Bolero, Meet Vuvuzela
David Berreby is the author of "Us and Them: The Science of Identity." He has written about human behavior and other science topics for The New Yorker, The New York Times Magazine, Slate, Smithsonian, The New Republic, Nature, Discover, Vogue and many other publications. He has been a Visiting Scholar at the University of Paris, a Science Writing Fellow at the Marine Biological Laboratory, a resident at Yaddo, and in 2006 was awarded the Erving Goffman Award for Outstanding Scholarship for the first edition of "Us and Them." David can be found on Twitter at @davidberreby and reached by email at david [at] davidberreby [dot] com.
The vuvuzela is not a popular instrument outside of South Africa. World Cup players from other nations complain that it breaks their concentration, broadcasters have trouble making their commentaries heard over the buzzing, and there is plenty of evidence that vuvuzela blasts can cause hearing loss and spread germs. Still, there is something special—something in the realm of dogs walking upright or porpoises tending bar—about a vuvuzela version of Ravel's Bolero.
Wind-instrumentalists from the Konzerthaus Berlin give it a shot in this video (the Bolero is at about 1:55, after a bit of vuvuzela'd Brahms and some discussion of how they managed to make this thing play more than one buzzing note). Probably best not to try this at home.
Swanepoel de W, & Hall JW 3rd (2010). Football match spectator sound exposure and effect on hearing: a pretest-post-test study. South African medical journal = Suid-Afrikaanse tydskrif vir geneeskunde, 100 (4), 239-42 PMID: 20459971