Just a week ago I received a Bocarina™ nose flute. I was curious about it and full of expectations and, well, they were more than fulfilled.
When asked by our highly estimated webmaster to write a player’s report about the Bocarina™ I was not sure if I should accept this high honour since I did not have much time yet to really get to know the instrument well. But the little I played was so much fun and so inspiring that I would like to share my experiences with you, dear nose flute community.
So, if any of you are interested in a report of high technical and musical perfection and a "serious" report on playability, sound range etc. with sound samples in perfect pitch and so on please do one yourself or pay me for it so I can quit the many other jobs I have and spent all day practising and writing about nose flutes!
Knowing that there are some Bocarinas™ around already with good and ambitious players there will be or are already (see yesterday’s blog) very good recordings with this promising new instrument. I am looking forward to more.
The specifications have been shown very well in the last blog post so no need to say much more. Beautiful stuff: nice design, good, solid material and – most important for you, dear nosefluters, the playability.
The Bocarina™ meets many different requirements. It seems to be extremely easy to learn for any novice nose flutist but it also matches players with a higher demand on musical possibilities. As in most of the tasks I have not much experience with that yet, but as a little example: A surely not very talented friend of mine played it with the weirdest efforts and I am sure no Handler, nor Schwan or any other decent noseflute would have responded to that. But the lady produced sounds, and it was not even that bad....
So, learning on beginner’s level should be rather easy. Something that has fascinated me from the beginning is that this noseflute has very many possibilities for playing:
-Playing badly: certainly it sounds bad if you play badly but still there is sound coming out (important for beginners, even more important for nose flute teachers...).
-A rather constant sound whatever you do – you can even move the mouth completely away and not touch the instrument with the lips at all. The lower part of the Bocarina™ has such a shape that it builds up a sound very easily, no matter how you hold it.
- Water, cold, heat etc.: to prove the Bocarina™ is water-proof I made a little recording in the morning shower: (let me assure you that this is absolutely authentic!)
There is a little part where the sound goes away (12’), I held my head under the shower just to see what happens. Very little irritation and the fun continues. You can also wear the Bocarina™ when washing your hair. Surely in the shower you should use the hand-free technique for effective showering. The acoustics are very supporting!
Now totally convinced about the stability of this little instrument I had some funny ideas about playing possibilities and little promotion videos under extreme circumstances. Skiing, free climbing, canoeing down the niagara falls etc. (looking forward to upcoming videos). I might get some inline skating vids done in spring...Just imagine my surprise when two days ago I got an email by Chris Schuermans, the inventor of the Bocarina™, writing about his original idea when posting his video on youtube. « Originally I posted my video clip on YouTube not to see how many views I could get nor was it made to market the Bocarina™ on the internet. It was made because I was looking for a sponsor (large companies and banks) here in SA to use the Bocarina™ as a promotional item, especially at sporting events. As you know the vuvuzela was very popular (good or bad) at the Fifa World Cup Soccer. I made the clip so that I could email large corporations and send them a link to the video clip. »
This task leads us to a very important question: what about
Hand-free playing: The Bocarina™ has no device for hand-free playing. But it is very easy to use an elastic band to fix the instrument in order to have your hands free for taking a shower, cleaning windows etc. or – if you are more ambitious – playing another instrument with it. It works rather well hand-free and you can move the instrument quite a lot without messing up the sound. As you know playing the nose flute always looks stupid so surely you will not care for looking even more stupid, will you? The freedom has its price though. Playing high notes requires a different position than playing low notes. When you hold the instrument with your hand you can easily adjust to that. When your hands play another instrument, well, it is a bit harder. You can hear it here. Since my hands and a little part of my mind are busy with the guitar, well, the intonation goes down quite a bit. Shame on me! (the problem is worst with notes extremely high or low since those are hardest to get without hand-help).
Low notes: The Bocarina™ has a beautiful bassy sound in the low register. With none of the nose flutes I know I can reach lower notes than with this one! In the last sound sample a is the lowest note. In my recording, well, it does not sound very good, but I assure you it will sound better and you can reach the right tuning when you use the hand for support. Practising surely will help too – I hope ;-)
Medium sound range: In medium range the sound is very good, rich and sweet. I find the sound very inspiring for “singing” the melodies. Discovering more and more possibilities of this instrument is pure joy, I can honestly tell you that!
For getting to know the bocarina well it surely is a good way to stick to the sound register that is enjoyable. Here is a recording in the medium range.
