Irvin Mayfield Jr. That Sound Is Horrible

Mayfield Jr., issuing sweet sounds on the Elysian trumpet...

Title reference? Irvin Mayfield Jr. is the cultural ambassador of the city of New Orleans…and one hell of a trumpet player. That trumpet–or his Lucille–is the hand-crafted Elysian Trumpet, created to celebrate the victims of Hurricane Katrina and the city’s revitalization. Mayfield’s father perished in the disaster.

Mayfield plays the trumpet in his gigs and perhaps the best part of the trumpet’s burgeoning lore is the pageantry in how it travels. A older man, typically dressed in a black suit, travels as the official guard of the trumpet, and as I understand, the trumpet’s guard has deputized by the New Orleans police. It’s quite a regal sight.

Same wind family interest, much different sound...

The story of the vuvuzela is not as “storied.” The vuvuzela and the story of that specific South African stadium symphony of beers originated in the 1990s apparently when a Kaiser Chiefs F.C. fan adopted the horn used in Mexican games.

Recently TSG conducted a poll of your thoughts on the vuvuzela and the answers were decidedly split.

Here they are below:

And now our Jumble experts weigh in with their opinion. TSG simply asked….

4) Should the vuvuzelas be banned?

Neil Blackmon, senior writers,

Absolutely not, unless of course Philadelphia Eagles fans are prepared to be banned by visiting South Africans when they are too drunk, or the USC Trojans Marching Band is banned from playing “Conquest” for an entire game by Canadians on holiday from Vancouver….I digress.

Matt wonders whether maybe the problem is the player, not the instrument.

Aaron Stollar, sole proprietor The, BigSoccer Blog Network

Heck no.

The worst thing anyone can say about them is that they’re annoying. Well, so is the “official England band,” so are all Sounders fans and so are lots of things.

Yet, none of them should be banned either.

Annoying is an awfully low threshold to start banning stuff. The horns don’t hurt anyone and the constant English press-led whinining about them has been a terrible, if unsurprising, example of patronizing and snobbishness on the part of the English.

Richard Farley, ringleader

Cultural issues are a sticky wicket, and unless there is a very compelling reason for mandating that the South Africas forgo something they’ve incorporated into their game, I’d rather learn to deal with it.  But, I also don’t find the noise at all offensive.  I was far more perturbed about Thunder Sticks.

Connor Walsh, lead typist NinetyPlus, occasional TSG contributor

I propose a compromise, let them in during matches where an African team is playing, and ban them otherwise.  I personally find them quite annoying.  I want to hear the fans and chants and songs.

Matthew, TSG

I’ve been in full support of the vuvuzelas for awhile, though I do concede that we’re missing out on the team chants and hearing the crowd exaltation or exasperation. I’m wondering if the problem isn’t the vuvuzelas themselves but the tourists that are blowing them whenever they feel like it.

Are they blown constantly during South African club games? That I don’t know.

I think if the South Africans fans have an issue with them then that’s one thing, but, if not, then they should be played. Period.


Your thoughts?

16 responses to this post.

  1. It takes away the rise and the fall of emotion in atmosphere of the games and makes it pretty monotone. I was watching Argentina v S. Korea this morning before work and it failed to register that South Korea scored just before the half because there was no change – just the constant drone.

    I’ve grown accustomed to the noise, but heading over to a fully packed local establishment to get some atmosphere is pretty much the only way to watch this World Cup – since I’m coming into town tomorrow to watch is perhaps the only reason I’m not taking tomorrow off.


  2. Posted by T-Muck on 2010/06/17 at 10:34 AM

    My biggest fear with them is that someone back here in the US is going to say, “hey, that’s really cool and gimmicky, let’s sell them for US soccer games here in the States.” Next thing you know, you have Daddy taking little Johnny to a US game he sees the horn and sees a huge noise maker and wants one. Dad says well it’s only $5 why not, next thing you know every US game from now on is going to have that same buzzing sound.

    I’m fine with it for a month, I hope to God it doesn’t catch on any where else.


  3. Posted by Damon on 2010/06/17 at 10:43 AM

    Have them filter out that frequency for the TV broadcasts- problem sovled. Sucks for the people who are at the game but I somehow doubt the noise would be enough to keep people from going.


  4. Posted by John on 2010/06/17 at 10:58 AM

    The vuvuzelas are as annoying as thundersticks or any other annoying crowd prop gimmick. (If you get to attend an NBA game you will notice that they are all used in effect there)


    Why complain about it? Unless FIFA does away with them (which they are not, at least for the world cup) or you get the BBC (which their coverage still contains the horns just very muted) then all you do is turn into the cranky old man complaining about the kids playing music too loud.

    I sat at the bar on Saturday morning watching the Argentina game and while myself and 7 other people enjoyed the play and the fun of drinking at 9:00 in the morning… two guys just sat there complaining about the noise…. THE WHOLE TIME.

