The vuvuzela: a new South African musical instrument (?!?)

With the World Cup taking place in South Africa, we can’t exactly say that soccer fever is sweeping the world. After all, it did that generations ago. But with the American team playing well and gaining an international following, it’s sweeping the US, at least for a while.

Who of us have not seen news stories of a plastic trumpet made in South Africa called the vuvuzela? That’s actually nothing new, either. Cheap stadium horns were readily available for baseball games and other sporting events in this country fifty years ago.

In any case, most people declare that it has a horrible, obnoxious sound. It has the same dreadful fascination as, say, that flower, whatever it’s called, that blooms rarely and smells somewhat worse than a hog manure lagoon.

But wait! Is the whole world mocking unfairly? Three brass players from the Konzerthausorchester in Berlin have made a video demonstrating its playing technique and musical possibilities. Even for non-German speakers such as myself, the entire speech is easy to follow. The playing speaks for itself.

Think of it: three very dignified Germans in a concert hall, wearing white tie and tails, and presenting a technical demonstration of the instrument. Playing Brahms and Ravel! We’re duty bound to take the vuvuzela seriously now, right?

The Berlin Philharmonic now has a vuvuzela section, featured in concert on a video. Unfortunately, they have disabled the ability to embed it. Follow the link in order to see it.


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