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       something new  Membranes (also referred to as diaphragms or resonators)

              

One of the most important parts of most kazoos is the membrane/diaphragm/resonator,    which amplifies and  distorts the player's voice. (gives the characteristic "buzzing" sound to the kazoo)  


I do not understand all the ways in which all the variables in membranes effect the sound of a kazoo.  At this point I mostly just play around with it until I get a sound I like and I can get a good sound on all the pitches.


Please send information about any diaphragm materials you many know of.
Also if you have any corrections.


See Also:
Onion Skin


Membranes such as onion skin, dimo, and any others that readily absorb moisture, are not good for Zobo, Songophones and others types of instruments where the diaphragm is perpendicular to  the mouthpiece, so that the material absorbs moisture from the breath  and quickly loses tension.  Although, it could be treated with something like wax or something that resists water.



Notes on the Manufacture of Goldbeater's Skin
http://cool.conservation-us.org/coolaic/sg/bpg/annual/v02/bp02-15.html



   NEW  See Also:

     
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                                                        Membrane Materials  
Thickness Flexibility/Stiffness Further Information
PLASTICS        
plastic grocery bags come in different thickness very flexible Can be adhered to the body of the kazoo, or to a removable frame (such as cardboard ring) or a circle of it cut to be used in kazoos such as the submarine type that contain it in the funnel or turret.
Or used with a support, like a comb.
plastic kitchen wrap very thin extremely flexible needs to be adhered to the body of the kazoo, or to a removable frame (such as cardboard ring)
Is best for small diameter diaphragms.  
mylar come in different thickness-- the thinner ones are similar to cellophane stiffer than plastic grocery bags Can be adhered to the body of the kazoo, or to a removable frame (such as cardboard ring) or a circle of it cut to be used in kazoos such as the submarine type that contain it in the funnel or turret.
Or used with a support, like a comb.
plastic candy wrappers similar to mylar stiffer than plastic grocery bags Can be adhered to the body of the kazoo, or to a removable frame (such as cardboard ring) or a circle of it cut to be used in kazoos such as the submarine type that contain it in the funnel or turret.
Or used with a support, like a comb.
shrink wrap from packaged goods the thickness varies  stiffness varies from very thin and flexible for meats and vegetable to quite stiff a possibility is to affix some to a cardboard ring or similar, then heat it just enough to stretch it tight
plastic from vaccuformed packaging the thickness varies  stiffness varies. Most may be too thick and stiff    
PAPERS Papers tend to react  adversely to moisture, including but not limited to, that in the player's breath. Paper could be oiled, waxed, or coated with acrylic medium to make it water resistant and less porous.  Also coated with gelatin.
Other coatings suggested by BobC on the Yahoo Oddmusic list are various resins, varnishes, epoxy, shellac, airplane cement,
glassine paper thin stiffer than plastic grocery bags Can be adhered to the body of the kazoo, or to a removable frame (such as cardboard ring) or a circle of it cut to be used in kazoos such as the submarine type that contain it in the funnel or turret.
Or used with a support, like a comb.
tissue paper thin-varies with type varies Can be adhered to the body of the kazoo, or to a removable frame (such as cardboard ring) or a circle of it cut to be used in kazoos such as the submarine type that contain it in the funnel or turret.
wax paper medium stiffer than plastic grocery bags and mylar, etc. Can be adhered to the body of the kazoo, or to a removable frame (such as cardboard ring) or a circle of it cut to be used in kazoos such as the submarine type that contain it in the funnel or turret.
Because of the wax, most glues will not hold it.
Rubberbands are generally used to fasten it to the outside of the body.
Bees wax could be used as an adhesive.
varnished paper  probably ? similar to wax paper mounted on a ring Patent #637261  Used in conjuction with a perforated metal diaphragm which limits the movement of the flexible one and adds additional harmonics to the sound.
NATURAL MATERIALS
Animal Materials
gold beater's skin DK DK mentioned as possible diaphragm material in some kazoo  patents http://www.facebook.com/pages/Goldbeaters-skin/115262458491079

