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Jan. 28 is celebrated as National Kazoo Day,a day when, according to organizers, Americans are supposed to take time to recognize the kazoo, that musical instrument that takes only a minute to master for a lifetime to annoy.
But while the kazoo can be irritating when played by a hyperactive 5-year-old, it is a legitimate musical instrument, according to Scott Paulson, who uses kazoos to help provide soundtracks at silent movie screenings.
“It can be annoying, but it can be a delightful instrument,” Paulson told HuffPost Weird News. “It’s known mostly as a child’s toy, but it has a history of being a ritual instrument in Africa.”
Paulson says those early kazoos were used in rituals where the natives would disguise their voices using an animal horn and the membrane from spider eggs.
“It’s basically a mask of the voice,” he said.
Legend has it that the modern kazoo was invented in 1850 by former slave Alabama Vest of Macon, Ga., who devised the plans and than had it built by clockmaker Thaddeus von Clegg, a German immigrant. It was introduced two years later at the 1852 Georgia State Fair, but the familiar sub shape wasn’t created until 1902.