May 28, 2008
Should the Kazoo Name be America's National Instrument?
I was interested to read a recent Associated Press article about the Original Kazoo Co. located outside Buffalo, New York, which came to be known as the Original Kazoo Co. after its former owner sold its original name, The Original American Kazoo Co, to its largest distributor.
The Original Kazoo Co. still makes the instruments the way it did back in 1916 when the company was founded; the patent for the kazoo not being granted until 1923.
The actual instrument traces its history into the mists of time. Before it was the kazoo, it was popularly referred to as the "Down Home Submarine." The kazoo is, interestingly, the only truly American instrument, leading some to believe it should be our national instrument.
The basic instrument does indeed have a long pedigree, categorized among the group of membrane based instruments called mirlitons that were used by traditional cultures in Africa, but came to Europe as an eunuk flute at the end of the 17th century.
I doubt the movement to make the kazoo our national instrument will go anywhere, because the word kazoo is simply too silly. But, on the other hand, its no different than a lot of Web 2.0 names.
Although, if one is to believe the Oxford English Dictionary, kazoo is simply an imitation of the sound the actual instrument makes.
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