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.

Jul 7, 2012

A new video by the Nasalette's

Well, everything's in the subject line.

About the "Swan logo"... Part III

(sequel of the posts About the "Swan logo"... Part I and Part II)


Dating a Swan nose flute ?

In the previous part, we saw there were 2 models of Swan : the vintage german one, and the new chinese model. But here a problem occurs : Mr. Mei bought a Swan in 1994, which should have been a NOS (new old stock) german one, since the chinese production is supposed to have been launched in 1997 only. It should even date from before 1985 (or so), since the german production was stopped then. Now, this Swan flute shows the oblique labium... and altogether the salient round stigmata! It is also made in the german plastic type.

So, there were at least 3 moulds : the original german one, an intermediate one, and the chinese one. On the first 2 shapes, the "round stigmata" are salient, but the labium is parallel only on the very first one. More, the nose saddles are all three different : the first one is smooth and plain, the intermediate shows a "tiny round depression" and the third one is torn by the inclusion of the airway, and presents a "left tear-shape hole".
The years mentioned on the pictures refer to the purchase date, and not the change of moulds :

One sample is very interesting : the "Nekami" Swan from Piet Visser's collection.

Why is it so interesting? because Nekami was a dutch company founded in 1938 and absorbed by the chemical Carmeuse company in 1980. So, we can assume that the flute was probably produced before that date. And, thanks to Mr. Mei who took the picture when he visited Mr. Visser, we can see it is of the "intermediate shape", that is, it shows the "tiny round depression" on the nose saddle.

Well, let's try a recap :

1958 : launch of Swan [edit : actually 1955]
1980 : latest possible date for changing to intermediate shape
±1985 : stop of the german production
±1997 : launch of the chinese production.


- parallel Labium : before 1980
- salient round stigmata : 1958-85
- consistent smooth nose saddle : before 1980
- tiny round depression : before 1985
- tear-shape hole : 1997-now

Now, let's go for some practice :

My mustard-carrot is clearly an intermediate model : it's a late german nose flute, dating from before 1985. But I cannot tell more.


The "Swan logo" nose flute is, as an "historical object", more complex than it appears at first glance. Two series (moulds) were issued in Germany between 1958 and 1985, but it is (at this very moment) impossible for me to know when the switch to the intermediate shape happened (before 1980, but when? 1970s?).
Many questions still require their answers : Which german company was the Swan producer? Which chinese company is the current maker? What are the effective dates? Is there a difference in thickness/weight between the genuine and the intermediate models (I don't own any 1960s one, so I can't compare...)? ...

                                          << Read Part I       << Read Part II


On the same topic :

- About the "Swan logo"... Part I
- About the "Swan logo"... Part II
- About the "Swan logo"... Part III
- "Swan logo"... Identity revealed!
- Much more about the Swan!
- Schwan Special Colors
- Vintage Schwan - Forensics and Dating


Jul 6, 2012

A very cool video!

Don't miss it: it's a great video! Mr CaptainUkeHandles — you know, Jas Ingram who made this baseball recording - just made another great video with his Bocarina! Not the same style, here it's not "improvised" and there was much work on it. The result is fantastic and very funny!

About the "Swan logo"... Part II

(sequel of the post About the "Swan logo"... Part I)


Now, are there differences between early Swan and the current production? MANY !!

Color and Plastic

At a first quick glance, everybody can see that the color range is absolutely not the same. Pastel (mixed with white) or tertiary colors were used at the beginnings, contrarywise to the current production which offers only "pure colors" (mix of a maximum of 2 primary colors).

Let's admire the Piet Visser's collection :

Piet Visser's collection photo by Maikel Mei.

Another obvious difference is the use of another kind of plastic. The old one was a bit dull and the new one is shiny. But the current one is also a little bit translucent, and seems more fragile regarding tiny scratches.

Now, if you take the time for a closer look, there are many other differences between the german and the chinese Swans...

Weight and Thickness

The old Swans were heavier than the new ones. I made the test with a precision scale (7.42 vs 7.12 grams):

OK, is this a difference in the plastic density? To find the answer, I measured the thickness of both flutes, at the exact same place, with a Palmer (1.40mm vs 1.35mm):

You could even argue that the 2 plastics shrink differently after injection...

... but the wideness is exactly the same (4.95mm), so difference does not come from the plastic itself! So, we can state that the moulds are not the same, and that the new model is lighter because it is made of less material. It is thinner.

Production stigmata

So, were there 2 different types of Swan flutes : the german oldies and the chinese new ones? No... things are a bit more complex again...

