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                                           Kazoo Science 1 --The Basic Tube Mirliton

In order to design mirlitons that work the way you want them to, it is important to understand how they work and how changing different aspects effects the sound and other properties.

Anyone can do these experiments. (Younger children may need help with cutting and hole poking.)
In addition to discovering information specifically about kazoos, it teaches scientific method.

I would enjoy hearing about your experiments. You can email me at motleyjust@aol.com.

Basic tube mirliton

Materials

kazoo body--Cardboard tube from toilet paper rolls.
membrane material-- plastic grocery bag.
rubberband
a pencil to poke holes.
Use a pencil to poke a hole in the side of a toilet paper tube, equal distance from either end.
Cover one end with 4" square of plastic grocery bag, and hold in place with a rubberband.  Membrane material should be snug, but not stretched too tightly.  This is your control model. Variations will be studied by making instruments like this, but with one thing changed.  

                                           building the basic tube mirliton

                  Experiments

   Playing methods

The first several experiments are done with just the basic control instrument.
As you do each of the following make notes on your observations including, but not limited to the differences between each.
Mouth hole--Hum into:
a) the open end hole.  The most sound comes from the membrane end.
b) the covered end hole.  The most sound comes from the open end.
c) the side hole.  Sound comes from the open end and from the membrane end.  I don't know which has the most sound.  I think it may depend on which the  side hole is closer to.
What part of the instrument does the sound come from in each case?

Type of humm--
Syllable--use various syllables when you hum and note the sounds and differences

Suggested hums
a) doooo
b) hmmmm
c) hoooooo
d) rrrrrrrrrrrrr
e) brrrrrrrrr\
f) eeeeeeee
g) ahhhhhh

others you can think of.
h)
i)
j)


Pitch
The pitch of the notes are determined by the pitch (how high or low) you hum. To some extent the range (how high and low notes it can produce) is determined by the vocal range of the player. Some instruments may produce high notes better than others; and some may produce low notes better.  Find how high and low of sounds you can make with your instrument.  How do they differ from notes produced by people with higher or lower voices.

                       Experiments

         Instrument differences

In these experiments the actual instrument is changed. Test the variations with the various playing methods above.

As you do each of the following make notes on your observations including, but not limited to the differences between each.
Body length
Materials-
kazoo body--Several cardboard tubes like from toilet paper rolls, paper towel rolls, wrapping paper rolls.
membrane material--plastic grocery bag.
rubberbands  preferably identical.
a pencil--to poke holes.

Use the original directions to  make instruments using different lengths of tube. Try to have the diameter and thickness of the tubes the same. If you can't find different length tubes of same diameter and thickness, use the longest tube you can and cut it into three different lengths (short, medium and long)

Body diameter
Materials-
kazoo body--Cardboard tubes of same length but different diameters.
membrane material--plastic grocery bag
rubberbands  preferably identical.
a pencil-- to poke holes.

Side hole position
Materials-
kazoo body--Several cardboard tubes from toilet paper rolls.
membrane material--plastic wrap, plastic grocery bags, wax paper, regular paper, chip bags etc.
rubberbands  preferably identical.
A pencil to poke holes.

Use the original directions to  make instruments, but put the side hole
a) in the middle
b) closer to the open end
c) closer to the covered end
Side hole size
Materials-
kazoo body--Several cardboard tubes from toilet paper rolls.
membrane material--plastic grocery bag.
rubber bands--preferably identical.
a pencil  to poke holes.

Use the original directions to  make instruments, but make the side hole
a) pencil size
b) smaller than pencil size
c) larger than pencil size

Membrane material
Materials-
kazoo body--Several cardboard tubes from toilet paper rolls.
membrane material--plastic wrap, plastic grocery bags, wax paper, regular paper, chip bags etc. different thicknesses, stiffness, etc.
rubberbands  preferably identical.
a pencil\b0  to poke holes.

Use the original directions to make instruments using different materials for the membrane.

Membrane tightness
Materials
kazoo body--Several cardboard tubes from toilet paper rolls.
membrane material\b0 --plastic grocery bag
rubberbands\b0  preferably identical.
a pencil\b0  to poke holes.

Use the original directions to make instruments. Vary the tightness of the membrane. (ei. snug, but not too tight; very tight; very loose.)