Also known as "Mirliton", it was a usual tribal instrument in Africa. The most common model is a hollow tube with a hole in the middle covered with animal membrane and open at both ends. A variety of materials were used, like bone, reed, gourds, corn stalks, animal horns and even human skulls. The instrument was used to impersonate the voices of the dead, to make terrifying sounds and to bring messages from the spirit world. To reveal the secret of the Mirliton to an outsider, a woman or an uninitiated male tribe member was an offense punishable by death.

The Kazoo as we know it today was designed and built by Alabama Vest and Thaddeus Von Clegg in Macon, Georgia In the early 1840's. In 1852 it was exhibited at the Georgia State Fair and was later manufactured under the name, because of its shape, "DOWN SOUTH SUBMARINE".