Roberto Velázquez Cabrera

Firs version November 30, 2000. Last actualization September 30, 2001

Fig. 1. A copy of my first whistle

The objective of this paper is to provide more details of my first aerophone, included In a previous study [1].

More than 50 years ago, I made my first aerophone with a "corcholata" (metallic cup for soda and beer bottles), flattened, bended and with two holes near the center, like the one shown in Figure 1. The metallic plug (with out the cork), was lightly flattened with a hammer and then laid (with a chewd gum) on a railroad track, to be very well flattened by the iron wheels. Then, with a nail, two holes were made, opposite and equidistant from the center. Kids from my home town used to play with this "zumbador" (buzzer) or "gallito" (little cock), operated with a long cord introduced in the holes and loop tied. The cord was sustained with the annular fingers of both hands, with a circular movement the cord was twisted and when it was stretched and relaxed the flattened plug rotated to a great velocity in one direction and in the contrary. The game was between two players, face to face, to cut the cord of the adversary. These toys folded (with out the cord and with the two holes located in a near distance face to face) could be converted in other very noisy toy. The new play was a competition to see who could make the loudest sound. This sound is very rich in components of high frequencies, maybe due to its special small simple, flattened and open resonating chamber and its two holes of small length (or thickness of the wall).

Some years ago, when I started the study of Mexican aerophones, I realized that these toys were similar (considering the sounding mechanism) to those used in Ancient Mexico (actual zone from south of USA to Nicaragua). In my opinion, Florentine Codex includes a Mexica aerophone of this type, in the upper left corner of Figure 2.

Fig. 2. Florentine Codex.

Book XII. Mixcoacalli Instruments. Lam. 70


Jorge Dájer included in his book [2] a picture of a Purepecha bone aerophone, called by him "ocarina" (Figure 3). It is very similar to the aerophone of Florentine Codex.


Fig. 3. Ocarina from Araró (Dajerīs Picture)

It seems that similar whistles were used in several zones of the world. In an Armagaudīs book [3] she writes:

"Les enfants turcs font des sifflets anlogues avec une capsule de bouteille aplatie, pliée en deux à 30° environ et percée de part en part avec un clou, environ au tiers du rayon qui est à angle droit de pliure. Ces sifflet existent aussi en poterie (Amérique du Sud) ou en ivoire (Groënland)."

The sound can be analyzed with the 2D spectrogram of Figure 4. There are loud colored noise signals in the range of 2 kHz to 7 kHz.

Fig. 4. Spectrogram in 2 dimensions.

The power spectrum is shown in Figure 5. The big crests of the sound are shown more clearly.

The description of the sounding mechanism and the functioning of the whistle is very similar to the Black Stone Aerophone [1].



  1. Velázquez-Cabrera, Roberto, "Black stone aerophone". The Spanish version of this paper was presented in the Computing International Conference CIC-2000, held in the National Politecnic Institute, Mexico City, on the 16h of November, 2000. (
  2. Dájer, Jorge. "Los artefactos Sonoros Precolombinos, Desde su Descubrimiento en Michoacan", FONCA-ELA. México. 1995.
  3. Armengaud, Cristine, "Musique Vertes", 3. Ed. Cristine Bonneton Editeur, 1984. ISBN 2-862353-044-1. This reference was provided by Uli Wahl. He is an expert and has a site on Kite (Aeolian) Musical Instruments. (

Note. My brother Guillermo Velázquez made some correction to my Spanglish.
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