A mix between a trombone and a sliding whistle, the bazooka is an instrument developed by an Arkansas Radio Disc Jockey in the early 20th century. In the end, the instrument’s small range of notes and the comic sound were some of the culminating factors that led to its decline in the dark at the end of the 20th century.
Bazooka was developed by Arkansas radio personality Bob Burns in 1905. According to the Arkansas Encyclopedia, the instrument was invented when Burns blew into a pipe at a plumbing store. He later decided to connect two pipelines along with other miscellaneous pieces such as a slide handle, a whiskey funnel and a trombone-like nozzle. The sound produced by this raw instrument was capricious for it to be known throughout the state.
The primary sound of a bazooka is produced by buzzing lips in the mouthpiece. Although there is a sliding function, it does little to change the pitch due to the wide diameter of the tube. The horn is typically homemade from junk material, which makes the instrument sound quite incomplete, especially in
Difference between a bazooka and a trombone
While both trombone and bazooka are instruments where the sound is produced by buzzing lips in a mouthpiece, there is little else in common. It is true that both instruments have a sliding mechanism, but the trombone uses the sliding path as a way to control the instrument’s tone in an expert way, while the bazooka’s slider usually has no purpose. In fact, the rest of the bazooka is essentially a raw megaphone. The material in both instruments is also very different: Bazooka’s crude oil reflects the scrap materials that make up its body, while the trombone’s refined brass is heard in its aesthetically pleasing sound.
The Bazooka today
Other than a bazooka on display at the Arkansas Entertainers Hall of Fame, some of the original instruments remain. There were several artists who played bazookas since Bob Burns, most notably New Orleans jazz musician Noon Johnson in the mid – 20s. Today, it is difficult to find a musician who can still play this raw instrument. Bazooka’s legacy may live on in its name after soldiers who fought during World War II, called a new anti-tank missile launcher ‘bazooka’ because it looked like the instrument developed by Bob Burns decades earlier.