Continued from product description on
Folk Instruments' Page Two...
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
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
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
Fact: Humanatone nose flutes were once sold loose in glass
jars on the counters of music stores.
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.