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 25, 2014

Another Transitional Humanatone

We recently published the pictures of a very early Gretsch plastic Humanatone, which appeared to be a transitional product between the famous metal nose flute and the plastic model designed by Ernest Davis (please check this post). Here is the other end of the Gretsch era: another transitional Humanatone.

Indeed, the instrument is (still) branded by Gretsch, but the user manual is printed by Trophy Music Co. So, we can state that Trophy bought from Gretsch not only the brand and moulds, but also the current stock, exactly as Gretsch had done some ±25 years before with the Humanatone Co. products. This instrument is one one the last Gretsch nose flutes.

Sep 23, 2014

Stereo Total - Tour de France

Stereo Total is a German-French electro-pop-punk duo based in Berlin, Germany, comprising Françoise Cactus and Brezel Göring. The band was formed in 1995, and has released 15 albums (13 CD) since.

In their 2010 album Baby Ouh!, the Original Oberkreuzberger Nasenflötenorchester appeared as guest star on one tune: Tour de France. Indeed, this funny and joyful song about the famous french bicycle competition includes a nice choir of nose flutes playing between the verses. It is a Kraftwerk cover (I personally prefer this cover to the original...)

You can listen to an excerpt of Tour de France (and of the other Baby Ouh! CD songs) on this page. However, if you have iTunes installed on your computer, I suggest you click on the link at the right of the line in this page, in order to be able to listen to a much longer (1'30) excerpt.

You can buy the song on iTunes, or the physical CD Baby Ouh! at this webshop.


[EDIT] : Our friend Hiroshi Tachibana found this video (not official, but song in full...):

Sep 22, 2014

Psychedelic Hanabue

A psychedelic hanabue! Mr. Fumitaka Hamachi, Japanese nose flute amateur from Tsu (Mie), has given one of his nose flutes (by Mr. Ikeyama?) to the good care of Mami Funahashi, a painter of his acquaintances. Here is the beautiful and psychedelic result:

Sep 21, 2014

Nose Flute Physics - I

In june 2003, the Wright Center for Innovative Science Education, department of Tufts University (Medford, Massachusetts) published a book by David R Lapp, ant entitled The Physics of Music and Musical Instruments.

Mr. David Lapp is a Physics teacher who is the author of many Physics and Education publications (see here).

The Physics of Music and Musical Instruments is a 119 pages PDF book (download it here) with 7 chapters, among them one is dedicated to Aerophones (wind instruments). Those 24 pages are obviouly mostly devoted to the study of vibrations, air flow, sound waves, differences between open and closed pipes, providing the right equations for each type of instrument. The chapters include exercises and are ended by one or more "Investigation" sections. One of those, in the Aerophone chapter, is devoted to the nose flute.

The Nose Flute Investigation part begins with a presentation of our beloved instrument (represented here by a Trophy Humanatone specimen), and exposes it as being incomplete — Actually it is only part of a musical instrument — immediately followed by a a reassuring completion — the remainder being the mouth cavity of the player. No offence then, and contrarywise, it is a very clever point of view. Indeed, Mr. Lapp seems to be a nose flute friend: The result is a clear, pleasing, flute-like tone

The nose flute is comparable to a closed pipe, with a variable pitch, exactly like a slide whistle, which stopper would be your tongue. At the very end of the book, there is a Physics of Music Resource Vendors section, and the very last paragraph is this text:

Well, I'm not going to paraphrase what Mr. Lapp explains in his article, but just sum it up:

- Vibrations in a nose flute act as in a closed pipe, like a slide whistle
- The frequency provided by closed pipes is the result of the equation F = v/4L

(where v is the speed of sound and L the vibrating length)

The two next pages are a form of 6 questions-exercises. The two last are interesting, notably the #5:

If you played the nose flute, what is the lowest theoretical note on the Equal Tempered Scale that you personally would be able to get? (You will need to make a measurement to answer this question.)

Well, using the F = v/4L equation, with (v = 343 m/s for the speed of sound) and measuring my mouth depth drove me to wrong results... Indeed, I previously checked with a frequency meter the lowest and sharpest notes I can produce with a Bocarina nose flute.

I got 347 Hz (near F4 stands at 349 Hz) and 2321 Hz (near D7 at 2349 Hz). So, with 347 Hz at the lowest, with v=343 m/s, I get L=343/(4*347) = 0,247 meaning the vibrating length of my mouth is 24,7 cm !!

If someone can explain me this result...
Is F=v/4L really the right model to apply to a nose flute ?
Should it not be a Helmholtz resonator (much more tricky, by the way)?


>>To Nose Flute Physics - Part 2