    I guess if you have nothing better to do with your life than begrudge the sound then so be it, but it isn’t going away, so the least you could do is not sound akin to Andy Rooney.


  5. “Are they blown constantly during South African club games? That I don’t know.”

    Matt, To answer your question: No. On ESPN I read an article from a South African man that was against the vuvuzelas use:

    In the article he says that he liked them during club games because
    a) there were much less people blasting them
    b) In SA club matches they were usually mainly used the last 15-20 of the match by fans whose teams were losing (see below):

    “In PSL matches, it is used more towards the end of a game when fans are trying to blow their opposition away, particularly if their team is losing. Of course, a lot of the people going to the World Cup have never been to a PSL match and don’t know this.”

    So I think your point about the problem being the tourists who are blowing them is spot on. Even more interesting though is that South Africans blow them very loudly with pride. I don’t think they should be banned but people could stop blowing them as much. In order to do that then there would have to be a group decision say the biggest fan group for a particular country would have to come out and say that in the next game they won’t play them at all (or better yet the story gets out that vuvuzelas should only be played at certain decided upon times.)

    Will this happen. probably not, I do think though as the tournament moves past the group stages there will be less vuvuzelas played because the respective team fans will have a larger share of the seats and people will grow collectively tired of playing them. They started to play them loudly because of “mob-mentality” and they will go away for the same reason. Chants might break through in more crucial matches. I miss the chants.


    • Posted by matthewsf on 2010/06/17 at 11:02 AM

      Eric — thanks for linking to that — I was hoping someone knew that answer. (sorry didn’t have time to research it)


    • Posted by DeuceForPrez on 2010/06/17 at 2:53 PM

      If the tourists didn’t play them, I doubt there are enough South Africans at each game to keep up the constant buzz. Either the federations should police their fans or as mentioned, the fans need to police themselves. I doubt a federation would risk the bad PR by telling their fans not to play them though.


  6. Posted by matthewsf on 2010/06/17 at 11:09 AM

    (Non-soccer) – Thought I would just add that the Lucille reference above is to B.B. King. His signature guitar is named Lucille.


  7. Sure, it’s a tradition, but it sounds like it’s a tradition for the club teams, not the national team. So to take things a step further, it sounds like the difference between the way a vuvuzela is used at a club v. how it is being used at the World Cup would be like saying that fans singing “You’ll Never Walk Alone” at a Liverpool match is the same as fans peeing “You’ll Never Walk Alone” onto the backs of the shirts of fans sitting in front of you at the match. Part of it is the same, but most of it is different from the tradition and highly annoying. South Africa can create a new, less obnoxious tradition since blowing plastic horns can’t be a very old tradition anyway.


  8. Posted by ed on 2010/06/17 at 3:07 PM

    growing up in central callifornia, where there is a large hispanic population, we’ve always had these horns blown at games. sure, it’s not at the scale as being blown over at the wc, but that’s just numbers.

    honestly, if the press wouldn’t bring it up every five seconds, people would stop as well.


  9. Posted by kaya on 2010/06/17 at 6:11 PM

    I’m not sure why so many people, even those from California, seemed to be so taken back by these vuvuzela. As ed says above, the latino population has been bringing them to matches for quite some time. They’re a lot less annoying in the numbers I’m accustomed to, however.
    I don’t see why all the “cultural sensitivity” is warranted, however. I’d much rather hear the crowd get into the game. I think they may well eliminate the “12 th man” advantage in the games, which will mean the europeans will probably moan and groan about what a terrible tournament it is due to them (in 2002 they blamed the officiating and being too pro-asian or something for a “terrible tournament”.)


  10. Posted by Joe on 2010/06/17 at 6:47 PM

    I’ll admit that during last summers Confederation’s Cup, I was a bit put off by the sound and watched a few matches at low or muted volume. This summer, though, I was prepared for and expecting the vuvuzelas, and have come to accept them as something that makes this World Cup unique. I think I’d be pretty disappointed at this point if I were to turn on a match and not hear them. Also, waking up at 7am to a chorus of vuvuzelas really puts a pep in your step all day.


  11. Posted by T-Muck on 2010/07/20 at 6:19 AM

    Ok, I know this post is a little old, but I figured it’s appropriate:

    I can understand the ban, but seriously “pose unnecessary risks to public safety” you couldn’t come up with a better excuse than that. Everyone would completely understand if you came out and said “we find these things more annoying and horrific sounding than a Miley Cyrus and Shaq duet, so we’re banning them.”

    Public safety? Really, are you worried about the sanity of everyone in the stadium or something? Its a thin plastic horn, I could beat someone for and hour with one before they even started to bruise. Or do they think everyone is going to beat the crap out the little kid that thinks it’s cool to blow it all game? Don’t get me wrong, I’m ok with the ban. It’s an African soccer thing, not let’s infect every match with the stupid buzzing noise thing. I don’t want every match I turn to have this constant buzz, that drives my wife so insane she’s threaten to divorce me during the world cup.


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