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.

Sep 1, 2012

Japan News !

I left for 2 weeks of holidays, but when I cam e back, I had to admit Japan had not been lazy at all! Just take a look at this gorgeous crop of videos... Friends or noseflutits we already know, but also newcomers on the nosey scene.

Master Mosurin, with several new videos with his famous Sasaki hanabue :

Mister Kunio Katada himself, the famous nose flute maker, playing his hanabue (video on the Askitdeki channel):

Hanabue 114, who continues to break the record of nose flute videos (160 since december!) and who traveled to Sounyan, but also accompanied a singer with a jazzy orchestra in a restaurant :

Mr. Hiroshi Tachibana, aka tcbnhrs, recorded a live and very interesting version of the Super Mario theme, with his shakuhachi and a Bocarina :

But Hiroshi also climbed the holy Mount Fuji with some Bocarinas and recorded the Great Gig in the Sky, by the Pink Floyd, and took some historic pictures!

Shownoseflute appears to have performed a concert-presentation of hanabue :

And one can see him also with his friends of the Hanabue Hansin organization, for a collective performance :

But other Japanese videos were published during this period of time, such this incredible Flamenco on the Venvenyoshing channel :

Or this funny duet on Mikiyasu888 Youtube page :

The creation(?) of The Humanatones, a punk-rock hanabue band which concept looks strangely similar to the Original Oberkreuzberger Nasenflötenorchester

But the biggest surprise came by the videos from an electro-hip-hop band, found on smgfnk and akihabaraBANKINYA channels (and performing as a demonstrators for some electronic devices) :

Nose flute at 7'06" :

Aug 31, 2012

Nose Flute Pioneers: Ernest W. Davis - Part I

With the "Nose Flute Pioneers" series, enters a little cycle of research. I hope it won't be too arid for a blog, but I really think that the facts I found have to be published. The sources : Google patents, US Census and an access to newspaper archives. But also, depending on the topic, correspondence by e-mail with descendants. Let's better say : internet searching tools available for a Frenchie not able to access US real paper archives.


Nose Flute Pioneers: Ernest Davis

What is the link between these 4 items ?

No idea? ... : Ernest W. Davis ! Yes, the father of most famous nose flute in the world, the plastic Humanatone, invented in 1939/40, has not been a "one shot" designer.
But who knows more about Davis? A so common name that it is very difficult to make researches about him, and since he was not famous... But I decided to focus many efforts in trying to know him better.

Patents : Ernest Davis' career

Ernest W. Davis applied for no less than 132 patents! And maybe more, since I found the trace of some others, out of Google search. Extremely prolific : 8 in 1924, 10 in 1925, 6 in 1926... and so on. From 1910 until 1949 (the last I found), Davis didn't stop filing patents, the most of them as assignor to big Chicago companies, but some in his own name, at his beginnings, and mostly after WWII.

Ernest's occupation name evolved in the time : On the 1910 census sheet, one can read "Mechanic (for a) Wire Chain(?) Co.", then "Mechanical Engineer" in "Auto(mobile) Access(ories)" in 1920, "Engineer" in "Experimental" business in 1930 and "Research Engineer" for a "Radio Manufacture" (we'll see it was Stewart-Warner, also auto accessory producer) in 1940.

From the patents, it becomes obvious that Ernest W. Davis was an engineer who specialized in lubricating systems : 118 among those 132 sets of innovations regard lubricant compressors, lubricating systems, lubricating means, grease dispensing apparati, a pneumatic motor for lubricant pumps,... and a few couplings, liquid dispensers, etc. Those devices were used mostly in car industry maintenance.

Now, the patents allow to trace Davis through his different jobs.

From 1910 to 1919, Ernest works in Chicago. The first years, he applies for some very personal patents, besides another job I wasn't able to identify (we know he is Mechanic in a Wire Chain(?) company, according to 1910 census). His first patents wear 2 following numbers (US1004382 & US1004383), but were filed on September 3 and on October 22, 1910.

The first one is a moving picture device which is a toy for kids with a ingenious system used to block an image, using the persistence of vision. The second one is an automatic electric switch dedicated to devices such as flashes. Then, in January 1911, Davis files a patent (US1014953) for an aerial toy : it is a small manual "helicopter".

Fun and serious! Engineering and entertainement! It is like Davis was destined to design a nose flute 30 years later...

From more or less 1917, armed with his cinema-related inventions, Ernest is employed at The Universal Camera and then for Burke & James Inc., 240-258 E Ontario Street. Burke & James was founded in 1897 and described themselves as manufacturers and representatives to the trade.

The Universal Camera is a "moving photography" device, developed and built by Burke & James, and dedicated to outdoor filming. It was used by ethnological expeditions for instance, but also as second camera in Hollywood.

For this camera, Ernest Davis filed 5 patents, and clearly is the inventor of the Universal Camera (patent US145433), and of some of its options or accessories, notably a focusing device, a turntable support (rotative tripod) and a very innovative dissolving apparatus that allows to produce image fadings.