Notes on the Manufacture of Goldbeater's Skin
http://cool.conservation-us.org/coolaic/sg/bpg/annual/v02/bp02-15.html
Spider egg sacks DK DK Usually is adhered to the body of the kazoo, but could be used on a removable frame (such as cardboard ring)
Plants Materials
Dimo very thin very flexible The dimo is a special membrane applied to the transverse Chinese flute called dizi (or di), giving the instrument its characteristic buzzing timbre.  It is crinkled up first and adhered with specific placement of wrinkles. Dimo is a lot more delicate than most plastic materials.  You need to be very gentle with it, because it tears easily.  I have found two somewhat different types:
  1. Comes as a narrow tube which needs to be slit on one side. Then a piece is cut out to cover the membrane hole.  I haven't used this yet, because most of my kazoos at this time require a larger diaphragm.
  2. Comes in sheets approximately 3.4" x 2.5" to 4.1" x 3.1"  Its larger size makes it possible to cover a larger hole.  I applied some by rubbing the freshly cut end of a garlic clove to the kazoo body around the hole.  It is somewhat difficult to apply with the correct tension without tearing. It turned out too loose, but gently wetting the material with water and allowing it to dry, caused it too shrink and become tight. But I was not able to control where the wrinkles formed.
Probably practice will make the process easier.

Tutorials on applying dimo to the dizi
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j6YmkHAnZyM
Onion skin DK DK is mentioned historically for use in kazoo type instruments, but so far I have found no information as to preparation and use. http://www.tlapitzalli.com/curinguri/gamitadera/gamite.html
mentions a wet onion skin, perforated at the center and tied with a cord

Here are instructions for how I made membrane from an onion.  
http://kazoologist.org/onion.html
 I have no idea if that is how it was done historically, but it looks like it is possible to use a membrane from onion on kazoos.
 latex or rubber  thin  flexible and elastic     Patent #591476  Used in conjuction with a perforated metal diaphragm which limits the movement of the flexible one and adds additional harmonics to the sound.
MISCELLANIOUS      
Aluminum Foil Varies not very Because even very thin foil is not as flexible as most common membrane materials, this only works if the diaphragm is large enough, at least the size of a tiolet paper roll. http://www.ehow.com/how_12064436_make-kazoo-foil.html
Silk paper DK DK DK Patent # 214010 mentions silk paper as a possible membrane material, but it is not clear what material is being referred to.  The term silk paper can refer to  paper make of silk fibers, or a paper with a silk like finish, including a very thin tissue paper. It is not known what was referred to as silk paper in 1879 when the patent was issued.
celluloid thin flexible and elastic Patent #591476  Used in conjuction with a perforated metal diaphragm which limits the movement of the flexible one and adds additional harmonics to the sound.
mica thin flexible and elastic Patent #591476  Used in conjuction with a perforated metal diaphragm which limits the movement of the flexible one and adds additional harmonics to the sound.
perforated metal stiff Patent #591476  Used in conjuction with another diaphragm of celluloid, mica or gutta percha (latex);
or  Patent # 637261 with varnished paper mounted on a ring.
cellophane thin stiffer than plastic grocery bags Can be adhered to the body of the kazoo, or to a removable frame (such as cardboard ring) or a circle of it cut to be used in kazoos such as the submarine type that contain it in the funnel or turret.
Or used with a support, like a comb.
NEW Cellophane is a semipermeable membrane, a thin transparent film made of cellulose.  It is sometimes used to wrap flowers and gifts. It can be easily confused with plastic wraps which are impereable to water.                                                    
If you put water on cellophane it will soften, dialate and even the other side of the sheet will become moist.  This does not happen with plastic.
Some cellophane is covered with a thin layer of water repellent nitrocellulose which makes it impermeable. This layer can be removed by immersing the cellophane in a solvent for varnish or perhaps acetone.  Use caution because these solvents are inflammable and toxic. They will also disolve some types of plastic.
http://www.funsci.com/fun3_en/exper2/exper2.htm

