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.

Jan 10, 2013

The Ocariflûte / Oclariflûte

The Catalogue général de la Société de la Gaîté française, a french novelties catalogue #1, published in 1930, proposed a new little instrument called the Ocariflûte. « No need to know Music. No fingering, no need to hold the instrument, it is handsfree and one can play it along with violin, piano, accordion, etc. ». The advertisement shows, however, a man in tuxedo holding the Ocariflute in his hand.
For sure, it is a nose flute - a french one - and it is classified as a Jazz instrument.

Earlier, another (or the same...) instrument called Oclariflûte, with a "L" after the "C", had appeared in the catalogue of the Manufacture générale d'Instruments de Musique (unkn. date). It is classified as a Jazz instrument, but also as a toy ("Jazz-Jouets"). It is proposed through several versions: tin, nickel plated or luxus, for jazz.

On this lastad, we can clearly read on the flute: "Instruments Brilhault" and in-between the 2 words: "BT. SGDG", abbreviation of "Breveté Sans Garantie du Gouvernement" (patented with no government warranty). So, the baby was patented (but I found no trace of its file).

The instrument looks like a regular metal nose flute, with one specificity: the shape of its mouth shield which, contrarywise to almost any other flute, is not rounded at its bottom, but presents a kind of square heel.

There is no doubt that the Ocariflûte and the Oclariflûte were the same instruments.

On the first ad, one can guess the shape of the Oclariflûte heel...

But more: here is an newspaper article published Sep. 27, 1923, in the Figaro and about the famous Concours Lépine (inventions contest). The paper says: « L'Oclariflûte. This sensational novelty still gets a huge success at the Concours Lépine. It is very difficult to approach this booth, where the crowd makes a real rampart to listen to this little instrument. Everybody will become a musician with this novelty, unique in its type. Nickeled instrument, 6 francs, nickeled copper, 8 francs, and grand luxus item, 12 francs, in a case with user manual...»

And if you look back at the first advertisement, you'll notice the title is underwritten by « Médaille d'argent au Concours Lépine » (Silver medal at the Lépine Contest). I think this is a definitive evidence that Ocariflûte and Oclariflûte were the same.

So, a nose flute got a silver medal at the Concours Lépine, in Paris, 1923!
For sure, I contacted the current Lépine contest organization to ask if they could find something in their archives (a name, an address, an occupation... for the inventor). Unfortunately, I haven't got an answer yet.

But we know the name of the company who sold (and probably manufactured) the Oclariflûte: Ets. Brilhault, 17, boulevard Rochechouart, Paris IX. (The Figaro made a spelling mistake in the name, writing "Brilhaut" instead of "Brilhault", missing the "L").


Now, why the two names, with or without a L?

I am quite sure this came from a trademark issue. The nose flute was named Oclariflûte in 1923 (at Lépine Contest). Maybe the inventor wanted to name his nose flute without the L"... but there was already a wind instrument called Ocariflûte! It was metal ocarina shaped like... a flute, and patented by another musical manufacture in Paris, the Ets. Mathieu.

But in the 1930 catalogue, the nose flute is called Ocariflûte. Were the rights over the name Ocariflûte over? Or did the Ets. Mathieu sell the brand to Ets. Brilhault?

It seems that the Mathieu's ocarina was sold from the early 1890's until the beginning of the 1900s. But I also found that the brand Ocariflûte had been registered in 1901 and 1916 by:

Ch. & J. Ullmann were instruments makers and big distributors: in 1907 their catalogue is composed of 13 volumes! ... and they are the successors of Lecomte & Mathieu Co. The same Mathieu who invented the Ocariflûte-ocarina. In the 1907 catalogue, 9th part (Toys intruments), one can see the Mathieu's ocarinas, but for sure, no nose flute (they have not appeared in France yet).

So, the brand was owned by the Odeon company in 1916, but I don't know if it was registered only for recordings or also for musical instruments. Anyway, it's more than likely that the name was still registered in 1922-23, when the nose flute by Brilhault was issued.

