The Nasophone: An Unexpected, Musical Use for the Nose?

I suspect that the following old newspaper excerpt is a joke, and a fun one at that, but one can never be too certain! One thing I do know is that the opening remarks about Mozart seem to be based on an anecdote that I’ve heard before. Scroll down below the picture to read more about this.

This excerpt dates from 1885 and was published in the New York Times via the Pall Mall Gazette. Do you know if the nasophone was real? I certainly hope it was (or still is)! nasophone2Now, as for those opening remarks about Mozart, I suspect they were based on the following anecdote from Slonimsky’s Book of Musical Anecdotes:

One day, Mozart taunted Haydn that the latter would never be able to play a piece which Mozart had just written. Haydn sat at the harpsichord, began to play from the manuscript, then stopped abruptly. There was a note in the center of the keyboard while the right hand was playing in high treble and the left hand in low bass.

“Nobody can play this with only two hands,” Haydn exclaimed.

“I can,” Mozart said quietly. When he reached the debated portion of his composition, he bent over and struck the central note with his nose.

“With a nose like yours,” Haydn conceded, “it becomes easier.”

(Anecdote taken from Slonimsky’s Book of Musical Anecdotes by Nicolas Slonimsky, and quoted online at Story Compositions)

What do you all think of this silliness? Should noses be used more to make music, rather than just smell things? I used to play my plastic recorder with my nostrils as a child, but that’s a story for another time…

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How Smell Works: It’s not all in the nose

Andreas Vesalius, olfactory bulbs, from “De Humani Corporis Fabrica”, 1543.

I hope to be able to share with you, from time to time, articles that are both interesting, and which challenge our collective, accepted knowledge about things. As this is a perfume blog, the nose, and how we smell, are central concepts. So… how do we smell? Many of us would answer “with our noses”; but is it just with our noses that we experience scent? You would be forgiven for answering “yes”, but researchers over the past decade or so have discovered that olfactory receptors (the things that are in our noses that allow us to smell) are also situated throughout our bodies, in many of our organs, and even in sperm. These receptors react in such interesting ways to the application of various aromas or scent chemicals, that they provide new potential methods of healing the body, and show promise in repairing things like damaged skin and muscle tissue.

This kind of discovery reminds me of recent findings regarding the presence of enormous quantities of neurotransmitters and serotonin in the human stomach. So, you literally feel with your stomach and have a second “brain” down there, albeit one that functions (thinks and feels) differently to the one in your head. That gut feeling you have about something, really is a gut feeling.

I love it when things don’t fit into neat boxes, and when we discover previously unknown connections between things. So, in today’s post, I want to share with you this very exciting article from the New York Times. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I did!

You can read Smell Turns Up in Unexpected Places by Alex Stone here.