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 26, 2016

The Bocarina® Pro - Part IV : Interview

Let's continue our exploration of the new Bocarina® Pro with an interview of its inventor and designer, Chris Schuermans from Pretoria, South Africa. We hope that this discussion will answer all the kind of questions that occured with this new model.

Big big thanks to Chris Schuermans for having taken the care and the time to answer us.

The Bocarina® is a super good nose flute, certainly the best manufactured one. Why did you decide to create a new one ?

Chris Schuermans:
Thank you for the compliment! There were a few factors that prodded me in that direction.
It was blatantly obvious that there was room for improvement. Practically as soon as the first design went into production, I realised that it is not a great design and the playability of the Bocarina®  is not ideal.
The high notes are difficult to control and come out harsh because the instrument has to be blown hard in the high range. This also means it uses a lot of breath to play the instrument.
The other problem was the ergonomics; the old model did not fit well on many face types because the nose saddle was too narrow.
Lastly, I did not like the look of the insert on the face side of the Bocarina®. The joint gaps are unsightly.

The new and the original nose saddles:

When did the process start, from the first idea until the production ? What were the different steps of this process ? What is the reason of the wavy labium ?

I guess it started when I made a ceramic Bocarina® that played better than the mass produced plastic model. The high notes were sweet and it was almost effortless to play and control the high notes. Furthermore,
I could play the instrument very softly. (whistles tend to squawk when they are blown softly)
This initiated the search for a better fipple. That was about three and half years ago... I did a lot of experiments with clay whistles but I could not figure out what worked and what did not. I needed a more scientific approach so I resorted to 3D Computer Aided Design (CAD). My first few 3D CAD models were printed with a 3D printer. However, the resolution of the 3D printer was just not good enough and it was too expensive so I decided to buy a CNC (computer numeric controlled ) milling machine.
I started experimenting with ocarinas because they are easier to mill than nose flutes. My aim was to make the fipple as efficient as possible, so I applied a few basic principles of aerodynamics to my fipple designs. I filleted the corners of the air passage and the fipple.
I also figured out that a straight line for the labium edge was not ideal. I tried a U-shaped labium edge but I got much better results from a wavy labium edge. I also curved the fipple surfaces outward to allow the air to expand as it leaves the end of the airway.
I have a feeling that this new fipple design could set a new standard for all whistle and flute makers.

Renderings of the WIP and final fipple design:
I experimented with different sized fipples and the spacing of the labium edge. During the course of experimenting with the fipple I also refined the shape of the body in gradual steps.

I know you encountered a bunch of difficulties that you overcame with success: please could you detail ?

There were some challenges and a few bumps in the road.
Firstly, to get the instrument to fit as many different faces as possible became very challenging because I could not get any facial ergonomic data about the average human face.
Once the design of the new Bocarina® was finalised the mould design for the toolmaker had to be done. This became a major obstacle. I eventually found a German toolmaker/ mould designer who took on the work, however, he gave up after about 20 hours of work. Eventually, I had to design the punch and cavities for the moulds. By the time I finished the designs, the toolmaker who made my previous mould couldn't slot in my work because he had taken on a big project. This presented me with the next challenge; to find a toolmaker who was interested in taking on a difficult project.
There were also a few hiccups and delays with the mould making process.

The new Bocarina® has got a peculiar design! Why did you use two different materials ? Which are they ?

The aim of the two part design is to improve the ergonomics and aesthetics.
The intention, is that by having a flexible body, the instrument will fit on more face shapes.
The air passage is made of a hard ABS (Acrylonitrile-Butadiene-Styrene) plastic which is over-moulded with a flexible TPE (Thermoplastic Elastomer)

This nose flute is clearly « pure, sharp and quick » oriented… Is it a « professional » model ?
(if the Bocarina® was a Grand Tourism Ferrari, is this one the Formula 1 model ?)

I appreciate the comparison -- Thank you for the compliment Antoine!
The goal was to make an efficient nose flute. I do hope that eventually it will be used professionally.
It is more difficult to master than the 'old' Bocarina® so it is not intended for beginners.

How should we call this new flute ? « the new Bocarina® », « Bocarina® II », «  Clarytone® » ?

