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 2, 2017

Nasi-Flauto: What? A Nose Flute before Carter?

Incidentally, I found a news in Brooklyn Daily Eagle, dated of July 6, 1890, and relating the invention of a nose flute in Italy, by il Signor Filippo Atô of Bari! What ? A nose flute in 1890, one year before William Carter filed his patent, and two before its registration ??

Brooklyn Daily Eagle, July 6, 1890:

A nose flute, maybe, but maybe not "our" type of nose flute, since the "urban type" of nose flutes would not allow to smoke a cigar while playing, but who knows... Maybe a narrow cigarillo could be inserted in the mouth hole, and a musician could alternatively smoke and play... I needed to find more.

I found more.

The Republican Watchman (Monticello, NY), July 25, 1890 and the McIvor Times and Rodney Advertiser (Heathcote, Victoria, AU), August 7, 1890:

…and even earlier, in June:

Il Friul (IT), June 27, 1890 and West Somerset Free Press (UK), June 21, 1890:

So, not only Mr. Filippo Atô was able to smoke a cigar while playing his nose flute, but also to eat, to drink and to sing. This sounded weird, and impossible to do with a buccal pitched nose flute.

However two points are interesting. First, the journalist at Somerset Free Press immediately imagines an anti-snoring use for the instrument. But more important: the news had quite a big repercussion and was diffused in many countries (Italy, for sure, but also United Kingdom, USA and Australia).

We also learn that the news is originated from the Musical World, the most reknown (if not the only) musical newspaper in the world at this time. It was based in London.

After many searches, I finally found the right issue of the Musical World, dated of 14th of june, 1890. What a coincidence! it is the 14Th of June... 1892 – two years later to the day – that Carter's patent was registered!

The Musical World (UK), June 14, 1890:

No doubt possible anymore! Filippo Atô's instrument is trumpet shaped! It was definitely not a "urban type" nose flute, and was very certainly pitched by the fingers.

But one thing stays very interesting. We never had any clue about what gave to William Carter the idea of inventing the nose flute... This might be the answer. Indeed, the news was spread all over the world, and I found it in two newspapers published in the NY state. In the NY newspapers, there are no much more details than an instrument played with the nose, the mouth being thus left free. With no drawing, nothing evoking the trumpet shape, and this, just one year before Carter filed his patent...

May we set the hypothesis that Carter got aware of this instrument and decided to invent his own ?



  1. I could never get my head around how William Carter got his inspiration for the Nasalette in the first place. I would say your hypothesis is the best explanation by far and therefore the most likely to be true. It really sounds like the proper explanation.

    1. Dear Maikel, during my.. absence.. I found many and important things about Carter. I need to take time to write them down. This will take at least 3 articles. With great surprises... I know a lot about him now. Particularly that he had a big brother, which may have been an inspiration source for William too... Stay tuned :)

  2. Replies
    1. Patience ... I'm waiting for some confirmations from an historian who's very busy.