Vuvuzela: why to love it? Lessons from ethnomusicological classes

These days there’s a lot of “buzz” about the usage of vuvuzela instruments at the World Cup Football in South Africa. People seem to be annoyed by the “vuu-vuu” noize. Nevertheless, I want to make a case for the Vuvuzela.




A couple of years ago I was glad to take a class called “ethnomusicology”. Ethnomusicology is a branch within musicology. The first studies social and cultural aspects of music in local and global contexts as opposed to the latter which is more designed for and dedicated to Western art music (classical music). So to speak, ethnomusicology studies music as a human, social and cultural phenomenon.

Lesson from the classes about African music

One crucial aspect about the “music” (regardless of their diversity) in African societies is that it was (is) an inseparable part of societal live. This means e.g. that African music has to be understood within the realms of other structures that evolve around the “tones” and “noises”. Those structures are: events (religious or profane: a celebration), dance moves, costumes,  body paintings, …

Well, I guess you already start to see the link between the world cup and the vuvuzela. It’s just a habit, a ritual  – so don’t be annoyed by it.

The “vuu-vuu” noise as a means to a state of trance

Some traditional African music had the aim to get in some sort of “trance” in order to get closer to nature or God (for instance). I believe the monotone sound of the Vuvuzela is rather reverberating instead of annoying. I can imagine that the players on the pitch never really notice the “vuu-vuu” sound – but instead feel a certain “drive”, “tempo” that encourages their play.


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