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.

Mar 17, 2012

The Nose Slide : a bondage flute!

We, nose flute players, are used to face a very frequent comment : « With that thing on your nose, you look like Hannibal Lecter! ». Indeed, a bad noseflutist, too approximate with reaching the right tone, may easily transform into a serial killer for soft lambs : The look and the power...

Maikel Mei, the happy owner of the great silver flute we presented previously, sent us a new series of pictures which prove he fully deals with the frightening side of the nose flute.
He made a bondage installation on a shop window head, with a customized "Swan logo" and a « leather head dress with brass eyelets » made by himself. Let's call it a real "hand-free" nose flute!

« This head dress looks so much cooler and --if anything-- more 'real' than an elastic strap. It can be used in a very dramatic and theatrical way, including movement and dance. The outfit includes chains and handcuffs, creating a dark and gloomy 'Mad Max' atmosphere. The look combines bondage, sadomasochism and fetishism with restrained fugitive psychiatric patients ».

As you can see, the nose flute is not an original "Swan logo"; it has been improved.

« The head dress holds an improved 'swan logo' noseflute, which was created by Dutch flute builder Jelle Hogenhuis in February 1998. The concave air duct cover of the original plastic flute was replaced by a straight cover made from thick brass sheet. The much improved produced sound is channelled through two thick plastic strips on each side of the labium. It is the first significant breakthrough in my many attempts to improve the basic sound of the noseflute. This flute is the predecessor of the silver flute, which was built about 2 months later. »

But the improvement does not only increase the sound quality, it also adds some functionalities :

« The really interesting part is the addition on top: 2 solid brass stumps come out of the air duct cover and carry a mounted curved rail from solid brass. The idea is to be able to play the noseflute and slide (or tap) on an electric guitar simultaneously. Imagine the '70s parallel guitar solos... It originally was part of a mounted electric guitar over an electric keyboard, so as to be able to provide a 3-instrument sound, single-handedly and in real time. »

The "slide rail" gave its name to this improved flute : The Nose Slide.

« We soldered a brass tube --a genuine guitar 'slide'-- at first, but this rail proved to be far more accurate. Also, the rail does not obstruct your view while playing. Note that both ends of the rail have been rounded and polished, so that the edges do not interfere or slip away whilst sliding. »

Weird ? Absolutely! But quite an interesting piece of art!

Bocarinas at Dan Moi !

A new distributor for Chris Schuerman's Bocarinas, and the first in Europe : Dan Moi !
The South African nose flute continue to spread its domination all around the world, with its appearance (including the clay version) in the catalog of the German "World music instruments" online shop.

Now, the Bocarinas are available at :

Brionski Ebay store
Dan Moi online shop
Grothmusic online shop

Mar 16, 2012

Geert Leurink : a cool nose flute solo

Here is a great video — a real clip, I mean — of Harrie Kan Scatten, a Scat song by Geert Leurink and his friends, in which a neusfluit solo is performed at 1'47".
(Note that Geert Leurink plays an old green plastic Humanatone by Gretsch.)

You can buy this song on iTunes by clicking here and choosing the title #10

Mar 15, 2012

Maurilio Coelho : Pio de Nariz #25

Here is a video in which a tin plate nose flute is used as bird call, its original destination. The flute is coarsely made, but really looks like the pio de nariz #25 (the metal one) made by the brasilian Maurilio Coelho.

The Maurilio Coelho's bird call #25 is based on the German "Swan logo" shape :

Here is the #25 sound sample from Coelho's site, which is the soundtrack that was used for the first video :

And here is a video by LePetitJamon, using a pio de nariz #25 :


Fábrica de Pios de Aves "Maurilio Coelho" : website

Check our review of the #25.


A new Japanese nose flute association

The Hanshin Nose Flute Friends Japanese Association is born, dedicated to group nose flute players from the region between Osaka and Kobe. It's the fifth japanese organization, besides the already active Setagaya, Ise, Mount Fuji and Rikuzentakata Nose Flute Friends Japanese Associations.

The association has just started a blog, and we wish it a long and prosperous life full of nose flute activities!

The Hanshin Nose Flute Friends Japanese Association (original)
The Hanshin Nose Flute Friends Japanese Association (translated by Google...)

New business cards for On-lak flutes

New business cards with beautiful drawings by a friend of Tomioka Sachie, showing the "Nose flute Girls", playing the On-lak flutes, with their Okan (beer caps).

Mar 14, 2012

Another Humanatone box

Here is another Humanatone old box. The logo and typo correspond to the trade-mark that was renewed by James John Stivers on April 18, 1905 (45056, reg. Aug. 1, 1905) : a lion rampant, grabbing a tuplet of semiquavers, like playing an harp (check this post for more details).

The 2 other boxes we know and which were shown here, were the ones of what I assume to be a "Style 30" model for the oldest one, and of a "Style O." for the red one. This one was the case of a "STYLE No.20".

How many "styles" were issued? Which were they and to what did they correspond ?

The nose flute that was in the "lion box" still shows its beautiful tin coat and is of the "type A", the oldest one with the rounded air duct cover, and the rectangular flaps.