I have already been asked this question and I'm still not sure.
The name Bocarina® is derived from Boca or Buca, Spanish and Latin for mouth and ocarina (closed vessel flute), suggesting that the Bocarina® turns your mouth into a closed vessel flute.
I was hoping that this would end up being the generic name for nose flutes, because technically, I think, the name nose flute is not descriptive enough -- the instrument is merely blown with the nose and the mouth forms the sounds.
So, at best it should be called a nose and mouth flute.
Clarytone® is the name of my business but it could also serve as the name of the 'new' Bocarina®
How about Bocarina® Pro?

How many colours will be available ? Which ones ?

The colour choice was not easy to make, so I decided to try a fruit colour scheme.

Here are the proposed colours:

Intermediate renderings for the colour chart:
When will they be released and available to the public ?

I already have some that are available to the public but they are not perfect. There are still a few issues with production and the moulds.
As you will notice on the instruments I sent you, there are flashes of plastic on the edges where the mould shut off surfaces are. You will also notice that there is a problem with the injection point, which will probably have to be moved.
The over-mould material (TPE) is also an issue -- I have to find the correct one that will chemically bond with ABS plastic and it must be:
          ·Food Safe
          ·Smooth, not sticky or tacky (good haptics)
          ·Shore 60-70 hardness
          ·Hopefully available in South Africa

I have already tested 5 different grades of TPE and only one of them is silky smooth -- but it is relatively expensive because it has FDA (Food and Drug Administration) approval.
I plan to test a Urethane Based TPE within a week or two.
Production can be finalised once I have decided on a over-mould material and once the mould has been modified.

Will the regular Bocarina® still be produced ?

Yes the 'old' Bocarina® is still going to be produced. Its popularity is growing, especially in Japan. Furthermore, the 'old' Bocarina® is easier to play and is well suited for beginners.

Thank you a lot, Chris! Now, we're all impatient to see this new nose flute available on the retail market!


Related links :

- The Bocarina® Pro - Part I : A new star is born !
- The Bocarina® Pro - Part IIa : Reviews
- The Bocarina® Pro - Part IIb : Reviews
- The Bocarina® Pro - Part III : Prototypes
- The Bocarina® Pro - Part IV : Interview
- The Bocarina® Pro - Part V : Ceramics


Mar 24, 2016

The Bocarina® Pro - Part III : Prototypes

As far as we remember, Chris Schuermans told us about his project for a new Bocarina® some three years ago. Since that time, we often have been discussing with Chris about the advancement of the new model, but also and mainly the tricks, difficulties and problems he encountered.

No, designing a new nose flute with a technical and musical exigency in mind is not an easy, smooth and linear way. More, bringing the virtual design to the market is a very tortuous path with its own snares and traps. And even more, each step, from having a prototype printed or milled, to the creation of a injection mould, trying different plastics to find the most suitable, and then having modifications applied to the mould... Each step *is* a cost, and the whole process a huge investment. Time, volition and money.

Have a look at those prototypes (there were certainly more of them...) :

And check the differences (shape, size, fipple, nose cut...) between the first proto and the (almost) final model:

And just for those images of the milled prototype beauty not to fall into oblivion (they have been under embargo for a long time, indeed!):


Related links :

- The Bocarina® Pro - Part I : A new star is born !
- The Bocarina® Pro - Part IIa : Reviews
- The Bocarina® Pro - Part IIb : Reviews
- The Bocarina® Pro - Part III : Prototypes
- The Bocarina® Pro - Part IV : Interview
- The Bocarina® Pro - Part V : Ceramics


Mar 21, 2016

The Bocarina® Pro - Part IIb : Reviews

Bocarina® Pro - Part II : Reviews

B - The Incomparable Nosy Diva

The following text is the review by the Nosy Diva. just self-authorized some very minor typographic corrections.

I have the great honor to write a bit about the new Bocarina® Pro. This instrument has been waited for since quite a while. It was a bit hard to imagine an even greater noseflute than the Bocarina® so we were very curious. On behalf of optical and technical features you will have more than enough information in the blog. My job is the player's point of view.

Please don't forget that all of this is a personal and subjective point of view and can be seen totally different by other people.

To begin with – the first notes I played with the Bocarina® Pro were not totally convincing. I did not find it very comfortable - there is a kind of lip rest which I personally do not find necessary - nor was is easy to get a good sound directly. But the more I played it the more I began to like it.

