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, 2012

A fancy clay Bocarina

For her birthday, the Nosy Diva AKA Miss Birdy K., received a unique Bocarina from Mr. Chris Schuermans. It's a clay nose flute, made of only one type of clay, the one that Chinese masters use for making teapots. I think/guess it's Yixing clay (Chris, please, could you confirm/infirm?), the famous "purple" clay (Zisha 紫砂 /Zi Ni 紫泥) that is the best for making teaware.

But more than that, the flute was stamped by metal punches in order to draw beautiful flowers and patterns. This was the path to a really unique and awesome Bocarina.

Now, here is the Nosy Diva's comment :

« This very special bocarina of a rare unglazed chinese clay is as beautiful as it is difficult to play. It requires very precise positioning and easily refuses to play - a real diva! Likewise the intonation: in general, intonation on the nose flute is difficult, but for this baby it is even harder, especially when you have bigger steps between the notes. But you are rewarded by a very clear and straight sound that takes a while to develop but gets more and more beautiful the more you play. Since you must be extremely precise it is also quite educative...
The material and the pattern on it is really beautiful..
Thanks very much to Chris Schuermans for this rare and beautiful instrument!

And a (short) sound sample to please us:


  1. Sounds really beautiful ! (and looks too !)
    Waiting for the next video with this instrument ;-)


  2. Isn't this the specific type of Chinese clay used for teapots that takes on all the flavour of the tea put inside and then releases it later when used again? I have always wanted to have such a teapot, after I read about it some 15 years ago. I could have only dreamed of a nose flute made in this material (and I have)!

    To me, this is the perfect ceramic/clay nose flute. I have been looking for a ceramic flute, or better somebody who could make it according to my specifications, since 1996. I have always been disappointed in finding out that such a thing could not be produced and would always be far too expensive to begin with, especially when made by Computer Aid Design.

    This clay nose flute not only looks great, but most of all it sounds superb! The quality tone is what I would expect of a clay/ceramic flute. It absolutely gives the instrument the clear edgy tone that lends itself so wonderfully well to play any Chinese or Asian melody (as cleverly displayed in the sound sample).

    Such a shame the Bocarina set-up doesn't quite suit my face! I therefore cannot rely on playing it. I am still hoping Chris Schuermans will consider creating a clay, ceramic or ABS nose flute that is set up more like a Weidlich & Lohse 'Swan' or Froby. I would happily trade my Bocarina painting for it!

    1. Maikel, thank you for your enthusiasm and compliments about the Yixing clay Bocarina ™ In the future I will make a flute in Yixing clay that more closely matches the setup of the ‘Swan’ – it may take a while though so don’t hold your breath.

    2. Chris, you're more than welcome, as you have contributed significantly to the development of the instrument yet again. A 'Swan'-style clay flute is truly awesome news! I have waited for ages for something like this to happen, so I guess I could wait a little longer.

    3. Well Chris, if you happen to make some, please reserve one for me! (and also a Yixing Boccy if you make new ones... :)

    4. I wonder if the 'Swan'-style clay nose flute will also have another name, since it's of a different type?

  3. Great photography - as usual, and the sound clip is superb and very oriental to match the clay I suppose! Just to confirm it is made with Yixing clay indeed. The clay is wonderful but difficult to work and is not well suited to flute making because of the behaviour of the clay in the firing process. That is why it is so difficult to play, the edge of the labium and the air passage slumped. The molecular/particle structure of the clay is very dense and somehow it tends to slump and warp during firing (to 1180C) like porcelain fired at very high temperatures (1300 C). I will try it again and fire at a lower temperature. The patterns on the Bocarina however were made with a stamping process, using various household items like screws, the folded end of a safety pin, the back end of a pen, rods as well as the tips of various sculpturing and wax carving tools. The patterns left and right of the labium window (3rd photo from the top) for instance were made with the head of a large screw, the “extend/retract” end of a pen scalpel and with the tip of a wax carving tool. The only “punches” (actually stamps for ink and paper) that were used are my logo (above the labium window) and the X pattern with the two squares (on the nose piece). These were modified by over stamping.

  4. Hello Chris,

    Thank you for your comments and explanation. It's a wonderful work! I have several Yixing teapots (I love them) and yes, I read how difficult it is to fire this clay.