It is true that it is very easy to establish if a Swan is german of chinese. Besides the weight/thickness and type of plastic, the moulds were not the exactly the same, and some details are conclusive. For instance, the pair of round artefact which appear on the front of the mouth shield. On the old version, they are clearly salient, and almost flat or even a bit depressed on the chinese Swan :

There are two other noticeable differences : the labium of the vintage flute is regular, and the new one is very irregular, with a systematic oblique bevel. More, the chinese nose saddle always presents a little hole at the place where the airway cover was plugged, whilst the original german model nose rest has its full integrity.

Finally, if we compare the thin details on both series, it becomes obvious that the german produced flutes were the result of a much more precise mould. But when you look at those details, they exactly match, despite the difference in finesse.
On these images, the chinese model is on the left, german one on the right. The last pair of images show superpositions of the drawings :

What does it mean? Was the chinese mould made directly "on" a german Swan? In this case, how to explain the difference of the plastic thickness between the 2 models, and particularly the fact that the new model is thinner: taking the direct imprint would more probably lead to an equal or a bit thicker result. Indeed, the drawings got thicker, and in this case how to explain that the body is thinner ?

So, I assume the chinese mould was not made by direct imprint, but more probably with a pantograph or another "copy machine".

                                          << Read Part I       Read Part III >>


On the same topic :

- About the "Swan logo"... Part I
- About the "Swan logo"... Part II
- About the "Swan logo"... Part III
- "Swan logo"... Identity revealed!
- Much more about the Swan!
- Schwan Special Colors
- Vintage Schwan - Forensics and Dating


Jul 5, 2012

About the "Swan logo"... Part I

The second most produced nose flute in the world, just after the plastic Humanatone, is indoubtedly this german two color plastic Nasenflöte. Weird : we don't even know its name! It wears a trade-mark logo with a swan, and thus, it is used to be called "swan logo" among noseflutists. Who designed it? Which factory produces it? What is its history? Has it been the same from its beginnings until now? When did the production started? Many questions, and very few answers...

According to Piet Visser, the Swan was issued in 1958 [edit : actually in 1955], produced by a german factory. It could have had the Simmy nose flute as an ancestor, but there is no evidence on that point (we even do not know if the Simmy really is german...) [check this and this posts on this topic].

Is that all? First, let's make a tour, a sightseeing tour. We all know the current production of bright two colored Swans, one for the body, and another for the airway cover. But there are some rare samples, denying this too simple statement.

Look at this beautiful vintage "mustard and rust" colored one, traded from Bernard Visser collection. Not really flashy colors, aren't they? When does it date from? :

Stranger, those translucent body models :

And the weirdest, but probably most beautiful, this marbleized sample from Maikel Mel collection :

So, we can see that the Swan Nasenflöte is not so simple it could have appeared at first glance.

Mr. Mei, who was used to ask for and buy nose flutes in dutch music shops in the 90s, and who took the time to call distributors, has been able to trace the large lines of a Swan history.

- The Simmy was released in 1952 (Piet Visser)
- The Swan was released in 1958 (Piet Visser), in 1955 (check this post) produced in Germany.
- The production stopped around 1985 (M. Mei's contacts with distributors)
- The production restarted in 1997-98 ... in China! (M. Mei's contacts). 
  (This is also the date when Mr. Mei bought his translucent nose flute,
    but the second model was bought in Germany in 2011...)

As incredible as it is, the current Swan, stamped with "Made in Germany" has been a chinese product since 1997 !

                                          Read Part II >>


On the same topic :

- About the "Swan logo"... Part I
- About the "Swan logo"... Part II
- About the "Swan logo"... Part III
- "Swan logo"... Identity revealed!
- Much more about the Swan!
- Schwan Special Colors
- Vintage Schwan - Forensics and Dating


Hacked Whistle, the sequel!

My post explaining how to hack a regular whistle to transform it into a nose flute seems to have germinated and made some followers (cool!!). And both used a yellow whistle :)

Don Luis, amateur nose flute maker, took a referee one, and made a video :

Shuen Ping Chiou, aka YW, modified also a yellow plastic whistle, but, as he stated, he was « a little shy to put it in [his] nose. So [he] did a little bit of change ». Indeed, he used hot glue to form an ergonomic nose saddle.

Jul 4, 2012

The Canadian Bocarina!

Jean-François Lapierre, aka Shalalaszwee, the canadian musician we presented here, had a good idea : ordering Bocarinas on demand, marked with a serigraphed maple leaf flag.

Mr. Chris Schuermans, creator and designer of the Bocarina, based in Pretoria, South Africa, made a 3D model that was accepted, and the production has been launched. They are cureently on their way to Ottawa, where they will be sold exclusively at the Byward Market.

This is the beginning of a new era : Branded Bocarinas! And thus, series of collectors :)

News from Japan

Nose flute creativity is pulsating in Japan these days! We just presented the new designs by Mr. Kunio Katada and the elegant nose flute holders by Miss Sanae Maekawa. Here are other hot news from the japanese creation!