Jan 9, 2013

A great set by Master Katada

Published on his blog Ki_Kanban, this new incredible set of nose flutes made by master Kunio Katada:

Jan 8, 2013 origin for the name?

Do you remember Flapi, the spanish-basque fluo plastic nose flute produced in 1988? Some of us wondered what such a commercial name could come from...

Well... I found a comic, that was also a cartoon, which was broadcast in Spain from 1979 and featured a couple of squirrels. The two little heroes were names Banner and Flapi (Flapi was the lady), and the cartoon Banner y Flapi.

Could this have been the origin of the nose flute name? The funny thing is that the typo used for both the comics and the nose flute resemble much.

A Banner y Flapi episode:

Jan 7, 2013

Home made mirror Bocarina in minutes?

I found a japanese product dedicated to sci-fi modelists...

It is called Kosutte-Ginsan and is a little kit containing a pair of plastic gloves, a cotton mask, a very soft cotton pad and a small round box which contains a matte dark grey powder.

If you rub some of this powder on any plastic item, it immediately turns into a very thin chromium-mirror coat! So, I applied the Kosutte-Ginsan on a Bocarina...

I first chose a orange one, but a much better result was obtained on a black one. It took me 2 minutes to chrome the boccy, and it was as easy as it looks to be! Only problem: any tiny flaw is visually "enhanced".

Where to find this (rather expensive) product? I found mine in Spain, there.

Composition for BMW Motorcycle and Nose Flute

Jan Schellink is a Dutch experimental musician and happening maker. He perfoms in public improvisations, with a mix of dadaistic and concrete music references, but also reworks live recordings in his studio afterwards, by mixing samples like one would in House music...

« Mijn oren zijn de 1e deur voor klank. Het komt daar als klank binnen, en daarna weer door vele deuren en kamers in mijn hoofd. Die kamers zitten vol met klankindrukken uit het verleden, en komen weer als nieuw idee met klank naar buiten. Klank in al zijn verscheidenheid verwonderd mij elke dag. Alles wat klank maakt, en elk mens dat klank maakt is in feite mijn inspiratie bron. Maar ook stilte werkt inspirerend. Klank en stilte maakt leven hoorbaar. » ("My ears are the first door for sound. It is there as a sound inside, and then through many doors and rooms in my head. These rooms are full of sound impressions from the past, and come back as a new idea with sound outside. Sound in all its diversity amazed me every day. Anything that makes sound, and every man that makes sound is actually my inspiration. But silence is inspiring. Sound and silence makes life audible.")

With the footage of one of his happenings based on improvisation, Jan Schelling made a long and stunning montage/collage, and just released it on Youtube.

It is called Compositie voor BWM motorfiets/claxon en Oranje neusfluit, that is Composition for BWM motorcycle/horn and Orange nose flute.

The 2 soloists are:

Marcel Wierckx, BMW motorcycle/horn
Orangeman, aka Ron Jagers, nose flute

Jan 6, 2013

Wunderflöte: more complexity...

Looking for the name Wunderflöte, our beloved german correspondant the Nosy Diva found a press article about a music instrument collector, Karl Honak, alias Mr. Mundharmonica, in which it was written: « Beim Rundgang durch die einzelnen Zimmer nimmt er mal eben am Piano Platz und spielt ein paar Takte, pfeift „du bist verrückt mein Schatz“ auf der Wunderflöte durch die Nase. »

My interrogation was to know whether the name Wunderflöte had been used there as a generic name for a nose flute, or strickly for a Wunderflöte as a trademark. Mr. Honak confirmed to the Diva that he had a real Wunderflöte in his museum.
So, when I came back from Hannover where I spent the new year eve, I decided to pay a visit to Mr. Honak and to take some pictures of his Wunderflöte.

Well, Mr. Mundharmonika is a very fine performer, with his mouth-harps as with the accordions. And for sure, the collection is very impressive, with more than 400 rare and vintage instruments, of any kind, but with a preference towards accordions (140 of them...) and keyboards, harmoniums, mechanical keyboards, etc.

By the way: This collection (the whole, not piece by piece) is on sale. If you are interested, please contact Mr. Honak in Bergkamen, Germany, or contact me and I'll forward to him.