About metal Humanatones, check :

- Humanatone - part I : the metallic era
- New Humanatone ads
- The Two metal Humanatones
- Another metal Humanatone
- Humanatone boxes
- Another Humanatone box
- Humanatone: A very early user manual
- The Magic (Nose) Flute: only questions... .
- A Humanatone and clones chronology
- A Humanatone in 1892 ?
- Humanatone: Early promotional demos
- Another Humanatone archive
- Huma... something
- Rectification: Humanatone appearance date
- Great paper from 1903
- Nose Flute Pioneers: The Stivers - Part I
- Nose Flute Pioneers: The Stivers - Part II
- Nose Flute Pioneers: The Stivers - Part III
- Nose Flute Pioneers: The Stivers - Part IV
- Nose Flute Pioneers: The Stivers - Part V
- A Humanatone as a scientific tool
- Two other Humanatone Ads

And on later Humanatones :

- Humanatone - Part II : the Gretsch plastic era
- Humanatone - Part III : the Gretsch metal era


Mar 13, 2012

How to play nearly everything

Yesterday, I received a book. The weird thing is that I didn't order it; it was a gift, but with no mention of the generous donator. It's the first edition (1977) of « How To Play Nearly Everything », by Dallas Cline. It's a second hand book discarded from the Mead Public Library, Sheboygan, Wisconsin, and it came from Better World Books, which is a very interesting second hand books project.
Who sent it to me ? How this benefactor got my personal address ? Only mysteries... But he/she's probably a reader of this blog : please let you know! I want to thank you!

The book is a collection of articles dealing with 10 folk instruments that anyone can play, from the kazoo to the washboard... An article of 3 full pages, signed by Len Mac Eachron, is dedicated to the nose flute.

It begins with those words : « If you are a buff of murky history, the next few paragraphs are just your speed », and follow on the traditional nose flutes history and names (57 different ones according to Sybil Marcuse). Then, the paper goes on "How o find a nose flute", dealing with the « 35¢ or less even in these inflated times » plastic Humanatone.
The chapter "Playing the nose flute" is self-explanatory, and is followed by « Versatility of the nose flute », with some interesting references (Davis, Berry), that confirmed what we ever thought : the number of reachable octaves does not depend on the nose flute itself (contrarywise to what I read here and there...), but only to the player's buccal abilities.

The next chapter, « Thoughts on protecting your nose flute » is of no interest, only giving you the advice to use a box to protect your baby from the damage caused by sitting on it, but the last one, « Some final thoughts on the nose flute » exposes some good advices for shy or too serious (let's dare "anal retentive") beginners.

There were many editions of this book, and I do not know if the nose flute section evolved or not. Big thanks to my benefactor!

Mar 12, 2012

Dr. B. B. Bumstead's Musical Respirator !

I found a collector's item on Ebay : a bizarre white box printed in metallic red ink with these words « Dr. B. B. Bumstead's Humanatone Musical Respirator » and ornated with the drawing of a man playing the nose flute. In the box, a regular plastic humanatone and an user manual.

I was very intrigued, made some researches about the Dr. B. B. Bumstead and discovered it had been the stage name of Mr. Mark Osterman for years...
Mark Osterman and his wife France Scully, are internationally reknowned artists – or should I say "alchemists" – who produce incredible photographs on glass plates, made along a complex vintage process, and called ambrotypes. You can learn about their ambrotype process and see many samples on their website :

