induction to the Hall of Fame as promoter.

    Only about five minutes, but a good show. I like that he says an instrument, not a toy. The froby is clearly seen and shown to be able to play a melody.

    Hehe, I also like the Mexican sombrero, even if worn backwards.

    1. Hahahaha the sombrero is reverse-side...!

    2. Yes, the sombrero worn backwards sums it all up...!!

      Jacques Martin probably was very much into the nose flute, as he played it rather well himself, showed it twice on his show, heralded it and called it an instrument, which is a very good thing indeed.

  4. Yes I'm in favour of Jacques Martin in the hall of fame