An air horn is a sound-producing device by air under pressure. It is initially designed to create a sound for several purposes, like signaling as well as for music. This device has a source that produces compressed air that passes into its horn through its diaphragm. This compressed air that passed through created an airwave making the diaphragm vibrate. The horn then amplifies these sound waves. This type of device is sometimes attached to vehicles like trucks, busses, ambulances, and trains as a horn. However, this signaling device is also used as a musical instrument. Interesting right?
How the Air Horn Works?
An air horn has a metal or plastic horn that is usually called ‘bell.’ It is attached to an air chamber that has a metal diaphragm. Through this metal diaphragm, the compressed air flows, causing a vibration, which later turns into sound waves. Its flaring horn helps to transform the sound created from the air horn’s diaphragm to the open air, making the produced sound louder. Aside from that, it also determines the sound’s wavelength. Thus, determining the pitch produced by the instrument. For instance, the longer the horn, the lower its pitch will be.
Air Horns, if placed in a ship, functions as a whistle. However, instead of the usual diaphragm, the compressed air escapes through a resonator chamber and creating sound waves. In these types of horns, the resonator determines the pitch that the horn will produce.
Air Horn in Vehicles
Nowadays, air horns were also used by vehicles like trucks and ambulances, mainly for signaling. With this attached on the vehicles, it signals people and other vehicles to clear the way. Moreover, the recognizable sound of this horn also signals an emergency. The horn’s sound is usually integrated into the vehicle’s electronic siren, which transfers the sound through the horn, amplifying the sound.
Meanwhile, trucks have different air horn sound in comparison to the train’s horn. The train’s horns were initially similar to trucks, but because of an incident, it was then changed to as it is now. Before, when train’s horns were still similar to trucks, a driver mistook a train for a truck, therefore causing an accident. Since then, trains have a differentiated sound from the truck’s horn. In fact, some trains in North America have at least two horns with two different sounds.
Also, after the said incident, the federal law requires the locomotives to ring their horns fifteen to twenty seconds before reaching or entering the level crossing. Nevertheless, federal law exempted the use of these horns in locations with a quite zone ordinances. In the subsequent years, it has become a fad for cars enthusiast to include a large horn on their vehicles.
Air Horns in Music
Aside from using vehicle horns, air horns were also used by the National Hockey League whenever the home team scores a goal. Aside from that, the NHL, Major League Baseball (MLB), and National Football League (NFL) also use air horns when their team scores a goal. These air horns were usually accompanied by music. As well as that, air horns were also used in some reggae music. Interestingly, the first musical genre to use the air horn was the Jamaican dancehall music. In fact, they had been using air horns in music for more than twenty-six years in several live shows as well as in mixed tape recordings. Also, air horns were used in Puerto Rican reggaeton, also known as regueton, a music style that originated from Puerto Rico during the late 80s and 90s. Subsequently, the sound effect created by the air horn was then used in hip hop music.
In 2016, the Air Horn Orchestra had gathered at the North Carolina’s Governor’s Mansion. They gathered there for about thirty weeks, beginning on April 30 up until November 2, 2016, as a protest against Governor Pat McCrory. They also protest against the House Bill 2, also known as the Public Facilities Privacy and Security Act. The Air Horn Orchestra then created loud and disruptive noises. On their 30th and final performance, the Air Horn Orchestra has reported having about 342 participants. The team’s performance, as well as their participant’s count, was expected to obtain a Guinness Book of World Record.