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Humanatone (Nose Flute)


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Historical Background: The name "Humanatone" was first used in commerce on August 1, 1904 by its inventor James J. Stivers. Stivers and others formed the Humanatone Company in New York City to manufacture and sell a "nasal wind musical instrument."

According to musical instrument inventor Wayland Harmon, the Humanatone is classified as a "mouth cavity instrument." He also refers to the Humanatone as a nose flute or nose whistle and describes it as a "fascinating device for producing flute pitches by changes in mouth size."

This instrument makes tones when the nose exhales and allows the player's mouth to become a variable resonance chamber. Since the player's mouth does not have a fixed vibrating piece (like a free-reed instrument), the Humanatone's pitch range can be a rapid series of ascending or descending notes on the musical scale. This gives the Humanatone a full glissando like a slide whistle. The volume of air can be smoothly adjusted and altered infinitely rather than in steps.

The original Humanatone was made of tin plates riveted together and painted an olive drab color. Today's Humanatones are made of colorful plastics and sized primarily for use by children. However, one can easily make some minor adjustments for an adult's use.

Referring to the Humanatone as a nose flute is perhaps a misnomer. A traditional nose flute is a pipe with fingering holes and sound is made by exhaling through the nose. Nose flutes are most common in the eastern hemisphere, particularly in the southern portion. Traditional nose flutes have been part of cultures in southern Africa, the Philippines, New Zealand, Hawaii as well as other locations for centuries. Nose flutes have generally been made from bamboo.

Today's Humanatone is made from plastic and looks abstractly like a propeller airplane. These "plastic gems" make an ideal party favor or birthday treat for school children. These Humanatones have recently gained notoriety and popularity among adults, who have taken them to business seminars, meetings and parties.

Fun Fact: Humanatone nose flutes were once sold loose in glass jars on the counters of music stores.

Not-so-fun Fact: Humanatones are a personal musical instrument and should be kept clean and not shared with others to prevent the spread of germs and diseases.

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Humanatone (Nose Flute)
Humanatone (Nose Flute)
Item Number 5005

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