What is obvious is that the new boc is much more quick and reacts very directly. Besides you can get higher notes that still sound good and not squeeky. In direct comparison to the old boc there is no squeekiness or bysounds that I experienced before sometimes. So I am thrilled to be able to play very quickly, have a good sound and a higher range. For the low notes it is a bit weaker and does not go down so far. The sound is softer and not so loud. It is much nicer for the ear and the plastic one sounds very good to me, not so plastic-like - for the old bocs you had a bigger difference between the plastic and ceramic. Indeed the bocarina pro has a very warm and sweet sound which can be modulated beautifully. Still when I play with that instrument I always need a warmup. The "old“ Bocarina® is very easy to play and in no way complicated to handle. This new baby is a bit more of a diva and demands exactness and good tonal imagination of the player. But if you put a bit of effort it rewards you with a sweetness in sound and an accuracy even in the smallest notes and also a much more precise intonation, you will be thrilled. It offers musical perspectives you have not dreamed of! 
The material is funny and the optics also.

Then there is the question of hands-free playing (fixing the nose flute with a rubber band at your nose), an important point for instrumentalists who want to accompany themselves on the ukulele, guitar, etc. In my experience hands-free playing works ok but not as good as with the old Bocarina®. Probably because, as I said, the old one is much easier to handle and if you move it a bit you still get a reliable sound. The new boc has to be placed very well and exact to give a good sound. Also, since it it broader, the breathing (inhaling) is also a bit more difficult, but still well manageable. It looks quite funny also.
Well, this is about all for the moment. There will be more and more videos also where you can see how the noseflute world gets along with its new baby and we hope the production can start very soon and that the instrument will be available for anybody soon.

I am very eager to see how the world will react to the new Bocarina®. I am very happy and grateful to Chris Schuermans to have put so much time and money to create this beautiful instrument which offers so many new possibilities to any ambitious player and I am looking forward for the Bocarina® Pro to conquer the musical world!

Here are three samples to compare (the very end of the Badinerie by J.-S. Bach, played by the Nosy Diva):

Handler wooden nose flute:

Regular Bocarina®:

Bocarina® Pro:

And a piece by Schubert on the Bocarina® Pro:

                                                                                       Yours sincerely,

                                                                                       The Incomparable Nosy Diva

C -

On my side, I also encountered some difficulties to get a satisfying sound from the Bocarina® Pro at my first trials. There were two main reasons for that: the specific cartilage morphology of my nose impeded a complete hermeticity, but the more I tried, the easier I found the correct positioning, until I felt totally comfortable and was able to avoid air leaks.
The second reason, was I had to learn a brand new instrument. Indeed, the Bocarina® Pro requires so few air that blowing it too strongly is a misuse. It took me some time to get accustomed to that, but when I did, the Bocarina® Pro revealed itself to be a great-great nose flute. On that matter, I don't think its main target is nose flute beginners, but musicians that already have acquired a minimum skill in nosefluting.

I don't want to develop points that have already largely been detailed by other reviewers, but focus on some technical innovations and improvements.

The use of hard plastic in association of rubber is a great innovation, helping to reach a total hermeticity, and greatly improving the comfort of playing. But the most innovative improvement is the hard plastic piece itself — I call it the "functional part" — including the airway and the fipple.

1 - High care for a great sound

First, the airway is very short, as we noticed here. More, its air entrance is thicker than the air exit, forming a flat funnel shape dedicated to accelerate the flow (by Venturi's effect). The inner shapes are rounded for a smooth air flow. All these affectionate cares produce a very fast nose flute, able to perform very quick series of short notes, with a great precision.

As you (may) know, I'm far of being a nose flute maestro. Anyway, I did my best (seated at my desk which isn't the best position!) to bring you a sound sample in which you'll be able to notice the ease of fast playing provided by the new Boc'.

Avoiding the loss of efficiency (speed and strength) that can be the result of angles in the airway, in association with the choice of a soft rubber that is able to seal a perfect hermeticity... this is the secret of a super efficient flute. Any breath of air is used to produce sound! The Bocarina® Pro is "air economic", and the performer is able to manage long notes or series with great ease.
This functional precision also allows to switch conveniently between high and low tonalities, and to master vibratos and tremolos like... a pro!

2 - High tech specs for great abilities

As written before, the main innovative and stunning feature is the "moustache" labium. We explained the reasons of it: helping to improve the tessitura without bad artefacts (squawking sharps and windy bass). But its very design also shows all the care Chris Schuermans placed in the details. Here too, no angles, but smooth curves only, fluid and sweet like a baby's ass:

And the result is here. The sound is super pure. Compared to a Schwan, and even more to Humanatone, the regular Bocarina® sounds pure and fluty... but the Bocarina® Pro is even one step beyond. The sound curve should be a real sinusoid!

