Wednesday, June 16, 2010


Weapons of mass earsplitting destruction or harmless fun?

The vuvuleza is manufactured in a wide spectrum of colours, unlike opinion of it which is sharply divided between love and hate. It is currently receiving world-wide attention due to its contribution to the celebration of the football World Cup currently in session.

Its estimated that the one metre in length vuvuleza can emit a sound approximately 130 decibels loud; the most commonly manufactured instruments are pitched at B flat below middle C, very close to the frequency of human speech.

The BBC has received hundreds of complaints about the playing of vuvuleza spoiling viewers enjoyment of the sport, football players have requested fans to desist from its playing during the match and FIFA the organizational body co-coordinating the World Cup have decided not to ban it from matches.

There's considerable apian imagery associated with descriptions of its sound. Its constant drone being likened to having one's head thrust into a giant hive full of very angry bees.

The BBC sports commentator Farayi Mungazi stated that the sound of the horn was the "recognised sound of football in South Africa" and that it is "absolutely essential for an authentic South African footballing experience". He also said there was no point in taking the World Cup to Africa and then "trying to give it a European feel". The chief sports reporter of the Daily Telegraph Paul Kelso described critics of the vuvuleza as "killjoys" and said they should "stop moaning". South African football supporters themselves insist that the instrument is part of their national culture and claim those objecting to it are in fact being intolerant of an integral part of their national culture.

The phrase 'part of the national culture' seems to justify and vindicate all sorts of bizarre behaviour these days, from getting drunk on a Saturday night, to the waving of flags and engaging in war. Against a background of such behaviour the vuvuleza seems a harmless enough enthusiasm.

Its with some hesitation that I am filing this posting under the label of 'music', but then to some the compositions of Karlheinz Stockhausen, for example, barely equate as music. All that one can be certain of is that the world is becoming a place of highly subjective and arguementative opinion, with no centre or fulcrum upon which to establish that most elusive of human values, namely, truth, as regards this subject. One man's joyful sound is another man's irritating noise!
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