Notes From the Editor

I really don't like to make speeches and I hate to correct people but sometimes you just have to speak your mind and let the chips fall where they may. As a Mobile DJ for over 10 years, I have handed out thousands of kazoos to party guests old and young. I can't even begin to count the number of times that adults, alone or with their children, have come to me complaining that the KAZOO I just gave them...didn't work. When I inquired as to how they were attempting to play the kazoo, they all said the same thing "When I BLOW into it, it doesn't make any sound" ! Recently, I have noticed this same level of ignorance being displayed on the eBay auction site on a regular basis. A variety of "THINGS" are being offered up for bids and all are identified as KAZOOS. These things range from tin whistles to plastic flutes to tin horns to unidentified toys to just plain junk etc. Therefore I feel it is my duty to once and for all clearly SHOW (see below) WHAT A KAZOO LOOKS LIKE and TELL what a KAZOO IS and EXPLAIN "HOW TO PLAY A KAZOO".

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The KAZOO pictured above is the standard KAZOO shape. This basic shape has NOT changed since first designed in the 1840's. You will however find KAZOOZ of several different shapes and sizes right here in the KAZOO MUSEUM. The one thing that distinguishes a TRUE KAZOO from all other instruments is the MEMBRANE. This simple piece of paper or skin or plastic, when caused to vibrate by the act of HUMMING, gives the KAZOO its unique sound. That's all there is to it. IF IT NEEDS A HUM TO MAKE A SOUND...IT'S A KAZOO, IF YOU'VE GOT TO BLOW...IT AIN'T !


The Mirliton (KAZOO) appeared in great numbers and in a variety of shapes, sizes and materials throughout Africa as far back as tribal history can trace. The most prevalent style, found in many cultures, is a hollow tube with a hole in the middle covered with animal membrane and open at both ends . Bone, reed, gourds, corn stalks, animal horns and even human skulls were used. The instrument was used to impersonate the voices of the dead, to make terrifying sounds and to bring messages from the spirit world. The "Witch Doctor", enshrouded in ceremonial robes and mask, used the Mirliton to disguise his voice and to intimidate and terrify the people. To reveal the secret of the Mirliton to an outsider, a woman or an uninitiated male tribe member was an offense punishable by death. There is also evidence to indicate that an instrument of this general description has been used since prehistoric times by all cultures around the world to imitate animal sounds and as a means of communication. The Mirliton (KAZOO) could easily be regarded as mankind's first musical instrument. The KAZOO as we know it today was designed and built by Alabama Vest and Thaddeus Von Clegg in Macon, Georgia In the early 1840's. In 1852 it was exhibited at the Georgia State Fair and was later manufactured under the name, because of its shape, "DOWN SOUTH SUBMARINE". It soon became the favorite of children and street musicians and then found its way into JAZZ, JUG and HILLBILLY bands. The KAZOO is the ONLY "ALL AMERICAN" MUSICAL INSTRUMENT.