Here are the lowest and sharpest notes I can get on a regular Bocarina® and on the Bocarina® Pro. The results are clearly as expected: The global tessitura of the new baby is sharper than the regular one, but the ambitus (the tone range) is wider. The spectrum I get from the regular Boc spreads out from 347Hz to 2,321Hz [more or less F4 (349Hz) to D7 (2,349Hz)], while the Bocarina® Pro plays tones from 367Hz to 2,756Hz [more or less F#4 (370Hz) up to F7 (2,794Hz)!].
Clearly said, the new Boccy offers a full supplementary tone, starts half a tone higher in the bass, but reach its sharps a tone and a half over the regular one (which will make things easier for Divas playing the Aria of The Queen of the Night, with its famous « high F » !!

3 - Conclusion

As a conclusion, as we compared the regular Bocarina® to a Ferrari GTO, we could say the Bocarina® Pro is the Formula 1 model... Even superior performances — on the matters of quality of sound and efficiency — with the acceptable downside of nose flute that needs to be tamed and domesticated. This is definitely a "Pro" model with all the performances that come with, but not the best flute for the first attempts of early beginners (who tend to blow too hard in the instruments!)


Related links :

- The Bocarina® Pro - Part I : A new star is born !
- The Bocarina® Pro - Part IIa : Reviews
- The Bocarina® Pro - Part IIb : Reviews
- The Bocarina® Pro - Part III : Prototypes
- The Bocarina® Pro - Part IV : Interview
- The Bocarina® Pro - Part V : Ceramics


The Bocarina® Pro - Part IIa : Reviews

The announcement of the birth of the Bocarina® Pro generates a lot of buzz and impatience, but also tests and trials by the lucky ones who got a prototype specimen. This is notably the case among our Japanese friends — players and/or bloggers — but also here, in Europe.

So, we decided to open our pages to other reviewers, in order to provide a full spectrum of opinions. The long time reader, participant and friend of, Mr. Maikel Mei, spontaneously sent us his complete review of the new instrument. The Incomparable Nosy Diva did too, our Japanese friends have begun testing some Bocarina® Pro tuning (!) and on our side, we will provide some technical results.

Bocarina® Pro - Part II : Reviews

A - Maikel Mei

The following text is the review Mr. Mei provided. just added some pictures and self-authorized some very minor typographic corrections.

A couple of years ago I received a package with a Bocarina® prototype through my dear friend Antoine Carolus. I instantly recognised the quality craftmanship as well as the possibilities of the instrument, but couldn't play it as it doesn't fit the make up of my face, i.e. my nose and cartilage. From a young age I had played the Schwan, which not only suited me but also grew onto me. I always felt it had its limitations though, which is why I started experimenting and approaching people who could help me build the perfect nose flute.

Having received the Bocarina®, it seemed to me that combining the Schwan with this new type of flute could possibly make the perfect nose flute. The Schwan had the perfect build fitting my facial structure and also allowed me to attack the labium from various angles. Exactly that allowed me to actually make music on it instead of merely notes or simply tunes. The Bocarina® had the super quality material, the meaty body, the acceleration through the narrowing air duct and the slightly reedy ringing tone I had been looking for for such a long time.

Obviously I wanted to see Mr Schuermans's take on the Schwan, incorporating the qualities of the Schwan into the Bocarina, or the other way around. When I contacted him asking him just that, I was pleasantly surprised to get his response stating that he actually considered creating a Bocarina® that would fit Caucasian cartilage configurations (how about that for a tongue twister). He also said that it would take some considerable time, effort and patience. When I collected my snail mail this week, I was jumping with joy to find a package from France containing a new type of nose flute! The hybrid concept had finally materialised.

Many thanks to my dear friend Antoine Carolus for sharing with me one of the prototypes he had received from its maker, Chris Schuermans. I would like to express my gratitude to Mr Schuermans, whom I consider the James Dyson of nose flute design, for making this new product and even incorporating a few elements championed by me. I think this new nose flute, the Bocarina® Pro, represents a significant new stage in the development of the instrument. Here is my review:

1 - The Look

I was presented a prototype in red and yellow that matches my old first Schwan, which I find a really nice thought. This classic colour combination will not be taken in production though. The Bocarina® Pro will appear in “fruity colours”, which I consider a stroke of genius. That will certainly appeal to kids of today, as it is very now. The overall Bocarina® Pro look reminds me of a swimming manta, with its meaty yet sleek design, its soft and fluid lines, its mat uncanny appearance and obviously its bendable flaps.
It certainly looks intriguing enough to give it a serious look in the shops and possibly a try. I find the combination of the look, feel and fruity colour combinations a real winner.

