I always liked the kazoo as a "melody instrument" that allows you to have your hands free for playing guitar, ukulele - or MD or Kantele at the same time. As I did some research during the last time I found some information about the history of the instrument.
(One of) the oldest printed descriptions seems to be on p. 229f of the book "L'Harmonie universelle" by Marin Mersenne from 1637. In a row of 5 "chalumeaus" the 4th instrument is an "onion flute". It is mentioned and described on the next page:
There also appears the name Eunuque (Eunuch flute), but it seems that "Eunuch flute" has up to then never been the name for the instrument. It is more likely that this was a misinterpretation of a word Mersenne wasn't able to read in a hand written description of the instrument he had received in a letter about 1633.
The principle of the instrument is described correctly by Mersenne - it is really a kazoo. At that time the membrane must have been of organic material, e.g. onion skin (is that word right in English?).
In the 18th century the name "Mirliton" was used for the instrument, that was often just made of a tube, like bamboo kazoo is still today.
And then I found that there are still makers who build that "mother of the kazoo"! Mine is mady by Thomas Rezanka, a teacher and bagpipe builder from Austria. I just like to share some photos with you. I don't have a sound sample yet - it sounds like you expect to sound a kazoo. Rezanka uses Bamboo skin as a membran (so that's very close to onion skin) - but of course if it breaks you can also use a piece of a (PE) sandwich bag etc.
Ah - one thing: you need one hand to hold the onion flute. But you could still strum your MD as a drone instrument with the right hand and hold the onion flute with the other and play both instruments together.
Just a joke: "onion flute" - literally...
Onion flute - removed membrane cover:
t Onion flute by Thomas Rezanka and Mersenne's illustration:
updated by @peter-w: 06/11/15 07:40:28AM