Kazoo; More than a Novelty

January 28th is national kazoo day for America but for the international Kazoo lovers their holiday is February 19th.

Why is there a national kazoo day? What’s a Kazoo?

Let’s start with the first question; what exactly is a Kazoo?

Kazoo is one of the most common types of Mirliton. A Mirliton is an instrument or device where noises are produced while vibrating a membrane. This causes a buzzing sound. 

Fun Fact: Mirlitons are also set in the walls of some flutes (e.g., the Chinese ti) and xylophone resonators to colour the tone.

Fun Fact: The kazoo is said to have originated from the ancient African mirliton.

A Kazoo is a musical instrument resembling a flute, recorder or other wind instruments but quite shorter. The kazoo is a percussion instrument that’s structured differently than typical wind instruments. It’s designed to create a buzzing or timbral quality to the musician’s voice and a resonating membrane. To use a kazoo ones blows, or speaks through the membrane to produce the buzzing quality. For more diversity, the musician can completely or partially cover the membrane.

“In addition to these structural differences, a kazoo is also played different than conventional instruments. In brass instruments, the buzzing sound of the lips is amplified to produce the notes. In wood-wind instruments, musical notes are created by the vibration of the reed. The kazoo relies on the voice of the musician to produce the sound. When a musician plays a kazoo, he hums into it and that causes the thin film to vibrate. This vibration changes with the sound of the voice giving it the buzzing quality, which is unique to the kazoo.” Explains Encyclopedia.com

Amplifying the voice, it’s a rather creative instrument with a unique sound. 

Now to delve deeper into National Kazoo Day. This is a holiday to bring attention and awareness to this specific instrument and the impact that it’s had in history, and in childhood memories. January 28th was founded as National Kazoo Day.

There is also a website dedicated to national kazoo day and to the Kazoo itself. They explain why there are some discrepancies between the date of National Kazoo Day.

“Of course, kazoo players are not known to be perfectly precise, so feel free to celebrate National Kazoo Day on January 23, if you so desire, as some folks have the impression that the date is supposed to be the fourth Thursday in January. In fact, most people will agree that we should consider January 23-28, 2020, National Kazoo WEEK! So celebrate all weekend long!”

And of course, we’re bringing you some Kazoo covers to show that the kazoo is more than a novelty.

Let’s start with some classic Micheal Jackson. blendingmelodies covers “Billie Jean” with a kazoo making sure to keep the smooth Jackson style with the energy of the Kazoo.

mean green lima bean‘s cover of “Seven Nation Army”, originally by The White Stripes uses both the Kazoo and the Ukelele to bring a rather subtle and sweet cover to their audience.

Undertale and kazoos. It doesn’t sound perfect on paper but in practice, it’s majestic. Brought to us by Tsuko G., The song Megalovania from Undertale is a perfect song to cover with Kazoos.

This cover of “Nightmare” by Avenged Sevenfold is not subtle and sweet like the previous cover. It may be the song itself, the kazoo, or the eeriness of Avenged Sevenfold but this cover is menacing. Fan Flat Crew has created this great and eerie cover.

Kinky Kazoo combines “Bad Guy” with a kazoo. It seems that “Bad Guy” by Billie Eilish is a versatile song to cover resulting in amazing covers. This cover in particular proves that kazoos are musical and not just a novelty!

Aymen Benzarti and Yassine Amara combine “Despacito” and the kazoo. “Despacito” by Luis Fonsi featuring Daddy Yankee is a fast-paced song with a lot of energy. Adding a Kazoo seems like an insane feat but they pull it off. 

 

Citations

Encyclopedia Britannica. 2020. Mirliton | Definition, Types, & Facts.

Harrop, Helen. 2010. Have Fun, Make Art. [Photograph]

Berghash, R. and D. Jachimowicz. U.S. Patent #4832653.

Nationalkazooday.com. 2020. National Kazoo Day.

Stewart, Barbara. How to Kazoo. Workman Publishing Co., 1983.

The Original American Kazoo Company, 8703 South Main Street, Eden, New York 14057.

 

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