The Bocarina® Pro looks like a proper cross between the Bocarina® and the Schwan. The Bocarina® Pro combines the Bocarina®'s flat yet bulky body and its highly stylized, rounded fluent lines, with the Schwan's 3D-shaped thin-walled body and its square lines based on a circular concept. The truly great thing about the Bocarina® Pro is the synthesis of the Schwan's two-part design of body and air duct cover made into one, using two types of plastics. To underline this, the two components apparently chemically even bond when they are moudled. As such, the two not only appear to be but actually have become one inseparable entity. I find that really amazing. Still, both parts remain recognisable by having their own colour, texture and finish.

A highly tactile quality of the Bocarina® Pro is the bendabillity of the side flaps provided by the soft and thick outer skin. This feature incorporates and exceeds the quality of a third nose flute design, namely that of the Humanatone! The heavy duty rubbery plastic outer skin of the Bocarina® Pro allows for bending the side flaps very easily, not only around the labium but even around the nose shield. Other than the rigid and cheap plastic flaps of the Humanatone, the Bocarina® Pro flaps simply will not break.

Whereas the Humanatone needs considerable warming up and careful tweaking of the side flaps, and eventually still breaks where the side flaps connect with the air duct cover, the Bocarina® Pro has flaps that can bend all day long without any preparation or problem. It really is a major innovation, which should allow for a whole range of wind tones to be performed on the instrument. Having the possibility to incorporate those effects in the performance takes the instrument to another professional level, making the nose flute step up to becoming a proper musical instrument.

The Bocarina® Pro even has some proper additional innovations within the design of the labium, the sharp edge over which the air flow is projected in order to produce a sound. With such detail paid to the labium lip, which is the most important part of the flute, one would have to conclude that this is a pretty good flute.

2 - The Feel

The soft feel of the object is an open invitation to take, hold, touch and play with the Bocarina® Pro. The bendability must be the number one selling point of this instrument. It is unbreakable, feels and looks like a solid, heavy duty item and even looks as if it might be cleaned inside your dishwasher. It has a legit look and the feel of a proper and interesting toy. Is it a proper instrument though?

The Bocarina® Pro consists of two parts of different types of plastics, being an outer soft shell and an inner hard shell. The outer soft shell makes it a joy to hold and touch as it is very tactile. However, its brilliance lies in the fact that it lends the instrument a perfect grip. It will not slip out of your hand whilst playing and if it does, it will not break or be damaged when falling on the floor. I have always been highly conscious of a flute breaking from dropping, particularly with my first Schwan and with my silver flute. Ironically, they actually did fall on more than one occasion because of my being overly careful. The Bocarina® Pro eradicates that concern.

The inner shell of the Bocarina® Pro contains the air duct and the labium. This piece needs to be fairly rigid in order to give the instrument a quality sound. If this bit were squidgy or floppy, the flute would have a sloppy sound or possibly no sound at all. The marriage of the hard inner piece and the soft outer coating really is the key ingredient in why this design is so remarkable. 

The part of the instrument that covers the filtrum, the bit of skin between the nose and the mouth, feels too hard to my taste as I put it to the test. It hurts my teeth as I play it and it presses up against my nose cartilage as I try to make it sound properly. This bit could be a lot softer, preferably as soft as the bendable edges. The reason for it being a little hard to the touch here is that the soft outer skin covering the hard piece of plastic right underneath is probably at its thinnest here. A little thicker could do.

3 - Technical qualities

There are four main innovations that I regard as technical improvements to be seen in the labium alone.

The Bocarina® Pro has a sturdy labium that significantly tapers all the way up, resulting in a razor sharp edge over which the air flow is directed. That should allow the instrument to be played easily, to hit the right notes quickly and easily. To my mind this is the first time the design of the labium has been executed perfectly, in the sense that it is a proper reed.

This proper reed is what makes the so-called 'whisper tones' on the Bocarina® Pro ever so easy to play. One would say that this is a great success, yet they sound so loud and clear so easily on this nose flute that they lose most of their flustery appeal.