Before to be full time photographer, Mark Osterman used to be the showman Dr. Barnabus Barnabus Bumstead, and performed with K. T. Oakley (his wife France's stage name) and the (faux) indian Screaming Weasel, during 20 years touring across the USA. That was the "Dr. Bumstead's Celebrated Lenape Liquid Show" ! « The name Bumstead came from a patent medicine bottle well known by bottle collectors: Bumstead's Worm Syrup. The "BB" Bumstead is in reference to a dear man, now departed, who first taught me to play the ukulele and some of the greatest songs I ever knew. » « France was written into the show as K.T. Oakley, daughter of Annie Oakley, because when we met in 1990, she was bored with just watching the show over and over again. She has a very soft voice, but very funny body language; so her part evolved as all action....narrated by me. She also played fiddle, washboard, wash tub bass and did a solo on a 1" harmonica she used to sell at the end of the show. » « Regarding Screaming Weasel; ten different people played that part in the twenty years we performed. Most of them were teachers. Throughout the period we did the show I was a fine arts photography teacher at the George School, a private Quaker boarding and day school in Bucks County, Pennsylvania. The first "genuine Faux Indian" was my father, John Osterman. » The performance was a « medecine show », inspired by the original ones : « I did only primary research for my show...that's why it rang true, both visually and content. The best source is Billboard Magazine from the turn of the century to the mid-to-late thirties. There was a section called Pipes for Pitchmen in each issue. This was a "letterbox" for traveling pitchmen. There are all kinds of descriptions of shows written by those who performed them at that time, also references to larger articles whenever they bragged about the press they received » « I was hard core for history. Everything was done in the fashion of the appropriate period. The Model T version evolved into a early 1930s vintage show as we did use an early amp and spring suspended microphone. » During the show, Dr. Busmstead was used to laud the merits of different products which were sold to the public at the end. « The show was made up of many four minute routines, which could be plugged in at any time depending on the sense of the audience. In between the bits we would play popular music from the early thirties with the audience. In the beginning of the show we instructed four people to play instruments whenever we pointed at them. These instruments were a duck call, a car horn, a drum and a pair of cymbals. During the musical numbers (...) if they played well and in time, it was amazing; if they played poorly, it was very humorous. A win-win situation! » « The main product was called Lenape Liquid but we also sold tin Kazoos and Humanatone Nose Flutes as well. Our ballyhoo was an electrical galvanic battery with which we shocked the children. We could get a line of about twenty people to hold hands and shock them all...once we got them that close to the stage we established the first row. The others would fill in during the musical part of the program, then we would start the pitch. I played banjo, my assistant played wash tub base or tuba, and my wife, who also did Anne Oakley-style trick shooting, played washboard. »
From 1987 and until the last show in 1999, Dr. Bumstead sold Humanatones nose flutes, with the slogan "If you have a nose and a mouth and a working knowledge of how to use them, you can play the Humanatone." « In those days, Humanatone Nose Flutes were sold loose in a glass jar on the counters of music stores. If you didn't know what a Humanatone Nose Flute didn't buy one. I designed a box and set of instructions and sold them after demonstrating them in the show. We taught some kids how to play them as soon as we arrived at a location, and they would play them all day long, bringing new customers to the stage for every show. » « In between shows we would do 1920s-30s music from the comfort of the back stage through our old sound system. People thought they were old recordings. Then we would enlist kids to put together the selling stock for the next show...assembling boxes and filling them with Humanatone Nose Flutes. We would always give any kid who helped a free Humanatone Nose Flute...and they would play them all over the festival... which brought more sales. » « The key to selling them was playing them well during the performance and giving several away to children in the morning when we were setting up the stage and getting the show ready. Those kids would play them all over the fair grounds advertising the show. Ours came with written instructions and a moneyback guarantee..."tripple your money back..just bring the instrument unused to the place of purchase, one year after the purchase date." (...) We often broke the plastic ones on stage on purpose assuring the parents with children on a long trip home that the best feature of the Humanatone was that they actually were breakable! » For the whole detailed description of the show, and for many pictures of it, please check « The one illustrated is a white box with metallic foil stamped design and red instructions. I designed the box [that is a very young me on the cover] and wrote the instructions. I used white glazed and also natural brown cardboard for the boxes. The die stamping was in either metallic red foil or a red ink. I did the mechanicals for the instructions and originally printed them myself using an offset litho press. The first instructions were in red and black two runs through the press. The second run was just red ink. Toward the end of the show I got lazy and just made black copies using a Xerox machine. » Mark Osterman kindly accepted to answer some of our questions :
- What was the idea behind your "musical respirator" ?
- Yes, my show was a "medicine" show, so I wrote the sales pitch for the Humanatone as a musical respirator. :-)
- In what year did you begin with the Humanatone, and for how much time ?
- I think we first started selling them around 1987 and sold them until the last show which was in 1999.
- How many had you made with their boxes  ?
- We didn't make them. We bought the Humanatone from the manufacturer by the gross. [144 per box] At the height of our show we sold more Humanatone nose flutes and Kazoo trombones than any other retail store in the world. We sold countless numbers of both as well as our "medicine."
- How much did you sell them ?
- We sold them for $2..but we sold hundreds at a show. The box cost 20 cents and the nose flute about 30 cents. I printed the instructions at the school where I was working so that was not an expense.
- You performed during twenty years : from when to when ?
- I started the show around 1978-9 and the last show was 1999. I originally had a horse drawn wagon for the "high pitch." Then I built the Model T Ford with the fold out stage. I also had a "walk around" show [called a low pitch] with a sales box that opens up for display. Had three different versions of the sales box. One was specifically for the nose flute. And finally, I also had a 1933 Plymouth Rumble Seat Coupe. In this the rumble seat opened up and a folding podium popped up. I stood in the seat area facing the back of the car and performed from there. This selling platform was designed for selling either Humanatones or Kazoos depending on the canvas sign and the apparatus for hold the merchandise. I got this idea from a magazine from 1933 called Billboard. It is still published today for the entertainment industry. I saw an article about two men who sold nose flutes at the Chicago Worlds Fair from the back of a 1933 Plymouth! I had the very same type and year car and I was already selling nose flutes! I had no choice. :-) --- Links : Dr. The Bumstead's Celebrated Lenape Liquid Show - description The Dr. Bumstead's Celebrated Lenape Liquid Show - pictures, the official Mark Osterman & France Scully's website Mark Osterman on Facebook

Mar 11, 2012

Video : The Turkish March by Mosurin

We previously embedded a recording by Master Mosurin of this Mozart piece, but Mosurin told us it was still a work-in-progress recording. Now, he made a public live video... stunning and awesome!

To put on your agenda : the Japanese radio NHK R1 will broadcast tomorrow (3/12) a program dedicated to the nose flute, with Mosurin as guest. It is scheduled at 8PM, Japan time.