In 1920, Ernest began at Bassick Manufacturing Co., then joined Alemite in 1924, then Stewart-Warner in 1934, which all were parts of the same conglomerate. Bassick had bought the Alemite Lubricator Co. after WWI to form Bassick-Alemite, specialized in high-pressure auto lubrication equipment, and in 1924, Stewart-Warner, manufacturer of vehicle instruments (and radios, refrigerators,...), bought Bassick-Alemite. The manufacture was established on Diversey Parkway.

For those companies, during 23 years until 1943 (this means the plastic Humanatone was conceived during this period), Davis conceived dozens of improvements on existing lubricating devices, and designed many new ones, from the smallest oil gun to the largest equipment.

But, sometimes, Ernest W. files a patent "for himself", besides his regular job.

In 1928, he applies for an improvement upon the safety razor, in order to prevent rust formation : « The operation of successfully drying a safety razor involves disassembling the entire razor, drying each part separately and the re-assembling. (...) I employ a substance that is electro-positive to the steel blade, and in electrical contact therewith, whereby a weal current of electricity is generated (...) with with any water remaining on the blade after using. »

In 1937, Ernest Davis invents a musical instrument, a kind of electric keyboard with an electric oscillator driven by moving a finger on a rail. This device is very interesting on 2 particular points : First, it's really the ancestor of the Stylophone, which was patented in 1968 in London by Brian Claude Jarvis, with no claim of Davis' invention (!!), and which, 31 years later was just a bit smaller and had replaced the finger by a stylus.

But more important for us, nose flute lovers, is the goal pursued by Davis because, despite the hand playing and the sound source radically different from a nose flute, the instrument tries to regulate 2 parameters (pitch/volume) with one "move" :

The next year, in 1938, Davis applies for a patent of a boad game! It is composed of an hexagonal board, a "spinner", 2 x 24 cards and tokens. The rules are a bit complex...

On January 22, 1940, Davis files... a "musical instrument" that will become the famous Humanatone, with its "true tremolo" hole [check this post]. And, funny coincidence, the Time Magazine issue dated of the very same day shows Siegfried blowing his horn.

And, in 1941, it's the turn of an "acoustical device", including a transmitter, an amplifier and a loud speaker, designed to produce a "sound effect derived from a single sound" "choral effect"...

From 1943, Davis multiplied "personal" patents, *serious ones*, for improvements upon lubricating devices. It seems that he has stopped working for Stewart-Warner and has established as a free-lance inventor until 1948. But he filed absolutely no patent between September 22, 1943 and June 15, 1945 (8 were filed in 1943, and 6 in 1945). We can assume that Ernest (who was around 62 years old in 1944) was recruited or applied as an engineer for the US army hereafter involved in WWII. This could be the reason of his resignation from Stewart-Warner Co. (which converted to war production, though).

Finally, in 1948 and 1949, Ernest Davis files 2 last(?) patents as an assignor to, respectively, Oil Rite Corp. and Gits Brothers Mfg. Co.
Ernest was 67, and probably opted then for a well-deserved retirement.

To be continued...


On the same topic :

- Nose Flute Pioneers: William G. Carter - Part I
- Nose Flute Pioneers: William G. Carter - Part II
- Nose Flute Pioneers: William G. Carter - Part III
- Nose Flute Pioneers: Ernest W. Davis - Part I
- Nose Flute Pioneers: Ernest W. Davis - Part II
- Nose Flute Pioneers: Nelson Ronsheim
- Nose Flute Pioneers: Garrett J. Couchois


Aug 29, 2012

NF.Org Holidays - Part V : Baglamas and Nose Flute

As a conclusion for this tour of the holidays, I also recorded a "World premiere" performance : a baglamas/nose flute tune. The baglamas is a greek stringed instrument. It's a kinf of "half bouzouki" (the neck is half long and the tuning at the octave), but with a much smaller body.
Mine was built by the master luthier Ioannis Alexandris, in Thessaloniki, Greece, in 2002.

NF.Org Holidays - Part IV : The Nosy Diva's Holidays

Nosy Diva's holidays were very noseflutistic! Indeed, before and after the Pied-Pouzin RAOUL gathering, she traveled in France, from historic sites to touristic places, recording here and there short nose flute melodies.

In Pied-Pouzin, with Luthval, she worked at a World premiere : a duet with Lute, violin and nose flute!

And then, the Diva offered a spontaneous performance in the garden, before a very attentive audience. Her Queen of the Night aria was a real success!

Later, in Normandy, she played the Badinerie, by J.-S. Bach, with her ukulele :

But the Diva's holidays have also been very pedagogic, even proselytistic. As you may know, the Nosy Diva's mission on earth is to spread the nose flute virus... And she did well, at Pied Pouzin, and then, in Normandy :

NF.Org Holidays - Part III : Our video clip

One of the highlights of the RAOUL gathering in Pied Pouzin was the recording of "30 millions d'Amis" in Ukeval's farm. A real cacophony, but quite a funny moment.