Bocarina® nose flute, among other instruments. He began with clay models in the early 2000s, named Clarytone®, which reached only a local market. But in 2011, after a huge work on the design and the fluid mechanics (including testing the shape with a wind tunnel modelization software), Chris launched the Bocarina®, which quickly became available in the USA, Europe and Japan : a beautiful, sturdy and easy-to-play, yet musically efficient and powerful instrument was accessible for several Dollars. The Bocarina® was indeed a high standard manufactured instrument, and has remained since the only nose flute with such capabilities in that range of prices.
Bocarinas (Regular (in ABS) and early batches (in Polypropylene) :
Clay and ceramic Bocarinas :
Bocarinas experiments and "Glow in the dark" models :
Chris Schuermans could have stopped there, but he followed his researches on, and in 2016 began the production of the Bocarina Pro®. The goal was to make an instrument in soft plastics, with the purpose of adapting to different types of noses and physiognomies. More, he designed a very new kind of fipple, with a wavy shape in order to expand the ambitus. Chris managed with a hard ABS "technical insert" (the wind way and fipple piece) inset into a soft body (nose hood and mouth shield). The global pitch was a bit higher and the nose flute a bit more tricky to manage, but above all, the manufacturing process was not satisfying (not fully reliable and expensive). That Bocarina® II didn't convince as did the regular model.
The Bocarina® Pro and its incredible fipple :
But Chris carried on, learning from mistakes. Trying 3D printing, 5-axis CNC routing, designing new prototypes and testing different materials, natural and synthetic wood, or rare and expensive other ones imported from different parts of the world. Chris, always very generous, sent us (The Nosy Diva and me) many of those rarities, and some sit among our very best nose flutes. For sure, these would have been too expensive to be mass produced. They were experimental objects dedicated to knowledge improvement.
Natural wood and Chemical wood (Necuron 651) :
On the ceramics side, Mr. Schuermans designed moulds to press clay, not necessarily to produce ceramic Bocarina® in a wide number, but to ensure a regular quality. I don't know exactly how many different models were made in his workshop, but one day he had sent me another ceramic prototype (which plays wonderfully!), I asked him which one it was, and Chris answered to me : "this one should be Bocarina shape #7 or #8, I guess". Not many, but around a hundred or two of the clay Bocarinas (different shapes) reached the market, mainly in Japan (plus Chris' local one in RSA).
Different shapes of ceramic Bocarinas :
But that was not all. Already ill and sometimes very weak, Chris Schuermans had the idea to use the shape of a conch to amplify the nose flute voice. Progressing with "miss and hit", fails and wins, Chris built several prototypes, firstly from (medical) scans of real shells, then by CAD-designing a perfect shape according to acoustics. We suggested to call those "Concharinas", which name Chris adopted. He also wanted to produce some of them in ceramics, but the task revealed very difficult (too many cracks after firing the clay) but not impossible, since he managed to craft successfully some of them. Chris' strength was vanishing away, but our gentle and kind yet... stubborn friend kept on working on the Concharinas with all his heart between his stays at the hospital.
Medical scans of Concharinas :
Raw clay and glazed ceramics :
Chris' last project is a 3D printed shell-bodied violin, which he had just the time to complete. The "Conchiolin" ?
The Conchiolin :
Chris Schuermans' legacy to the nose flute world is huge. He simply re-invented the instrument with a high-tech approach, a real sense of aesthetics and a true and talented craftsmanship. More, he succeeded in manufacturing, ensuring a reliable and regular quality, making professional instruments accessible to anyboby. Chris Schuermans was a true Master, and has been inducted to The Nose Flute Hall of Fame, in the 'Producers' section, at the highest level.
We will terribly miss our friend Chris. We had incredibly interesting talks with him, and funny ones too. He was a kind gentleman and a very sharp mind. We address our deepest condolences and warmest thoughts to his family, particularly to his brother Lodewyk and his children.