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Zelda Ocarina - Buy an Ocarina

Updated on September 19, 2012

The ocarina, container flute or ball flute, is a small one-piece instrument with a round shape, which is allocated to the kind of flutes without trained beak or flutes with existing nuclear fission, the beak flutes. Ocarinas made ​​of fired clay and glazed, air-dried clay, wood or a gourd. For special requirements, other materials such as plastic or metal are used.

Ocarina Design

The name comes from the Emilia-Romagna and roughly means "little goose". These ocarinas, made ​​of clay, which were developed there and played in the alpine folk music were played with both hands, depending on the model, have four to twelve holes (the double-and triple-system, however, have significantly more). They come in a variety of forms, such as pear-shaped, cushion-shaped and fleshy. Also, Ocarinascan be obtained in various animal shapes such as turtles. The Inca Ocarina has four holes on the front, two on the back (for the thumbs).

African vessel flutes are made of a small gourd or the stone shell of another fruit. The Anblaskante is located at the upper opening at the narrow end of the calabash. On two opposite sides each have an opening for the index finger of the left and right hand. Vessel flutes are known by others in Mozambique, the Venda in South Africa and Uganda. In Uganda they are called kigwari, and ebundi kigwara.

Experts estimate ocarinas are over 12,000 years old, they were represented in many ancient civilizations and have also been played by the Mayans, Incas and Aztecs. There, they usually had the shape of birds or other animals, while the vessel flutes Xun mentioned in ancient Chinese Empire were more ovoid.

History of Clay Ocarinas

In the middle of the 19th Century the Italian Giuseppe Donati from Budrio developed the beet shape prevalent today, with a range of one and a half octaves, the 10-hole ocarina. He built his instruments in several sizes, from small Soprano Ocarina to the large Bass Ocarina. The first public performance of an Ocarina quintet took place in 1863 in Budrio.

On the basis of Donatis 10-hole ocarina, Takashi Aketagawa developed the first 12-hole ocarina in 1928, an internationally very popular design.

By 1965 the instrument maker Joseph Plaschke from South Tyrol with the help of folk musicians Franz Kofler improved the ocarina, which has since then been used in the German and Austrian folk music . Kurt Posch from Braz further developed the instrument in 1990.

There are now dozens of global manufacturers for ocarinas, ocarinas which continually improved. For example, "Hind" begane to create wooden ocarinas in the classic "Sweet Potato" shape - and in the "Walnut" shape. "Mountainocarinas" developed "outdoor ocarinas" consisting of the "in-line" form, which consists of materials such as aluminum, polycarbonate, Corian and various hardwoods. In recent years, multi-compartment-specific forms of "Sweet Potato" were developed, the "Double" - "Triple" - and "quadruple" system, based on the imaginary Luigi Silvestri multi-chamber system.

In addition to the ocarina, there are a few other instruments, which operate on the same principle, for example, the Gemshorn.

Design of Clay Ocarinas

  • "Inca Ocarina". The original South American design of the ocarina. Is nowadays usually only sold as souvenirs to tourists. Therefore, often poorly, or not at all tuned.
  • "Egg Ocarina." Ocarina in egg shape. Usually with 4-hole system. Was widespread in the old Chinese Empire.
  • "Pendant". "Hanging around his neck" for the ocarina-conceived design. Usually 4 -, 5 - or 6-hole system, often referred to as the "English pendant" to the system of Langley.
  • "Inline". Elongated, recorder like shape. 8 holes at the top, two thumb holes on the bottom. In contrast to the "Sweet Potato" the mouth piece is not perpendicular to the ocarina or the holes, but "in a row" as well.
  • "Walnut". Basically as "inline". Somewhat more rounded design.
  • "Block Ocarina". Invented by Richard Voss, 4-hole ocarina. Can provide deeper tone with a movable piston by one whole step.
  • Transverse / ("Sweet Potato"). Oval shape, rounded on one side, pointed on the other side. The mouthpiece is perpendicular / a 90 ° angle to the ocarina, or attached to the holes.

Range of Clay Ocarinas

  • Triple System: special ocarina with 3 octaves, over 30 holes (type Songbird, Hind, Focalink, Maparam)
  • Double-system: Ocarina of 2 octaves, over 20 holes (type Songbird, Hind, Focalink, Maparam)
  • 12-hole systems: Design St. Louis Ocarina, Song Bird, one octave and 5 tones chromatic
  • 10-hole system: design Rotter, Plaschke, Posch, Songbird: 1 octave and 3 tones chromatic
  • 8-hole system (moderate to easy way of playing): c, d, e, f, g, a, b, c
  • 7-hole system, design Rotter: 1 octave chromatically
  • 4-hole system (English design to Langley) 1 octave chromatic. In a variant with two thumb holes (total of 6 holes) to get on one chromatic octave and 2 notes.
  • 4-hole system (easy-ocarina, for the early musical education and for people without musicskills): 6 tones (c, d, e, f, g, a) - possible half-tone steps.


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    • no body profile image

      Robert E Smith 

      4 years ago from Rochester, New York

      Hello Sescho, Glad you wrote this hub about ocarinas because it gives me the chance of sharing how much this simple wind instrument has effected my life. I have been playing the ocarina for about a year after having struggled with the recorder for about 20 years. I love the sound of the recorder and was desperately trying to master the breath, the condensation of moisture from my breath, the cramping in my hands because of the position, the maintenance of the woods, and last but not least problem with my recorders was that to get to any higher register notes a half of a thumb hole had to be covered. I hated that and never could get the note to sound right and then when it did happen it was just 2 or 3 notes played before the condensation of saliva made the playing impossible.

      I discovered the ocarina when surfing for recorder music to listen to on YouTube. The first time I heard the sound I was transported to a place in my mind that was as close to heaven as you can get this side of going through death's door.

      When I ordered my first ocarina it was a plastic 12-hole transverse sweet potato. I also ordered a small pan-flute which immediately was sent back. (The breath needed to make a sound was way beyond my capability and the lowest tube of the flute was slightly damaged.) I have been hooked on the ocarina ever since I first held it. Because of charts on the internet which I scanned a few times before my sweet potato arrived in the mail from Taiwan, I knew the fingering system when it arrived. I was able to play it almost from the very first time I picked it up. (Actually it took about four blows in the airway and then it was off to the races!)

      I now own a wooden rectangle alto C 11-hole ocarina made out of Bloodwood, Jatoba, and Canarywood, from the Fairy Ring Mushroom Company. And I have a plastic Soloist Triple from Bon in Germany and my most recent one that is very new to me is the Songbird 6-hole pendant ocarina. The fingering is different and I thought it was time to try something small enough to wear around my neck as jewelry. The think I like least about the 6-hole is that I must (again) struggle with the half-hole for the lowest half note. But it is worth it. Even if I don't master that one note I have so many songs that can be played on a fine symphony quality instrument. This instrument is used in symphonies in Asia and Italy all the time. And eventually I may get a pendent with the extra hole so I won't have to worry even about that one little thing either.

      I appreciate the article and I voted up and interesting.


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