|This article relies on references to primary sources. (February 2007)|
The bazooka is a brass musical instrument several feet in length which incorporates telescopic tubing like the trombone. Often, people construct very simple bazookas with scavenged materials: two pipes and a funnel. From its start within a lipreed mouthpiece (which may consist of nothing but the bare tube or employ a mouthpiece which is handmade to emulate one from a low brass instrument), the air column expands into a wide length of pipe which slides freely around a narrower length of pipe which itself terminates in a widely flaring bell.
Although the slide action of the bazooka appears to alter pitch, this isn't the case due to the extremely wide diameter of the horn's tubing. Manipulating the horn's length changes tone quality as subtle harmonic overtones fluctuate. This effect gives the bazooka its characteristic warbling, echoing sound.
In reality, all of the bazooka's notes produce purely in falset. In other words, the player's lips produce pitches as they vibrate on the bare pipe end or in conjunction with the optional mouthpiece and leadpipe unit but not in resonance with the full tube length of the instrument. Unlike the trombone, the remainder of the bazooka works mainly as a megaphone to amplify the volume of the sound.
Radio comedian Bob Burns, who has the credit of inventing the instrument some 20 years earlier, popularized the bazooka in the 1930s. Jazz musicians Noon Johnson and Sanford Kendrick also played the bazooka.
The word “bazooka” originates from an extension of the word “bazoo”, which is slang for “mouth” or “boastful talk” and which ultimately probably stems from Dutch bazuin (trumpet).