High notes: Well, this is a problem. The price for the terrific bass and medium register is that the sound of the high notes can get quite nasty and I have not yet found a proper solution to that. As far as I know Chris Schuermans knows about this task (there will be an interview with him soon and maybe more to read about it). He wrote me about this task: « You should also try holding the Bocarina slightly away from your mouth when playing the high register, or try pulling the corners of your lips away from the Bocarina body (to form gaps), this will improve the tonal quality of the high notes. »
So, what to do? I do not know yet if practising will help – for now I must admit that for my own and my neighbour’s good I do not play extremely high notes or use my Handler wooden flute for that.
Fast notes: There is a very slight kind of "Massenträgheit" (mass moment of inertia – that is what google tranlator says, hope it means what I mean). The very robust and easy to handle Bocarina™ fulfills many tasks extraordinarily well. Playing fast and jumping between sound registers is possible with good results but needs quite some adjustment if used to another instrument with different specifications. For very fast playing I personally am very fond of the hand-crafted Handler wooden flute and you can play fast stuff almost by just thinking the music. Like dealing with a racehorse eager to react to the tiniest commands. The Bocarina™ in this respect I would rather compare to a very patient and jolly, bit older horse that forgives you a lot but if you want to run it surely will run like hell! Don’t forget that we are dealing with the Ferrari amongst nose flutes!
Continuing comparing I would say that playing the Bocarina™ needs more, bigger movements of the mouth for tonal change than the smaller instruments of good quality you can get. This fact, I think, is what makes playing so easy, even for beginners. So this for sure is not a disadvantage, only if you practice too much because you will have tension in your jaws!
So, fast playing is possible without problems but needs some practice as well as good techniques. I recorded a little Vivaldi with my music room playalong orchestra (the connaisseur may forgive me the tasteless vibrato I use, it is just so much fun...)
Actually I would never have imagined that a noseflute made of plastic would sound and work this well! There are also Bocarinas™ made of clay with the exact same shape and very similar playability.
Plastic and clay Bocarinas™: To me the clay sounds a bit "rounder" and warmer.
With the plastic instruments I find it easier to reach low notes, especially when playing hand-free which is also easier with this one because it is much lighter and will not break.
To give you a little impression of the sounds, just listen:
The first one plastic, second clay – do you hear the difference? To be honest, I find it not easy, but playing surely feels different.
Here we have another sound sample, I will not tell you on which instrument...
So what do you think? Plastic or clay?
Haha, sorry, a little joke from my side. Since I do not possess a Schwan nose flute to play the Schwan by Saint-Saëns, I chose another interesting model, the Pfaff Nasenpfeife (bottle opener flute).
Now the real Bocarinas™:
The differences is not too huge, is it? The first is again plastic, second part (from 22’) the clay. Still, in this one I hear the difference more than in the scales. Each instrument feels a bit different and playing Vivaldi and fast or higher stuff as well as classical repertoire is more fun with the clay instrument. For me personally.
No better or worse. As with any kind of noseflute I find it difficult to say one is better or worse than another. I have found that what works great for me must not necessarily work well for others, depending on different factors such as anatomy, musical taste and many more.
So this review of the Bocarina™ states my personal rather fresh experience and opinion about it. Concluding I would say that this new star in the noseflute universe is sure to become a star!
Thank you to Chris S. for having developed it so beautifully, and also thanks to Mr. Job te Pas for having discovered the bocarina and having put our webmaster's and thus following my nosy nose to it. And thank you, dear reader, for your patience if you read this little report until the end!
I say goodbye with a little very old German song (playing free-hand Bocarina™ with my favorite little Brueko ukulele):
« Spiele kleine Flöte spiele
sag den Freunden Gute Nacht
sei willkommen Abendkühle
und du Stern der ersten Nacht »
« Play little flute play
say goodnight to the friends
be welcomed cool evening
and the star of the first night »
Birdy K., the Nosy Diva !
On the same topic, you can read :
Bocarina™ part I : A South African Ferrari
Bocarina™ part II : The clay original
Bocarina™ part III : A player's report - by Birdy K.
Bocarina™ part IV : Chris Schuermans' interview
Bocarina™ part V : The Ones you'll never have...
Bocarina™ part VI : The Ancestors
Bocarina™ part VII : Experiments 1
Bocarina™ part VII : Experiments 2
Where to get a Bocarina™
Brionski Ebay store
Dan Moi online shop
Grothmusic online shop
And for larger quantities, for sure :
95 Farnham Rd. Lynnwood Manor
Pretoria, 0081 RSA (South Africa)
Cell phone no. +27 83 954 3224
Telephone no. +27 12 361 4659,
email : chris[at]schuermans[dot]org