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 16, 2014

A pack of early Grover-Trophy Humanatones

I found a pack of 12 red humanatones, probably dating of the late 60's. They were still made of injected polystyrene, and not yet moulded polypropylene, as they are nowadays. They are made of a translucent material (in fact they are the exact model shown here)

But these nose flutes are already "Trophy USA" branded (not "Gretsch" anymore, and not "Trophy Music Co." yet). They belong to the first series of Grover-Trophy Humanatones. On the back side, they mention the patent number, but no "Made in USA" as they have been doing since.

(Left: the 60's model, Right: current one):

Look and feel the different qualities of plastic :

and hear it: first the polypropylene falling on my desk, then the polystyrene :

In the bag, there were also a dozen of user manuals:

What is interesting there, is that the user manual is very similar to another red Humanatone I have, which is... a Gretsch one, with a "Trophy Music" user manual — meaning it was a transitional model (made by Gretsch, but sold by Grover) – and thus, the 12-pack is very likely from the first productions by Trophy, as stated above.

(Left: the Gretsch user manual, Right: the Trophy one):

The only differences lay in:
- the font used for the title and address lines
- the change of "take care to have the MOUTH WELL OPEN" for "

On the nose flute side, both late Gretsch and early Trophy are identical, both in polystyrene (the Gretsch is not translucent), same font for the patent number mention, no "Made in USA"... And the only difference lays on the duct cover with a "Gretsch" mention on one hand, and "Trophy USA" on the other.

Jan 15, 2014

Adjustable nose flute

Shuenping Chiou (YW), our friend from Taïwan who likes to invent and build special nose flutes, has produced a « range adjustable nose flute ». On this purpose, he coupled a nose flute and a big syringe, forming a slide nose whistle.

The principle is to allow a modification of the size of the resonance cavity 'by default' (increasing more or less the air volume of your mouth). So, with the same mouth opening, you would get different notes, depending on how you set the slide).

Here is the test video:

This idea was patented by Joseph Goldstein in 1926, but we don't know if the model was manufactured.

Also, Maikel Mei had tried a such a device, but a bit more complex, grafting a slide and a recorder to a nose flute.

Jan 14, 2014

Homemade nose flute by Steven Parkes

Steven Parkes is a British citizen and has been a nose flute fan since he got his first in the late 50's, from a mail-order company called Ellisdon's. His story is typical and touching:

« Of course, by its delicate nature, it soon got broken and I used to think how good it would be to make my own, strong version out of metal and wood, though it was completely beyond my abilities to turn my vague, childhood dream into a tangible reality.
Many years later - in the 1980s - I spotted a red, plastic 'humanatone' in a music-shop window. A different model to my earlier one, and much flimsier and more delicate, too! I entertained my children with it for a short time, but then, it too got broken into many pieces! Devastated, I tried desperately to save it by sellotaping the pieces together, but it was no use! Once again, my noseflute-playing days were over, as the shop no longer stocked any more of them.

Then... came the internet! And Steven discovered different nose flutes, in plastci, metal or wood. He was particularly impressed with the models made by Martin and Martina Sommer in Berlin (see this topic)

« I like the fact that their air-duct is round-sided and so is their sound-hole. I am not proficient with a sharp chisel, so I would be able to make my own, similar noseflute using drills and half-round files instead. »

And Steven began the re-design and the making of his own wooden nose flute, accompanied with interesting technical and practical thoughts.

« Their design starts with a routed-out, U-shaped length of wood, however, and I couldn't copy that, so I had to come up with an alternative idea. That's when I thought of the arched fipple-plate, where the sides of the arch would strengthen the whole thing and also protect the delicate labium when carried around in the pocket, much as the Sommers' nasenfloten have their raised sides to protect their sound hole.
I made my first prototype out of a leftover piece of soft, pinewood - not an ideal material, but all I had available at the time.

Steven took snapshots during themaking and sent them to us, for our greatest pleasure! Here are some of them:

The basic parts and the "venturi effect" air duct:
The final instrument, after sanding :

Steven made a great job there! Welcome to the small world of the nose flute crafters! And that's not all, folks! : Mr. Parkes also made a test video, playing notably... the french national anthem :).
Here it is, with my respectuous greetings to our new collegue!

Thank you Steven!