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.

Oct 6, 2014

A Nose Kazoo??

While making researches about Harpo Marx and his possible nose fluting (see this post), I incidentally found a text mentionning a curious instrument.

The book Crossed My Mind - A Boy in Hurtsville was self-published at Balboa Press in February 2014, by Fred Hewison. « These are Fred Hewison’s random memories of his boyhood years while growing up in the Sydney suburb of Hurstville ». Fred Hewison was born in 1933 and lives in Australia.

Here is a quotation of the text that retained my attention:

In this anecdote, the author describes an instrument that was called nose flute. Aluminium made, apparently shaped as a nose hood, extending downwards to cover one's mouth; there being a split to allow the instrumentalist to breathe. More: Unlike the more conventional wind instruments, the sounds were generated by the exhalation of air through the nose.

Until there, the description could have been the one of a tin Magic Flute, excepted for its aluminium make. But then, Fred Hewison continues: [the nose breath] was transferred to sound waves by a piece of tissue paper within the flute that was required to be replaced at regular intervals. The author also adds that the notes emanated from the throat area and that playing this nose flute was like singing through the nose.

This really sounds like a kazoo, a nose blown kazoo! As you probably know it, a kazoo is a cigar shaped tube in which the player "hums" a tune (with his mouth), in order to induce the vibrations of a cellophane or waxed paper membrane that amplifies and distorts the melody. There were other instruments (or shapes), working on the same principle, notably the Hum-a-Tune or Fanfare, the famous french Varinette (see this post) or many other funny ones.

But I had never heard of nose kazoo... I mean: yes, it is easy to find gentle lunies who play their (regular) kazoo with their nose, like some people do with a mouth harp, like the famous Ignatz Topolino or Benson Prabahkar Anchan. But a kazoo devoted to nose breath?

The thing is, according to Fred Hewison, that the instrument he describes seems really to look like a nose flute: a nose hood, a mouth kinda-shield and a split in front of the mouth.

Well, I sent a message to CaptainKazoo, the kazzo expert, to ask if he already heard of this oddity. Howard gently published a "Zooz Nooz" to call for info among his readers.

I also sent a message to Mr. Hewison's publisher to ask to get in contact with this author.

Now, let's wait.


  1. Couldn't it just be a membrane put across the outside of the labium? I used to do that with a cigarette paper, fastened with cello-tape. The result was the reedy, gritty tone that I wanted to copy from the Chinese bamboo tranverse flute. I called it my "prepared nose flute". The paper needed fairly frequent replacing, for as it got wet, it wouldn't vibrate.Playing it for a short period and letting it dry also did the trick.

    1. Hello Maikel! Yes, you are absolutely right: it sounds like a regular tin nose flute "hacked". But in the case it was a specific instrument, I would like to know!