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DAMn° magazine # 25 / VUVUZELA ORCHESTRA

Viva Vuvuzela The Sound of Music? Since the football World Cup introduced the vuvuzela to the world, this 50cm long plastic horn has been tagged as the scourge that drives people completely crazy with its unrelenting drone. Yet – bravely or into the abyss – Cape Town-based music educator Pedro Espi-Sanchis makes the claim for vuvus as instruments and their love-hate status hasn’t stopped him composing music for them. text VEERLE DEVOS



DAMn° magazine # 25 / VUVUZELA ORCHESTRA

Previous spread: Music educator Pedro EspiSanchis with the orchestra he takes with him on a world tour to teach people how to play the tuned vuvuzela. © Photo: Karl Simons This page, clockwise: The Vuvuzela Orchestra Vuvu Semi circle caroussel Vuvu booket © Photos: Pedro Espi-Sanchis Obsidian Glass vuvuzela © Photo: Obsidian Glass Pedro Espi-Sanchis © Photo: Karl Simons

For Pedro Espi-Sanchis ‘The vuvuzela is an exciting instrument that can play in an orchestra as easily as a flute, violin or cello.’ This may require many to take a leap of faith too far, but his undoubted enthusiasm and the vuvuzela’s history extends further than expressing disgust at the referee’s eyesight. ‘It’s a proudly South African instrument with deep roots in local traditional music: the Icilongo and the Mhalamhala, which are both made out of the horn of the Kudu antelope. This instrument is not really used for music making, but rather to give signals that something important is happening in the community.’ Plastic vuvuzelas used by football fans only have one tone. ‘The sound of the vuvuzelas I heard at games was not musical at all,’ concedes Espi-Sanchis. ‘Vuvuzelas need to play rhythms together to really show their power.’ After realising this, he decided to make the horns longer and shorter, until he got seven different pitches. In 2006 he even launched the Vuvuzela Orchestra and created compositions for it. With this orchestra project Espi-Sanchis teaches in South African townships and in schools all over the world, promoting the range of his pet instrument. ‘I want to bring the joy of making music

to as wide a range of individuals as possible. Our connection with the football world allowed us to run several pre-match workshops in South Africa, training many fans who frequently perform at matches.’ Just like the Vuvuzela Orchestra did many times at the World Cup, taking advantage of the free publicity created by the audio controversy surrounding the horns. Espi-Sanchis is obviously a glass half-full guy, undaunted by the global grumbling, ‘If anything the bad reputation of the vuvuzela makes my work making people aware of its rhythmic and musical possibilities of the instrument even more urgent.’ And while some environmental blogs have highlighted more eco-friendly options such as Obsidian’s glass vuvus and those produced by Kelp Environmental Learning Project, whether the vuvuzela will reach beyond the rowdy terraces and into the hearts of music lovers to become the 21st century’s number one tooter remains to be seen.

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Viva Vuvuzela: The Sound of Music?  

Since the football World Cup introduced the vuvuzela to the world, this 50cm long plastic horn has been tagged as the scourge that drives pe...

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