Kazoo

Kazoos are not just for the casual amateurs!

  • A kazoo is a small apparatus that can produce music by a person humming, singing or speaking into the mouthpiece.
  • The shape of a kazoo is often compared to that of a submarine, and it features holes at both ends, with another in what is generally a raised cylinder on the top.
  • To produce a good sound, a user should hum into the kazoo or make the sounds ‘rrr’, ‘doo’, ‘who’ or ‘brrr’ and avoid blowing, and in doing so, a buzz-like sound is added to those made by the user.
  • Kazoos distort the sound entered by the user, due to the vibration of the membrane that is located at the bottom of the hole in the top of the instrument, and this is caused by the changing air pressure made by the sound.
  • It is thought that the earliest form of kazoo was used by traditional African tribes to manipulate one’s voice, made of a cows’ horn and spider egg casings.
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Kazoo
Image courtesy of Phil Parker/Flickr
  • There is a museum dedicated to the kazoo, located in South Carolina’s Beaufort in the United States, which opened in 2010.
  • By the late 1870s, patents for buzzing musical instruments with similar functionality to the modern kazoo surfaced, however it was not until 1902 that the modern style shape was patented, by George D Smith from New York, in the United States.
  • The name ‘kazoo’ is believed to have been given to the instrument in 1883 by inventor Warren Frost, and the word is possibly an onomatopoeia (a word that imitates a sound) of the noise that the instrument makes.
  • Quality kazoos are commonly made of metal, while other variants typically produced are made of plastic or wood; and not only have they been used as musical instruments, but also as toys.
  • Kazoos were first used in a professional music recording in 1921 by the Original Dixieland Jass (or Jazz) Band, in the song ‘Crazy Blues’.
Bibliography:
History of the Kazoo Through Patents, 2013, Association of American Kazoologists, http://kazoologist.org/history.html
Kazoo, 2016, Historical Folk Toys, http://www.historicalfolktoys.com/catcont/5001.html
Kazoo, 2016, Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kazoo
The Kazoo – It’s “Physics”, History, and Importance for Modern Music, 2016, Kazoobie Kazoos, https://kazoos.com/pages/the-kazoo-its-physics-history-and-importance-for-modern-music

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Saxophone

“The potential for the saxophone is unlimited.” Steve Lacey

  • Saxophones are usually a curved, hollow, metal cylinder, with a bell, keys and a mouthpiece with a reed, and different variations and alterations can make different sounds.
  • A ‘Saxophone’ is also known as a ‘sax’, while those who play the instrument are known as ‘saxophonists’.
  • Saxophones are musical instruments of woodwind class, although though are generally made of brass.
  • In 1840, Adolphe Sax, an instrument maker from Belgium, invented the saxophone to bring balance to the combination of woodwinds, brass, and strings, and in the few years following, they were marketed in Paris.
  • Saxophones were first patented in 1846, with a range of 14 instruments that included an E flat and F sopranino, and an E flat and F contrabass, and also other instruments pitched in C and F, as well as the B flat and E flat saxophones that are commonly used today.

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  • Saxophones became the subject of modification from 1866, due to Sax’s expired patent; with multiple changes to the keys and a major addition of the F# key.
  • Saxophones are most commonly used in jazz and classical music genres, and are very commonly used in military bands and jazz bands.
  • There are nine instruments in the family of saxophones, all typically pitched in E or B flat, and the most common are, from smallest to largest, soprano, alto, tenor and baritone.
  • Saxophones are generally coated with an acrylic lacquer or often plated with silver to stop the brass from discolouring, but nickel and gold are also used to coat the instrument.
  • Soprano saxophones are usually straight, rather than the typical curved shape, and other straight sax instruments are also available, including the saxello, which has a curved top and a tilted bell.
Bibliography:
The History of the Saxophone, 2014, The Saxophone.com, http://www.the-saxophone.com/history-of-the-saxophone.html
Saxophone, 2014, Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saxophone

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