The labium on the Bocarina® Pro is rounded, moving around a curve, which to me is a great thing. That feat should make the embouchure easier and more flexible, so that the labium lip can be attacked from various angles, in order to be able to create various sound effects. To my taste the labium could be even rounder, curling inward toward the edges more than the air flue overhead. That discrepancy would possibly provide more options and allow for interesting instant effects.

The labium is much wider on the Bocarina® Pro than on the Bocarina®, resembling the width of the Schwan labium. A wider labium to me represents a louder, more full-bodied (basic) sound, which is a good thing in my book. It allows the player to perform louder when he wants or needs to, it makes the soft tones easier to produce and provides more dynamics when combined. I also feel it allows for much more control.
I would say that is a great thing.

However, to me, the trapezoid shape of the labium on this nose flute as seen from the front should be straight or even reversed: I see four disadvantages in having a wider labium at the bottom, the base of the reed.

Firstly the side flaps cannot bend as far as I would like. That prohibits me from taking the wind tones and harmonics to the next level. With a straight or reversed outlet
the flaps' bendability can really be taken to their extremes, which will probably open up a whole new range of sound effects.

Secondly, having bent those side flaps to their extremes, I feel as if the hard edge of the fipple will eventually probably puncture the soft flaps, destroying its function and therefore its purpose. Apparently, the inner body -- the fipple -- has a perforated edge that prevent that from happening.

Thirdly, my aim has always been to project and channel a reedy flute sound instead of that of a toy whistle from the labium, both acoustically and electrically. In my opinion, a straight or reverse outlet could create a better sound in that respect. This “better sound” I always speak of what I feel makes a flute sound like a proper flute, such as reedy resonances, windy sounds, bamboo tones, over-blown effects and multiphonics

Fourthly, I feel a straight or possibly reversed trapezoid outlet would allow for more control over the tone and effects when cupping the labium with my hands, which I do quite for what I feel to be a proper and much improved sound. I feel a straight or inverted trapezoid would address all these problems and solve them.

I have come to see where the creator of the Bocarina® and Bocarina® Pro, Mr Chris Schuermans, comes from with his design, as he has informed me about a greater efficiency when having the trapezoid outlet. Apparently, a reversed outlet results in something called the “venturi effect”, which stands for back pressure whilst blowing the instrument. In my opinion this could only contribute to a type of sound I am after, as I am not really interested in the cleanest of sounds. I feel a flute should sound like most ethnic flutes do, having loads of character.

Also, I would prefer a somewhat flexible, bendable labium, preferably even the complete inserted fipple comprising the air duct cover and the labium. This, together with a possibly slightly thinner reed at the base, would improve the possibilities of embouchure. Larger side flaps might enhance these possibilities even further.

The first feature that stands out from the flute would have to be the labium lip, shaped as the contour of the upper lip to a mouth. I love the idea of having a narrower as well as a broader opening simultaneously, and I do not think this has ever been done before. I love the idea of it, just as I love the idea of having two types of totally different plastics combined interacting. This nose flute appears to be all about making two different approaches work together. To me, that is the true genius of this design. However, as the proof is in the pudding, the question remains: does the labium work? To me, the moustache shape of the labium does not make much difference if any at all, sadly.

As Chris Schuermans explained to me in his very kind email, he had designed the wavy edge in such a way as to allow the air to part over the edge most efficiently. This is very similar to modern, especially supersonic airplane wings. It is also very similar to the wavy fan blades design of modern jet engines, which are specifially designed to reduce turbulence and noise. I am really impressed by Chris Schuermans's scientific approach in aiming for the most efficient or cleanest result in nose flute sound and design. However, my goal in playing the nose flute is to play it with the most credible sound and effects.

4 - The Playability

It took me just a little finding out and a bit of adjustment to find the sweet spot of the instrument's sound. It has a sweet, slightly reedy and ringing tone when played correctly. It does not go very loud, it does not have a great range in the bass. It is quite easy to hit the note, but only in a fixed position. For novices, entertainment, children, fun etcetera that would be perfectly alright. It is great fun to so easily be able to play any tune you like. In that respect it plays better than the Schwan. It certainly is way more pleasant.