I brought a vintage german Nasenflöte (Brunndöbra, 1920) and a metal Humanatone, to be able to take comparison snapshots with the Wunderflöte. But I made no pictures. When I was preparing to, Mr. Honak told me: « So, what do we do? We make an exchange? You know, for me to have this one or this one... ». Wow! Yes, totally spontaneously, Karl proposed me to trade the Wunderflöte! What a great and generous offer! I left Bergkamen with the Wunderflöte, and alleviated of a couple of vintage items.


The Wunderflöte

If you remember the recent posts about Mr. Goldstein (Part I and part II), you should have this idea of the Wunderflöte:

And you are right. In a way. Yes, once again, facts have appeared to be much more complex. Nose flute history is really so tricky...

The newcomer in my collection is very different from Piet Visser's Wunderflöte. It certainly is a Wunderflöte, as it is stamped « Wunderflöte ges. gesch. ». In german, "Geseztlich Geschütz" means "legally protected". It is a trademark protection, not a patent, it is related to the trade name Wunderflöte.

Let's make a tour of this vintage baby. It is from what we could call the "Humanatone genome" but, as any metal flute of this strain, has his own particularities. I would even say more specific than the others.

First, instead of rivets (Humanatone) or flaps inserted in a slit and folded (Brunndöbraer or the Piet Visser's Wunderflöte), it has large soldered quarter disks to fix the airway cap to the mouth shield.

The second big difference with a Humanatone or clone, is that the cover part includes also "wings" which are soldered to the ones of the nose shield. This provides a great rigidity to the top of the flute, which is the part the most manipulated. More, it provides a certain elegance, by drawing a curve where the humanatone has a soldered junction.

Those 2 particularities drive the Wunderflöte to show solderings *only* on its edges and joining superposed flat parts, providing a better security for hermeticity and solidity.

The next major difference is that this flute, contrawise to its competitors, has no upper lip rest. (I personally never found useful that little stand, and in the case of the metal flutes, it even can be dangerous...)

I made this series of pictures to show the last particularity: size and shape. It is a comparison between the Wunderflöte (center), the early Humanatone (left, and tallest) and the german Nasenflöte from Brunndöbra (right, and shorter). Note that the differences of width in the air way, size and shapeof the mouth shield, etc.



Let's sum up some facts:

- In the 1912 Goldstein's french patent, the design shows folded flaps but no lip rest.

- In 1912, Goldstein left Paris for Berlin.

- The Wunderflöte is mentionned in the 1913 Musehold's book, Berlin.

- In 1919, Goldstein left Berlin for London.

- In the 1926 Goldstein's british patent, the design shows folded flaps and a lip rest.

- The Wunderflöte is mentionned in the 1941 Wolf's book. The design is the one of "circle stamp" type, the one of Piet Visser's collection. Siegfried Wolf was a scientist and would not have used the name Wunderflöte as a generic name for a Nasenflöte.

- The brand Wunderflöte was a protected trademark.


My hypothesis is the following:

In 1912, Goldstein files a patent in Paris, where he was living. This might have been for financial reasons, because filing a patent in Germany was much more expensive than elsewhere (several times, according to Mr. Steinbrecher). Shortly after, Joseph Goldstein depart to Berlin, registered the trademark, and began to produced the Wunderflöte.

Because of its "early" shape (the "Humanatone genome"), because it has no lip rest like on the 1912 patent, I suppose this first Wunderflöte is the model I trade from Mr. Honak, or another model following even more closely the 1912 patent.

Then, in 1919, Goldstein left Berlin for London. My hypothesis is that he sold the brand. No use for this german name in the UK. But he probably kept the rights on his 1912 patent. Some maker would have bought the already known brand, to apply it to another model of nose flute, exactly like James Stivers did with the name Humanatone in 1903, and Fred Gretsch after him, in the early 40's.

So, if my hypothesis is right, it would explain that there was priorly a Wunderflöte (even several models...) produced by Goldstein in Berlin from 1912 to 1919, then a second totally different one (the "circle stamp" one) from 1920 to the 1940's.

But it's just an hypothesis.