Other possible membranes to experiment with:  NEW
Some of them may work with kazoos, some may not.  Please let  me know if you have any information on these or other possibilities.
 Animal 
Membrane from spare ribs
http://www.instructables.com/id/BBQ-Ribs-low-and-slow-on-a-smoker/#step1
Egg
There are two semipermeable membranes in eggs; the one lining the shell and the extremely  thin one holding the yolk.
http://www.instructables.com/id/Bite-size-fried-eggs/step3/Remove-the-yolk-membrane/

 http://wiki.answers.com/Q/How_can_you_remove_an_egg_membrane_from_egg_shell#ixzz1m8Qs3kA0
says, "To remove the membrane from the shell simply add a generous amount of table salt and wait 24 hours...The membrane has moisture in it and salt removes the moisture,as the moisture is removed the membrane will begin to shrink and as it shrinks it will pull itself off of the shell"
 HOWEVER  that leaves you with a nice clean egg shell, but the membrane is destroyed in the process.
You can peel the membrane from the shell while still fresh, if you go carefully. It seems rather thick for a kazoo membrane and has a lot of curve to it.  When dry it is very stiff and brittle.
 Cellulose 
Dialysis Tubing
A semipermeable membrane made of cellulose
 Plant
Biodegradable plastic bags
This is a semipermeable membrane made from starch. When touched, this plastic is flabby, quite elastic and near rubbery.
http://www.funsci.com/fun3_en/exper2/exper2.htm
Whether this could be used with kazoos would depend on how fast and under what conditions they break down.

Other Membrane Considerations
kazoo membranes act  pretty much like drum heads
Instead of getting hit by a hand or stick and making the sound (vibrations), the sound hits the drum head and is amplified and distorted be the resulting harmonics.


Area--kazoos with larger membrane area size tend to be louder than small membranes when everything else is the same.  But there are a number of other factors involved
Stiffness<->Flexibility
Tension (Tightness)--is very important. Generally, the tighter the membrane is stretched when mounting, the less distortion and amplification.  The looser the more, up to a point when it is so loose it doesn't vibrate as much.  Before that point you get a sort of popping noise especially at the end of a note.
Thick<->Thin--


All of these interact.  If you change one, the others probably need to be changed also.
The better these things balance the larger voice range you can get.  If not balanced the higher notes may sound, but not the lower. or the lower notes may sound, but not the higher.

Interactions
The smaller the area of the membrane, the thinner it needs to be.  I can make a kazoo with a piece of plastic straw and kitchen cling type wrap, if is the larger size straw (at least 5/16") that you get at some fast food places.  I can't use the smaller diameter straws, because I can't find anything thinner than the kitchen wrap for the membrane.

When using a larger size diaphragm hole,  the membrane needs to be thick or stiff enough to support itself, or it sort of collapses and can't vibrate.   It is hard to stretch a too thin membrane tightly enough.

I have seen some instructions for making kazoos with perforations.  This would allow the use of a heavier or stiffer material.  This could also eliminate the necessity for an air exit hole.




How attached to body
--

Can be adhered to the body of the kazoo, or to a removable frame (such as cardboard ring) or a circle of it cut to be used in kazoos such as the submarine type that contain it in the funnel or turret.
Types of Glue--
Garlic --Cut a fresh garlic clove and rub one of the cut surfaces around the membrane hole. It gives your instrument a garlic smell, which probably fades over time, but if you have any aversion to garlic, use a different glue.   It does not work well with non-porous materials, such as plastics.
Rubber cement--works better on non-porous surfaces than most other glues do.
PVC like Elmer's glue can be used for some things but doesn't hold very well on non-porous surfaces.
Ejiao (donkey-hide gelatin) is a traditional kind of glue made from donkey rawhide. 
The area around the membrane hole to wetted with water and a piece of the glue rubbed around the surface until enough has rubbed off to hold the membrane.
other types of gelatin or animal skin based glue might be used, but it would need to be water soluble.  Some hide glues need to be heated to be applied and removed.

Bees wax can be used as an adhesive and also to smooth out an uneven surface; warm it in hands and roll out a thin snake of bees wax, place around the diaphragm hole and press the membrane to it adjusting to get the proper tension. Do not leave such an instrument in a very warm place, as bees wax melts very easily.

Rubberbands-- are sometimes used for fastening membrane that is wrapped over the end of a cylinder.


The  membrane may be applied smoothly,
or crinkled up -to varying degrees, then  uncrinkled -to varying degrees
The membrane on a dizi is applied with carefully placed creases running length wise of the instrument.