Music and musical instruments are the life of a musical artist. They have been entertaining us for centuries with their versatile music and songs. There are several kinds of musical instruments that are available on the market these days. But in olden times, instruments were made manually, and one such instrument was the Kazoo. So, today let us find out what is kazoo and how to make a kazoo at home. Also, figure out how to play the kazoo.
1. What is Kazoo?
It is an American musical instrument derived from another musical instrument known as mirliton, in the shape of a pipe with a hole in it. It makes a buzzing sound when blown from one side. The sound produced from this pipe-like instrument depends upon the blowing pattern and quality of the player because the thin film covering the hole vibrates accordingly. (See What Type of Instrument is a Piano?)
2. Who Invented Kazoo?
- A popular belief is that an African-American person named Alabama Vest from Macon, Georgia invented the modern-day Kazoo in 1840.
- Although, the written proof about the person who created Kazoo was about an American inventor, Warren Herbert Frost. It was evident from the patent documents dated 09 January 1883, in which Frost had named his new musical instrument or toy by the name Kazoo. The shape of his kazoo was more like a pipe rather than a submarine shape.
- The first metal Kazoo was patented under the name of George D. Smith on 27 May 1902 in Buffalo, New York.
3. How was Kazoo made?
The Original American Kazoo Company, Eden, New York, started manufacturing Kazoos on a large scale. It started in 1916, and they started this work from a two-room shop and factory. What is Kazoo preparing machine? They actually used jack presses for cutting, crippling, and bending metal sheets for several decades. By the year 1994, the company became a monopoly in the field of kazoo production and was producing 1.5 million kazoos per year. They became so popular because they were the only metal kazoo manufacturer in the whole of North America. (See
4. When did the Kazoo Gain Publicity?
- During the Georgia State Fair in 1852, Kazoo was presented before the public by the name of Down South Submarine.
- National Kazoo Day is celebrated on 28 January in the United States. Also, people suggest celebrating the fourth week of January as National Kazoo Week.
- Many kazooists propose celebrating the fourth Thursday in January to celebrate National Kazoo Day as this may be handy. (See The History of Mariachi)
5. What is Kazoo made of?
Depending upon the shape and size of the kazoo, they can be made from plastic, glass, wood, and metal.
- Wood and glass kazoos were commonly popular during the 1800s.
- Nowadays, the most common material used is Thermo Plastics because they are more rigid and durable.
- Other plastics like polypropylene and high-density polyethylene (HDPE) are also used by adding some fillers to make the plastics more rigid, lightweight, and less prone to breaking.
- Colors are added to the plastic to make the end product attractive.
- Advanced silicone plastic is used for the resonating membrane. It is thin, flexible, and resistant to tearing. All these characteristics make it the best choice for the resonating membrane.
- Metal kazoos are expensive, and they use mainly stainless steel.
- Kazoo lovers have even got their kazoos made from gold and silver. (See What is a Rube Goldberg Machine?)
6. What are the Different Parts of Kazoo and their Functions?
Modern Kazoos basically comprises of three parts:
- The main body can be made in any shape and size, but it should be open from both sides. The main body acts as the playing surface and the amplifier for the sound.
- The turret section holds the resonating membrane. The turret is a round piece fixed into the hole in the horizontal section of the main body.
- The resonating membrane is the thin film and is known as the kazoo’s heart. When the sound passes by, this thin film vibrates. (See The History of Medieval Jesters)
7. How to Make a Kazoo at Home?
Now that we know what is kazoo, let’s learn how to make one! We will share a simple method of making a kazoo at home with a cardboard roll similar to that of a toilet paper or kitchen paper, aluminum or cling film roll. Let’s look at the step-by-step guide to making a kazoo:
- Paint the Kitchen paper roll in any color or pattern of your choice.
- Cut the wax paper about the diameter of one end of the painted roll, but the length should cover one-fourth of the tube or roll. The wax paper will be the resonating membrane that will vibrate and make the buzz sound just like a kazoo.
- Seal the paper with elastic bands. Ensure it does not slip, but do not twist the elastic band tight because what is kazoo if it has no airway.
- Puncture a hole in the middle of the roll safely that will make the pathway for sound to escape. Kids should be assisted by elders during this process
It is a fun and easy way to make a kazoo for kids at home. Kids themselves can try this craft and enjoy making different sizes, shapes, and colorful patterned kazoos. (See 5 Fun Kitchen Science Experiments)
8. How to Play The Kazoo?
The main point to remember while playing the kazoo is not to blow in it, just hum in the hole. When we hum in the hole at one end, extra air blows out from the other end. This humming sound vibrates the membrane, resulting in making a buzzing sound.
- Hold the kazoo horizontally and wider towards your mouth to hum in it.
- Hum in the hole and try making sounds like do, brr, who, or by humming. Pitch can be created with your humming. If you know humming songs without kazoo, just do the same with kazoo on your lips.
- Play, record, and listen to notice the changes in your notes and make corrections if necessary.
If the purpose was a presentation or a band addition, you need to set out time for daily practice. Note down the songs to practice, and try different humming techniques to innovate your own new styles. Make it your fun partner because we learn more when we enjoy it. Play the kazoo with your friends and try new songs with them. (See How Do You Play The Sitar?)