World Cup Horn: The Vuvuzela

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Now that the FIFA World Cup is in full gear, the vuvuzela  – pronounced voo-voo-ZAY-lah – is fair game for a Horn Matters article.

This horn is basically a noise-maker that enthusiastic fans toot in the hundreds, if not thousands during games. Like the typical Western brass instrument, it requires the player to buzz their lips to make a sound.

The sound is raw and raucous – somewhat similar to a French horn or trombone with its main tuning slide taken out.

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While hundreds enjoy and participate in joyful tooting, others might call it a nuisance – even a danger. If a crowd of them gets going it can in fact get dangerously loud.

PHOTO CREDIT: Associated Press

The video below registers a single blast at close range at around 140 decibels.

Compare that to these measurements:

  • 20 dB = soft whisper
  • 70 dB = vacuum cleaner
  • 90 dB = screaming child
  • 100 dB = jackhammer, chainsaw
  • 120 dB = car horn at 3 feet
  • 140dB = gunshot

These issues aside, I could easily imagine how blowing on one of these during a game would be fun. I would love it – wearing ear plugs.

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