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.

Dec 28, 2012

Awesome Hanabue by Akio Takamura

We already had the opportunity to show some of Mr. Takamura's creations in this blog, notably here and there.
Akio Takamura (高村 章雄) not only is a potter and shapes clay nose flutes, but also is a painter and ornates them with incredibly beautiful hypnotic and psychedelic designs. He lives in the Hiroshima Prefecture, Japan.

It's also have been a long time that I've been trying to reach this young master and order some of his nose flutes, but it was difficult, for many reasons, particularly language. But finally, my efforts turned sucessful and I just received some awesome hanabue.

Akio Takamura creates many shapes, but I ordered 4 flutes of 3 different shapes that were available in his last batch. Mr. Takamura generously offered me a small round raw one, plus many cords with beads.

The Small model

This is a very simple round clay nose flute, with two holes for a cord, making it look like a little mask.

Here is one of the painted model of a similar shape, but even a bit smaller (4.3 x 5 cm). Look how beautiful it is, with the painting enhancing the mask appearance:

The air entrance of both these small hanabue is a very thin slit opened in a very lightly curved nose saddle: it is typically designed for asian noses. My occidental nose, with bottom cartilage does not fit well with this shape, and I have to hold the flute in an oblique way, choosing one nostril and blocking the other. However, using this technique, the flute has a very nice sound, loud and precise, mostly medium/bass oriented.

Here is a short sound sample:

The Large model

Well "large" is only used here in comparison with the small model, since this flute is 4.7 x 7.5 cm, which is a regular measurement. I ordered two of this model, since they are stunningly beautiful, with their psychedelic patterns. The designs themselves are beautiful, but also the choice of colors. And they are finely painted (sorry for that some of my "macro" photos may show some flaws, but please imagine they are not visible with "regular eyes".)

Those flutes are real little masks, with eyes, mouth, and also a nose.

Some pictures:

Both flutes wear AkioTakamura's monogram on the back.

The flutes are also double-bored: one pair of holes (the "eyes") to pass the neck cord, but also a transversal hole in the "nose" for a handfree playing!

On the playing side, the large masks feature the same kind of (efficient) thin slit for the air entrance, and the same small and narrow air exit and mouth hole. The labium is a double bevel, long and sharp inside, and short and more open on the front.
But the main difference with the small model is that here, the nose saddle is larger, with a longer nose cover and thus, is much more comfortable for an occidental nose. No need to clog one nostril to play with the other, here, a regular position is allowed for us.

The sound is as clear and precise as with the small model, with the same characteristics.

Here is a short sound sample:

The Double Nose Flute

This Akio Takamura's creation is very clever: a double nose flute! But before to discuss about that unique feature, let's have a look at its gorgeous paintings. This one is more geometric, but still psycho-hypnotic, let's dare to say "mystic" or "masonic", with a cyclops eye in a large yellow triangle flashing out a pink fluo background:

This flute is rather flat and broad:

So, this is a double nose flute. It has 2 air entrances, 2 air ducts, 2 mouth holes and 2 labiums! And the particularity is that the 2 fipples are not the same. One mouth hole is small and the other larger. And thus, one labium is long and the other shorter.

What is the idea laying behind a double nose flute? Is it to play two notes at the same time? Is it to get more power? Is it tandem-playing with your girl friend?
No no and no. The tonality is produced by the size of the mouth cavity, not by the flute. The air is produced by the nose and thus the loudness, not by the flute. And finally, tandem-playing would be a real bet!

The idea is to have two fipples with different specifications. Thus, having one of them medium-bass oriented, and the other medium-sharp oriented. The goal is to increase the tonality range! When one fipple is out of its natural tone, the other one get the relay! This is quite clever!

The problem for me was to make it sound... Indeed, the nose saddle is of the "asian type", and using the trickery of clogging one nostril and hold the flute in an oblique position would be of no interest with this double-hanabue. To get the benefit of it, both nostrils must be active.

Well, I finally succeeded with some adhesive tape to block the air leaks at my nose, but made no recording. But yes, it should work, I got sharper notes than the ones produced but the other Takamura's flutes. This is a good idea, and a model dedicated to occidental noses would be welcome!

The Cords

As told at the beginning of this post, Mr. Takamura had the gentleness to offer me beautiful neck cords, ornated with beads. Really cool!

Thank you Akio, and keep on painting great hanabue!