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The sound of the vuvuzela: The science behind the bluster

June 15, 2010 | 11:04 am

Klt38ync A week ago, if someone had uttered the word  "vuvuzela," chances are you would have responded with a polite "Gesundheit!" But now we all know that a vuvuzela is an annoying plastic trumpet that South Africans blow during soccer matches, and that the fans have some very impressive lung capacity to do so for 90 minutes virtually non-stop.

New Scientist magazine has a fascinating explanation of the hows and whys of the annoyance, providing the science behind the bluster:

The vuvuzela is like a straightened trumpet and is played by blowing a raspberry into the mouthpiece. The player's lips open and close about 235 times a second, sending puffs of air down the tube, which excite resonance of the air in the conical bore. A single vuvuzela played by a decent trumpeter is reminiscent of a hunting horn -- but the sound is less pleasing when played by the average football fan, as the note is imperfect and fluctuates in frequency. It sounds more like an elephant trumpeting. This happens because the player does not keep the airflow and motion of the lips consistent.

Any more questions?

(via Boing Boing)

-- Randall Roberts

Photo: Vuvuzela players at Ellis Park Stadium in Johannesburg, South Africa, in 2009. Credit: Martin Meissner / Associated Press