Kazoo enthusiasts can learn the history of musical instruments in nearby Beaufort
If you can hum, you can play the “most democratic” instrument in the world – the kazoo. The modest instrument is on a par with the recorder and baby xylophone as the first instrument people learn to play. It only takes a moment to learn and no time to master.
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The humble kazoo has a silly, buzzy sound that made it popular in vaudeville, comedy, and jazz acts of yore, and it continues to be a popular American musical invention. There is even a National Kazoo Day celebrated on January 28.
The kazoo has several different origin stories. The most commonly told story about the invention of the kazoo is that it was created in 1840 by a German clockmaker named Thaddeus Von Clegg for an African-American artist from Macon, Georgia named Alabama Vest, who later called the “Down-South Submarine”. ” when he presented it at the Georgia State Fair of 1852. However, there is no documentation to prove this story, so it is difficult to prove how true it is.
A more verifiable story is that American inventor, Warren Herbert Frost, named his instrument/toy “kazoo” when he patented it in 1883. The submarine-shaped kazoo we know today went on to was patented by George D. Smith of Buffalo, New York. in 1902, but it was the Original American Kazoo Company, opened in 1916, that began mass-producing it and integrating it into American musical culture.
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Visitors to nearby Beaufort, South Carolina can learn about the history of the kazoo at Kazoo Museum, located at the Kazoobie Kazoo factory at 12 John Galt Road. The museum features over 200 kazoos, making it one of the largest kazoo collections in the world. Some of the unique pieces include kazoos shaped like cartoon characters, an electric kazoo, a kazoo used on The Partridge Family TV show, and several kazoos that are over a hundred years old.
If you’re not convinced that kazoos are awesome, check out the classic “You on Kazoo” video on Youtube. Kazoobie Kazoos customers include Weezer and flautist Ian Anderson of Jethro Tull.
Museum visitors can also tour the factory to see how kazoos are made, then build their own from fourteen different body colors and bespoke resonators. If you’re looking for stocking stuffer ideas this holiday season, it might be worth a visit to the gift shop, that is, if you can bear to listen to your kids. yelling at little hummers all Christmas morning.
Sometimes the silliest attractions are the best, so visit the Kazoo Museum and see what all the fuss is about.
Christopher Berinato is the author of “Secret Savannah: A Guide to the Weird, the Wonderful, and the Dark.”
This article originally appeared on Savannah Morning News: The largest kazoo collection in the world is at the Kazoobie Kazoo factory