Miss Kanae Miyazaki has created new shapes for her birdy nose flutes :

She also just created 2 cases for the Okan-Khamen pharaoh : a stunning little sarcophagus, and funny hanging basket-nest :

On his side, Sensei Mosurin published on his Facebook page two picture showing incredible fancy nose flutes by Poppokopī :

Jul 3, 2012

Make your own brass nose flute in 15 mn!

Inspired by the experiments Hiroshi Tachibana made with a recorder (check this post), I decided to try something with a regular whistle. It is a success, and it took me less than a quarter of an hour!

I just took a regular brass whistle and filed it with a half-round file. Then, when the hole was done, I buffed the edges. Done!

Here is a sound sample : the sound is a bit "windy" because the labium window is wide, but the instrument is funny and really playable :

And here a video, for your amusement :


Elegant Japanese holders

We've recently presented the WIP (work-in-progress) yet radical nose flute stand imagined by Mr. Takuma Ikeyama.
Here are 2 3 very elegant versions of hanabue holders, made by Miss Sanae Maekawa. As stated by her, the second one uses a Tenugui (手拭), which is the traditional Japanese cotton towel : it is sometines used as a headband or head cover in Kendo.

[Addition : the pretty Miss Sanae wearing a Kimono, and a 3rd version of holder]

Jul 2, 2012

Bocarina painting by Maikel Mei

A new painting by Mr. Mei. Bright colors and a kind of primitive-symbolic message ?

« Last week I was presented with an 'oilbar' sample, which is a new type of artist's medium. It allows you to draw with oil paint in the shape of pastel chalk, which you can even work with your hands. The canvas that I had covered with a texture of the ultramarine oil bar had more or less dried, I decided to give it a try: I used yellow and red fingerpaint alone which I pasted on with my fingers. After working the paint into the textured underlayer and into each other, I used my nails to scratch into the paint in order to make it look a little more 'rocky'. The hand and the Bocarina in the picture are exactly the right size, as they are prints of the original. »

« The painting really is an experiment, because I wanted to see if I could combine both types of paint and create some sort of naive, direct 'cave art' without any brush. I had already planned to do something with the bocarina model and thankfully, I received a bocarina yesterday! I had been triggered by the Nosy Diva asking if I would create something around this South African nose flute, but mostly by UkeHeidi's photo-combinations comparing nose flutes and cars. »


On the same topic :

- Beautiful drawings by Maikel Mei
- Nose flute paintings by Maikel Mei
- Maikel Mei's new paintings
- Bocarina painting by Maikel Mei

- Mei's History of Art - Series 1: Rock Cave Art


Video : Nerd nose flute

A video from Scotland, with ukulele and nose flute. Mr. James Raymond, a left-handed self-called "Creative Nerd" (have a look at his t-shirt), plays a wooden nose flute that I assume made by Martina Sommer (check this post). It's a pity the uke sound is saturated, since the nose flute playing is nice and fresh!

A Humanatone copy from 1997

Maikel Mei generously sent us a lot of plastic nose flutes made in China. These are Humanatone copies in very bright colors, which appeared in 1997 (check the end of this post). Bright colors, indeed, with very interesting shades, notably ranging from orange to pink.

Yes, this is a copy, and no brand or text appears on the nose flute (for sure no patent references), except "Made in China". This is the only detail that keeps from calling it a total forgery. Indeed, if you check a Hum-a-Tune from the end of the 60s, you can see a Humanatone copy, but some differences : no "true tremolo" hole, no heel at the bottom of the mouth shield... In this case, this is a real copy : exact same shape, same dimensions, same details, same angle of the nose scoop...

Even the printed wrapping is an "interpretation" very inspired by the original : Yes, the drawing has been "re-drawn", the brand name has disappeared, but the text and his typesettings are absolutely identical.

Well, there some differences. First, as we told before, no text or patent mentions appear on the flute, except "Made in China". But there are other ones.
The most obvious is the quality of the plastic material that has been use in the injection. The genuine Humanatone one is a bit soft (PVC?), and the chinese spin-off one is much more breakable. With this plastic, some moulding stigmata were left on the air duct cover :

But the easiest way to make you feel the difference in the plastic is a recording : first, you can hear a genuine Humanatone falling on my desk. Then the chinese copy, dropped the same way (but I had to amplify the original Humanatone recording), then followed by a scale played on each (I must admit I prefer the chinese copy sound (2nd scale), a bit less "windy"):

Another difference lays in the quality of production. The chinese "Hum" has been made with no care, and the bottom of the mouth shield is rather "worn". Is it because the Humanatone was directly copied by moulding it ?


On a similar topic :

- Hum-a-Tune : a vintage low grade copy
- Hum-a-Tune : different colors
- Bullwinkle's Hum-a-Tune and Humanatone
- Humanatone copy from 1997