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.

Aug 9, 2014

An Original Couchois

I recently had the great luck to acquire an original Garrett John Couchois' whistle (read: a nose flute). We previously posted an article about this beautiful baby, which (real) existence was not ascertained yet, besides the Couchois' patent. We had made researches about uts inventor (check here please). We had even built a replica (check here, here and here please).

But now, thanks to Mr. Brian B., we have one in our hand, and in a very nice condition! Take a look at that beauty!

It is stamped PAT. ALLOWED 1899, which perfectly corresponds to the Couchois patent No. US31,876, registered Nov. 21, 1899. Indeed, the Couchois' nose flute is the 2nd urban nose flute in history, following Carter's Nasalette [1892] (and from which it flattens the nose hood into a nose saddle and rounds the square mouth tube), and before the Magic Nose Flute [±1902], which will improve the Couchois with a mouth shield instead of the mouth tube.

Coincidentally, and by a curious chance, Mr. Brad G. very recently posted a comment on this blog to tell he had found a Couchois too. He kindly sent us a couple of phot, and yes, it is absolutely the same instrument, despite the repair Brad's nose flute got at the neck :

As you can see, it had been necessary to weld solidly the saddle and the neck. Indeed, mine shows frailty at the same point, and I suppose there was a real weakness at this point, as I had noticed with the difficult welding I had to make on the replica.

Brad wrote me: « On the front of the air tube is a patent date that says "PAT. 189" due to the repair the full date is unreadable as is another word that follows "PAT. that starts with "AL ».
This is interesting, because if you look on mine, a repair would have not make disappear the same part of the stampings, and so, we can state that, contrarywise to a Humanatone for instance, the stampings were made by hand (sometimes one way, sometimes the other...)

Now, was I right with my replica and the corrections I made on the inconsistent patent drawings? Well, I must say I was not totally wrong... but my replica is a bit taller, the mouth hole that I reduced was a wrong interpretation, and following the size of the air entrance deduced by the patent was a mistake (since it got wider in the poduction).

But Couchois' drawings wre not accurate neither, compared to the real nose flute. So, I don't really feel guilty :)

And big thanks to Brad G. for sharing your pictures, and if your have other public (or not!) performances, please try to have someone to shoot a video!



  1. I am stunned to see that an original Couchois whistle has turned up! It's even more amazing that two have emerged recently. Many thanks to Brian and Brad!

    I just totally love the original design and the age that it oozes. Great to see the design formalized; it had been out there all along; I wonder just how and where these instruments were found.

    Highly interesting to see the differences between the drawings --which up till now was all to go by-- and the end results of both the original and the replica. I reckon Antoine is already working on an exact replica by now... I guess the first replica could always be used as a doorhandle...! ;-)

    Photo-compositions superb as usual. I find the combinations of the original drawings and the original instrument really touching. Artefacts.

    1. Thank you Maikel! Yes, this was a great find! The Couchois is so beautiful, and as long as we have not encountered a sample of the Nasalette-Humanatone from 1893 exhibition, this is our oldest nose flute

    2. I wonder to which timespan we could date these two nose flutes: 1899 to 1903? To me, it seems that Couchois quickly changed tack, and tried to jump onto any bandwagon that came along. I am afraid he could have lost interest in the nose flute rather quickly. That would suggest the Couchois nose flute was consequently discontinued relatively soon.

  2. Yes, it was probably launched a bit before 1899 (1898?), maybe with a kind of "patent pending" mark, then the "PAT. ALLOWED" from 1899. I would say that it is reasonable to think that the Magic Flute was launched in 1902 (it appears in 1903 Howe catalog, which was probably printed in 1902 or early 1903. And I really think that the Magic Flute is the improvement of the Couchois's wistle, probably by Couchois himself. Then, I found a new evidence of the continuity from Magic Flute to Humanatone (to be published soon).
    I also think that after having sold the brands Humanatone and the Magic Flute to the Stivers, Couchois went on other markets (notably music sheet publishing)