The Bocarina® Pro has a direct approach and attack with instant result. However, it lets me down in wanting to do something additional with the tone, the application of dynamics and all. Its medium range also does not help, as it does not cover over three octaves I wish to perform melodies in. I need at least a bass range, which it lacks. The Schwan has over halve an octave to it there. Its soprano is either very loud and thin or very windy. It also lacks control in that department and it is quite easy to lose the tone.

The fact that the Bocarina® Pro performs whisper tones so easily and well, if not too well, indicates that this instrument is basically a well-worked out nose flute, particularly showing a fabulous labium lip.

I must say the Bocarina® Pro does not work well (enough) for me. I have to keep the flute firmly in one position as I play, otherwise I will lose the tone. It is essential to me to be able to throw the flute around whilst playing in order to change the embouchure. Otherwise, if I cannot change the tone and apply effects, I see no need in playing the instrument. It could be much better in that department. To my taste, for my way of playing and what I want to accomplish with it, the Bocarina® Pro is far from perfect. I would treat this nose flute by playing it quietly in a mid range with clear, reedy tones, though.

I would like to see the instrument have an elongated body below the labium, in order to be able to attach a pick up microphone. I could see the pick up microphone even attached to the inside of the elongated mouth shield. I would also like to see the bottom part of the instrument run through in one line, and fuse together with the upper part. This would result in a rounded convex air duct cover, lending the instrument a pebble look, a monolitic shape. It would look and feel far more substantial and even more of a musical instrument.

5 - The Upper Lip Rest

I love the fact that Chris Schuermans incorporated the upper lip rest in his Bocarina® Pro design. Some people may disapprove of it, find it unnecessary or even obsolete. I have always loved the lip rest as it is a feature on the Schwan, the one type of nose flute I learnt to play with. It assisted me to know where I was in relation to the labium lip. It also allowed me to use my teeth whilst playing and consequently change my cavity without losing position. That way I could put more expression into my play.

I agree with Antoine Carolus that the lip rest on the Bocarina® Pro is too small. It is too small to really do the trick. In fact, the lip rest meets my front teeth half way as I put my face to the instrument. Either the lip rest should be positioned 5–10 millimetres lower, or the top half of the Bocarina® and with it the air inlet should be raised about
5-10 millimetres. Additionally, I feel that by raising the air inlet by a centimetre,the overall look of the Bocarina Pro would be a little less awkward and just a little bit more balanced. To me, stylistically this lip rest is the perfect internediate shape, as a compromise between the striking lip rest of the Schwan and the liprestless Bocarina®.

In that respect I wonder if the v-shaped air inlet should be rounded. Firstly, that would require higher positioning of the nose and with it the upper lip and upper row of teeth. Secondly, the air flow originates from the nostrils and therefore a v-shape does not contribute to the air inlet. I wonder what a larger instrument would do. Could there be various sizes as in the clothing industry?

6 - Overall

Look   90%Interesting and appealing, slightly awkward proportions
Feel   100%Highly tactile, ideally suited for small hands
Novelty   100%Great for kids and novices, fabulous introduction
Used materials   98%A slightly more flexible inner shell for 100%
Craftmanship   100%Properly made, superb blend of styles and materials
Innovation   100%Great job, and this is only the second proper generation
Clarity of tone   92%When hitting the sweet spot
Entry level   80%Pretty easy to play tunes on, good response
Playability   65%I cannot perform on it the way I want it
Price   ??
Total   825/900 so far
6 - Conclusion

Overall, the Bocarina® Pro is a wonderful new design and a fabulous addition to the nose flute family. The Bocarina® Pro might very well take off and create a real resurgence of interest in the instrument. I hope that by reviewing it the design will be taken even further. Technically, it is still far away from being the perfect instrument that would allow me to perform freely on it.

My aim is to have the perfect nose flute, of which there could be more than one.
I realise that one person alone simply cannot do it, as any succesful product always requires multiple chains interacting. Hereby I would like to call out to anyone reading this to try and contribute to the best possible nose flute production, the best possible nose flute play and the best possible nose flute promotion. I am positive the nose flute has a grand future when treated well.

                                                                                       Maikel Mei,
                                                                                       The Netherlands

                                                       >>> To the Incomparable Nosy Diva's review


Related links :

- The Bocarina® Pro - Part I : A new star is born !
- The Bocarina® Pro - Part IIa : Reviews
- The Bocarina® Pro - Part IIb : Reviews
- The Bocarina® Pro - Part III : Prototypes
- The Bocarina® Pro - Part IV : Interview
- The Bocarina® Pro - Part V : Ceramics