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 26, 2013

Getting serious about nose flute playing - Part II is very glad and lucky to welcome Miss Birdy K. as an essayist. This text of thoughts about nose flute playing is the second part of an article initiated here. Thanks to her!

Sequel of the post Getting serious about nose flute playing - Part I

Getting serious about nose flute playing - Part II
Playing the nose-flute hands-free with other instruments

One of the great advantages of the nose flute is that since you do not use your fingers for playing you can play another instrument when you have the nose flute firmly attached with a rubber band or another similar device.

Noseflute - harmony instrument

The most commonly used combination for the noseflute is with a ukulele or guitar.
There are lots of examples on youtube, the attentive reader of this wonderful blog gets links to many great and inspired videos (like by Nosefluter, Master Mosurin, etc.)
Besides adding harmonies and a nice sound to the melodies of the nose flute it also helps, especially in the beginning, to keep trace of the intonation. For any other harmony instrument it works rather similarly, the piano, the accordion, the harpsichord, organ...
When you do a simple accompaniment with chords it is the same thing like singing along with a guitar or ukulele – you just get started. I do not know what else to say about this, it works like most noseflute tasks, mainly by intuition.

Noseflute – melody instrument

However, the nose flute certainly can also be combined with melody instruments, like any string instruments (violin, viola, etc.) or uke, lute or guitar, as well as the piano or keyboard if you play melodies and not harmonies on them.
Since I am a violin and viola player I have spent some time with that and would like to share my experiences with you – personal and individual as usual, just what I have found out works best for my playing.

Playing two parallel melodies independently

Playing two melodies synchronous and independently is a rather special task and may not interest very many of our dear readers, but who knows how many fiddle (piano,whatever) playing nose flutists hang out on this planet??

To get started it is useful to be able to play both instruments fairly well. In fact, the secret of playing two independent melodies at once is to automatize the playing of one instrument.
For a start you can try to play the same melody with both instruments in unison (I do not say this is easy so do not be frustrated if you do not succeed well when beginning :o).
When playing independent melodies I generally start with the violin because there is orientation where to put the fingers and I keep on repeating the melody until not having to think about it any more. If capable of reading music it can be easier to put sheet music and just play until you do not have to think any more.
For playing a canon, it is a bit hard to explain but I think I listen to myself playing the melody and then I imitate it with the noseflute. It requires some mental discipline but surely is a good kind of brainjogging! I practised this already with a canon singing and playing violin before knowing the noseflute, it is the same principle.

In the following video you get a little practical demonstration.

It is probably a bit easier when you play the piano or a keyboard because you do not have to worry about your intonation there.
Then – even if you succeed playing the melodies together the result might not to be as good as two people playing together, so it is more a kind of training your musical abilities and something to impress people :o))
Since we noseflute players are used to being limited in looking good and sounding great who cares?

In the end to show you what is possible with some training (yes, it took a while) we have a recording of the beginning of the 1st movement of the Bach double concerto for two violins. I did this a while ago to practice my independent playing. It is a synchronous recording.

Well, dearest reader, I hope not to have bored you too much with this rather specific task, thanks for your patience!

The incomparable Nosy Diva


  1. I had been wondering a while when the sequel to the first part would be posted! I like your effort in writing the article and playing both pieces! I love the sound of the Bocarina when it mimics that of a recorder!!!

    Simultaneous play is a great thing to be able to do, particularly when you play solo. Training indeed allows for the most amazing results: for instance, the nose flute, voice, piano, guitar and bassdrum can all be deployed by one person at once! I absolutely agree that simultaneous play can be very helpful in training your ear and musical ability. It can also be used on stage to create a sense of awe.

    But, do we want to be a one-man-band? Do we want to be on TV or YouTube as part of a freakshow? I must say I would prefer a specialised duo, trio or quartet, especially as the nose flute is hard enough on its own. To me, it only makes sense and really matters to create a professional sound on the nose flute.

    I also feel there isn't much of an advantage in playing a handsfree nose flute, apart from being able to move and dance freely. I have always found that I could do very little to the sound of the nose flute without using my hands. There are also other possibilities to create accompaniment or interaction on stage, for instance by using a tape or loop machines, radios and effect pedals...

    1. Thanks for your always interesting remarks, dear Maikel, and sorry for not responding earlier, I was travelling. I think I understand your thoughts questioning the necessity of simulataneous playing. In musical respect it is not too interesting because what makes music special and touching is mainly the dialogue,the musical communication. The "freak-show-effect" is not really a goal of mine. I like looking at different aspects of our favorite instruments. I do not care much when people are impressed by simultaneous playing like the canon or other things because it is just a matter of training and more a kind of funny challenge and, really "brain-jogging".
      I understand your wish for nose flute "chamber music". Believe me, if I knew nose flute players interested in ensemble work I would love to work in that direction. As a professional musician I know how hard it is to find people for playing music together, it is a very delicate task. If you take into account the very little number of "interesting and interested" nose flute players you will surely agree that you cannot just start a project with a nose flute ensemble. Of course there is not substitute for the musical communication, for the musical energy created by several people.
      The article was aiming at one specific task about nose flute playing and I just wanted to share my experiences for the people interested in this kind of work. I hope one day I can present a little nose flute chamber orchestra...As for using loop machines, etc., I appreciate works in that direction but it is just not my cup of tea, I prefer acoustic instruments.

  2. Well, for one I would be very interested in performing acoustic chamber music (although I am equally into electrically and electronically enhanced music). There is absolutely nothing like instant musical interaction, soundwise and between players.

    I think sending recorded parts through to be mixed could be an idea to leave out physically coming together as musicians, though. I am keen on seeing and hearing proper recordings and this may be a start.

    Regarding acoustic ensembles, I know for a fact how good the nose flute sounds combined with the lute, with a violin and a clarinet, as well as with an accordion and a tenor saxophone. I would imagine the combination of a viola and a bassoon or an oboe also sounds magical.

    I am looking forward to any suggestions as well as your next topic!

    1. Merci beaucoup! This may take a while, though...