Buzzing device

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Images of bullroars from Africa

The buzzing device , also known as buzzing wood, ( English bull roarer ) is one of the oldest musical and sound transmission instruments. It belongs to the vortex aerophonic . The buzzing device has its roots in the Paleolithic , as evidence made of ivory , antlers and bones show. The use at that time is unclear: musical instrument, means of communication or ritual instrument, as with the Aborigines .

Sound generation

The buzzing device is a flat, mostly oval piece of wood or bone or the like, 15 to 50 cm in length with rounded edges, which is swung in a circle on a 1 to 2.5 meter long cord. The wood is rotated about itself and the cord is twisted. This creates eddies and the pressure variation of the eddies creates a deep, rising and falling sound that turns into a humming or buzzing sound as the speed increases. The tones are also created by the oscillation of the buzzing body. Its sound is unlike any other musical instrument and depends on the shape of the device and the speed of rotation. The sound, which can be heard from far and wide even in wind, means that communication with this instrument can be carried out over long distances. The typical frequency of the buzzers is around 80 Hz.


Mesolithic buzzing device, Pritzerbe site , Jerichower Land district museum

The BULLROARER was already in the Upper Paleolithic used, it in Central Europe finds in the city Havelsee at Fohrde in Brandenburg , in Stellmoor from the Ahrensburg culture in Schleswig-Holstein and in the Grotte de la Roche , Lalinde in the Dordogne from the Magdalenian in France are .

The buzzing device was used in a wide variety of cultures from Africa to Asia and Papua New Guinea to Australia and North and South America. In the rituals of African male societies and in obsession cults like Bori and Dodo in Nigeria, the piercing noises of the buzzing device were intended to frighten the women and keep them away from the ritual site. The evoked "spirit" wanted to achieve a similar terrifying effect when he used a voice distortion device (a hollow body with a Mirliton ) for his speeches.

Today it is used by the Aborigines of Australia and some Indian peoples of North America who call it Bullroarer. The Aborigines also use their buzzing devices, often richly painted and carved , called Bora-Bora , Bugurum or Tjuringa , for ritual communication with their ancestors and to initiate their ceremonies. The buzzing device appears in the Aboriginal Byamee and the Bullroarer dreamtime story . The Byamee is a dreamtime being who gives the buzzing device its own unique tones. When one of the best-known Australian political rock bands, Midnight Oil , recorded sounds of the buzzing device in their song Bullroarer (CD Diesel And Dust , 1987), they were heavily criticized by the Aborigines because these sounds belong to sacred rituals and these are not in songs may be played.

An example of use is shown in the film Crocodile Dundee II (1988). Here the protagonist uses the buzzing device as a means of communication.

Gow wants to identify the Greek Iynx ( ἴυγξ ) or the Roman rhombus as a buzzing device. It can also be a magical instrument that is rotated in place between two strings or serves as a symbol of Eros , as is also shown on Greek vases. Höpfner, on the other hand, identifies it as a top.


  • Alan Dundes : A Psychoanalytic Study of the Bullroarer . In: Man, New Series, Vol. 11, No. 2, June 1976, pp. 220-238
  • JR Harding: The Bull-Roarer in History and in Antiquity. In: African Music, Vol. 5, No. 3, 1973/1974, pp. 40-42
  • Hans Hickmann: Unknown Egyptian sound tools (aërophone). 1. Bucket wood and flywheel. In: Die Musikforschung , 8th year, issue 2/3, 1955, pp. 151–157
  • Emil Hoffmann: Lexicon of the Stone Age . CH Beck Verlag, Munich 1999, ISBN 978-3406421259 .
  • Otto Zerries : The buzzing wood. Study of the spread and meaning of the buzz in cult . Strecker and Schröder Verlag, Stuttgart 1942.

Web links

Commons : buzzing devices  - collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. Jearl Walker: The Flying Circus of Physics. Questions and answers. 9th edition. Oldenbourg Wissenschaftsverlag, 2008, ISBN 978-3-486-58067-9 , p. 184. Online on Google Books . Retrieved June 7, 2010
  2. ^ Neville H. Fletcher: Australian Aboriginal Musical Instruments: The Didjeridu, The Bullroarer And The Gumleaf . Research School of Physical Sciences Australian National University, Canberra and School of Physics, University of New South Wales, Sydney. Retrieved June 7, 2010.
  3. Illustration and explanation of a buzzing device from the late Paleolithic (14,000–10,000 BC) in the district museum Jerichower Land in Saxony-Anhalt . Retrieved June 7, 2010
  4. Replica of the buzzing device from the Ahrensburg culture , which consists of a reindeer shin ( Memento from March 22, 2010 in the Internet Archive ). Retrieved June 7, 2010
  5. Illustration of the buzzing device from the Grotte de la Roche in France . Retrieved June 7, 2010
  6. ^ Francis Edgar Williams : Bull-roarers in the Papuan Gulf. Bock, Government Printer, Port Moresby 1936. (Territory of Papua: Anthropology report. No. 17).
  7. ^ BM Blackwood, Henry Balfour: Ritual and Secular Uses of Vibrating Membranes as Voice Disguisers. In: The Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland, Vol. 78, No. 1/2, 1948, pp. 45-69, here p. 46
  8. ^ R. Lewis: The Beginner's Guide to Australian Aboriginal Art. The symbols, their meanings and some Dreamtime stories . 3. Edition. Fountainhead Press, Canning Vale DC 2004.
  9. Laetitia Vellutini: Finding a Voice on Indigenous Issues: Midnight Oil's Inappropriate Appropriations ( Memento of March 9, 2014 in the Internet Archive ). Retrieved June 7, 2010
  10. ASF Gow: ΙΥΓΞ, ΡΟΜΒΟΣ, rhombus, turbo . In: Journal of Hellenic Studies . Volume 54/1, 1934, pp. 1-13.
  11. ^ Grace W. Nelson: A Greek Votive Iynx-Wheel in Boston . In: American Journal of Archeology . Volume 44/4, 1940, pp. 443-456
  12. ^ For example, on a vase in the Berlin Museum, In. No. Berlin 1968.12.
  13. ^ Theodor Höpfner: Greek-Egyptian magic of revelation. With a detailed presentation of the Greek syncretic belief in demons and the requirements and means of magic in general and magical divination in particular . Wessel's studies on palaeography and papyrus studies 21. Leipzig, H. Hässel-Verlag 1921, § 604.