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 19, 2014

Nose Flute on the Bellowphone!

Found by our friend and high class guitarist-ukulelist Herman Vandecauter, the video of this incredible instrument, the Majestic Bellowphone. In this video, its inventor, Mr. Leonard Solomon (see this article), plays the Hungarian Dance by Johannes Brahms, and whistles some notes on a purple Humanatone: at 0'51 and at 1'51.

Sep 18, 2014

The Amazing Nose Flute

In 2005 (October 1), the Amazing Nose Flute was launched by Andrews McMeel Publishing. It was a little box containing a nose flute, a small book, 4 cards and a card holder, well designed with funny graphics. It was sold $6.99 in the USA, but apparently available in any country of the Commonwealth too. It should have met some commercial success, since it went out of stock, and the samples findable here and there (Amazon dealers) nowadays are very pricey (kind of $50 or more!).

The graphics design is pleasantThe nose flute itself is a simple Humanatone by Trophy Music, packed in its regular blister and so, no need to say more about it. The four cards are supposed to work as basic music sheets, with staff and notes on one side, and the song lyrics on the other. The songs are Shenandoah, Oh Susanna!, On Top of Old Smoky and Take Me Out to the Ball Game.

The book is a small 32 pages (+ cover) paperback booklet, with great illustrations. It contains a nose flute user manual (including troubleshooting section!), advices, anecdotes (gentle mixes of "urban" and "traditional" nose flutes) and... history facts.

The scanned pages that follow are copyrighted by Andrews McMeel Publishing. Their publication here is made on an informative purpose (book review and critics), and with no intention of infringement.
The booklet is pleasant, funny and well done. However, one page (P24) made me jump on my chair because I had dropped some hot tea on my pants!

So much nonsense per square inch! How could some redactor have written that ??

We know that the name Humanatone already existed in 1894 (even before), that plastic nose flutes appeared in the 1925s (the Humanaphone made in celluloid), that the shape of the plastic Humanatone was patented in 1940 (only) by Ernest Davis, that those plastic Humanatones were issued by Gretsch in 1943, and that the Humanatone nose flutes were launched probably by Garrett J. Couchois (who used the brand name), but surely then by the Stivers' Humanatone Introducing Novelty Co., who registered their brand in 1904, then 1905 (which had been "continuously used in [their] business since July 6th, 1903".

So, how could someone have written that ? : lazyness. Yes, "the rest is history", because this was not.

Indeed, there was a company which produced a "talking machine" (phonograph) called Humanatone, and which published its first advertisement in 1917 in the World of Talking Machines. Yes, the company was settled in New York (Brooklyn, actually). But it had nothing to see with the Stivers. The same "brand name", but not the same "trade-mark". And why would someone use the same name without using the same logo? Either you want to get the benefit of a reknown brand and you use both, or you don't and use none. If James J. Stivers had founded a talking machine company with the famous tin nose flute name, he would have used the regular Humanatone logo, designed by his brother George. Last, the Stivers weren't implanted in Brooklyn in 1917, but Ann St., Manhattan downtown.

OK, nobody knew those facts before researches, but when I don't know, I stay mute.

Please, Mr. McMeel, if you ever publish a second edition, please change this page 24!

Sep 16, 2014

Thai Nose Flute Holder

Here is a video by a Thai musician, Worreapuek. The recording quality is low, but the song Letters to the Father ("จดหมายถึงพ่อ ฟุตบาท ทรีโอ") is beautiful. The original song is from a Thai family band named Footpathband (here is the original version). Worreapuek plays the guitar and sings very well, although there's still a good room for improving the nose flute part (starting at 1'58, but mainly played from 3'20 and 5'14).

The presentation of the nose flute, at the beginning of the video, is very interesting. I don't know whether Worreapuek built his wooden nose flute (ขลุ่ยจมูก) by himself or if he had it from a craftsman, but it's a unique piece: It has got a kind of long nose (a bit like Mosurin's "Pinocchio" nose flute), devoted to and shaped for being plugged to a standard microphone stand.

This very clever idea could be used for designing a nosey nose flute, at the same time with a funny human face and easily held on stage (a mix of this Thai flute and the Mosurin's one)...

And the video:

Sep 15, 2014

Other Humanatone Ads from Popular Mechanics

We previously posted an article about the advertisement campaign that the Johnson Smith Co. launched in Popular Mechanics (we were interested in the pages including a Magic (Nose) Flute or Humanatone).
But during those years, the Johnson Smith company was not the only novelty mail-order company to advertise for the Humanatone. Indeed, I found 3 other competitors selling the tin nose flute through Popular Mechanics.

Oaks Magical Co.

The Oaks Magical Co. was settled in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, and was selling novelties, gadgets and magic tricks, exactly as Johnson Smith. It was founded (1913) and run by the magician John H. Oaks (1889-1918), known as "The Mighty Oaks, the Handcuff King", and by his family after his death.

In the following ad, note that the text is very similar (if not identical) to the Johnson Smith text: it was coming from the Humanatone Co. itself. The illustration is the "clogged" version, the ones without visible stampings, as it appears from Nov. 1928 in the Johnson Smith ads, meaning this modification probably came directly from the Humanatone Co.

October, November and December 1929 Oaks Magical Co. advertisement

Scientific Novelty Co.

The Scientific Novelty Co. was based in Greenwich, New York, and was specialized in optical and electric novelties and gadgets. Again, the text of their ad is a rewritten version of the "official" one. Here, the nose flute is called Humanatone (and not "Magic (Nose) Flute"). The engraving is different from J.S. and Oaks. I don't know where it came from (a music instrument catalog? which one?), but not from the Humanatone Co., as far as I know. Could it be possible it was original? (I doubt of it).

November 1929 Scientific Novelty Co. advertisement

Heaney Magic Co.

As Johnson Smith and Oaks Magical, the Heaney Magic Co. was base in Wisconsin (Berlin). As Oaks, it was specialized in magic tricks and novelties. It was founded by Gerald Heaney, a magician known as "Heaney the Great". It is very interesting that the catalog pages are hand written and the illustration drawn (see the full page below). The Humanatone advertisement illustration are reinterpretations of the engravings printed on the Humanatone user manual. The price, 20c. in 1924, is 5c lower than in Johnson Smith ads.

February 1924 Heaney Magic Co. advertisement


Scientific Novelty Co. and Heaney Magic Co. pages in Popular Mechanics