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 1, 2013

Yet another TV archive!

Here is another french TV archive, dating of April 1982. It is an excerpt of a popular Sunday program (Incroyable Mais Vrai, a spin-off of the original That's Incredible).

In this footage, the presenter Jacques Martin welcomes a nose flute player, Mr. Bourdin.

Here are some excerpts of the (condescending and chauvinist) dialogue:

[The presenter welcomes Mr. Bourdin. Questions about his profession]


— Mr. Bourdin is an Incredible But True musician, because one day, his daddy built a device...

— Exact.

— ... which is named the Narinophone ["Nostrilophone"]. Please would you show this Incredible But True instrument: the only instrument played with the nose... The case is a matchbox, and this is daddy's invention. So, teach us how to play the Narinophone... it's an instrument which is attached with adhesive...

— Yes, so to get free of our hands.

Narinophone, you see? Because we're like that, in France: we've got no oil, but we have Narinophones!... Is it an artistic instrument? It could also have been called the Morvophone (Snot-o-phone) too, but it was less melodious. I prefer Narinophone. Well, Mr. Bourdin, is the instrument set?

— [First whistling]

— Here is your mike, and you're going to play something for us with the Narinophopne, please.

— [Playing]

— Very well done!


—So... please... it's a remarkable instrument... Oh!

[instrument falling on the ground]

— My God! Let's put it back quickly in its case, don't we, because it's a very precious instrument. And you see, this is France. France of Incredible But True, this France which – where is the camera? Yes, this one – This France which is able to introduce, on a Sunday, an Incredible But True instrument, packed in a matchbox, Mr. Bourdin's Narinophone, who is applauded as he deserves it! Bravo Mr. Bourdin!


[Mr. Bourdin plays a subway ticket]


Here is the footage:


Now let's have a look at some screenshots:

The nose flute is a metal one — quite shiny – with a straight (square) heel, on which one can see a pair of holes. At the very beginning, it is possible to see the back of the flute, and it seems it featured a lip rest.

Because of its shape, his nose flute looks to be an Ocariflute [see this post], and this is rather problematic...
In the footage, the TV host Jacques Martin says « his daddy built a device » and then « This is daddy's invention ». As far as we know, the Ocariflute was invented by Achille Brilhault in 1922-23. And according to the Brilhault family tree, Achille had no children [see this post]. Even if he had one, the son would have been named Brilhault too, and not Bourdin.
(Well, remains the case of Mr. Bourdin having been an illegitimate child. In this 1982 video, Mr. Bourdin looks to be around 55-60. So, he would have been born around 1922-1927. So, there is a technical possibility).

Mr. Bourdin's nose flute shows two holes in the heel. Maybe were they made to slip a cord for hanging the flute around the neck. How has this Narinophone stayed so shiny during more than 50 years without having gotten rusty? Twenty years before, in 1961, Jean Dubuffet's one was already clearly oxydized... Well, safely preserved and wiped up or varnished... It could have been a genuine Ocariflute in perfect shape.

I have no answer for any of those questions, and won't certainly never have. Was this instrument a genuine Ocariflute or a copy made by a musician? Did Mr. Bourdin's father build this instrument or was it just a family belief? Was he the inventor of the Ocariflute and sold the patent to Brilhault? Only a copy of the list of 1923 Concours Lépine silver medallists could help... (For sure, I made a search for a patent registered by an inventor named Bourdin, but found nothing).


  1. Sorry, but I don't buy it. Did Mr Bourdin's father also invent how to use adhesive tape to stick the instrument to the face? Hardly likely.

    His using the edge of a subway ticket (, a reed, a blade of grass or for that matter anything with a pointed edge), vibrating the air and consequently creating a tone, indicates that Mr Bourdin had been looking for easy to play low-key (natural) instruments in the same genre as the kazoo.

    This simply is one of quite a few amateur enthusiasts who uses an apparently unknown instrument to make a career out of 2-minute TV appearances.

    It's all very nice that the nose flute gets attention this way every now and then, but it really doesn't contribute in any way to a sustainable or more serious image of the instrument. If anything, it keeps alive the image of the nose flute as an idiosyncratic novelty.

    The nose flute really could do with more videos such as those by Mr Brent Ritter and Mr Mosurin.

  2. Hello Maikel,

    Oh, I understand "you don't buy it". (but what don't you buy? The video? Mr Bourdin? The fact the presenter says "daddy's invention"?)
    My feeling also is that the instrument is an Ocariflute, and was not invented by Mr. Bourdin Sr. I hope I didn't give the feeling to think he was.

    However, I was very glad to find this video :)-

  3. I am always glad to watch any video related to the nose flute, as they are quite rare. One of the many great things about your blog is that it collects and shows all that is out there, including this one.

    However, every time I pray there is something more to them than someone simply producing a few tones and everybody just having a laugh. I must say that approach rather puts me off. That's why I am so happy to watch videos on your blog with actually talented players such as Mr Ritter and Mr Mosurin !

    I was referring to the presenter's and Mr Bourdin's statement about "his father's invention", which is highly unlikely to hold any truth. The nose flute in this video obviously is an Ocariflute, which possibly could have been cleaned and plated in very much the same way that you treated the rusty Humanatone.

  4. Great video - he plays quite well. I guess he didn't think of using an elastic band to hold the whistle to his head..... The tape looks uncomfortable.
    I am amazed by your ability to find information for your blog - Antoine, you should have been a detective.

  5. Thank you Chris! Well.. detective... you spend your life chasing adulterated couples... I prefer chasing nose flutes! :)

  6. It just occured to me that daddy might have been a good craftsman ans copied an ocariflûte, that then could go in the family as 'daddies invention'. hat maight explain the shiny appearance, it may not be as old. However Maikel's first comment is probably closer to the truth.

    1. Oh really!? Great! Do you still have it ? regarding Maikel Mei's comment : I'm not sure it has mandatorily been replated : I have found "pristine" jewel dating of 20 years before the Oclariflute. As far as they are kept in their box in a dry place, they don't rust...particularly if they are used (meaning taken care of). See (I didn't restore it...). More, the silver plated ones were copper plated before getting the silver coat, making them even more resistant. Cheers, Harm!

  7. Sorry for the typo's *That might explain*