Original music, a description by Thomas P. Campbell (Director) and a conversation between J. Kenneth Moore (Department of Musical Instruments) and Eric Kjellgren (Department of Arts of Africa, Oceania, and the Americas) (November 2009).
Nose Flute (Bituucu, Bitu Ceguvi, Bitu ni Vakatagi, or Bitu Vakatagi), ca. 1830
The Crosby Brown Collection of Musical Instruments, 1889 (89.4.795)
Widely made and used in every region of the Pacific except Australia, nose flutes are played with the nose rather than the mouth. To do so, the musician generally holds one nostril shut with the thumb or a finger and sounds the flute by blowing into a small hole drilled near the top of the instrument with the other. Nose flutes are almost universally made, as here, from bamboo and, like other small bamboo flutes, are typically used in informal settings. This example is from Fiji, where nose flutes were played by both sexes to provide soothing music when at rest or during courting. The melodies, composed of from two to four notes, were quiet and plaintive, providing a relaxing interlude or softly enticing a current or prospective lover.