Monday, September 28, 2009


Ocarina's According to Wikipedia

The ocarina (pronounced /ɒkəˈriːnə/) is an ancient flute-like wind instrument.[1] While several variations exist, an ocarina is typified by an oval-shaped enclosed space with four to twelve finger holes and a mouth tube projecting out from the body. It is often ceramic, but many other materials, such as plastic, wood, glass and metal may also be used.

The ocarina is a very old family of instruments, believed to date back some 12,000 years. Ocarina-type instruments have been of particular importance in Chinese and Mesoamerican cultures. For the Chinese, the instrument played an important role in their long history of song and dance. The ocarina has similar features to the Xun, another important Chinese instrument. Different expeditions to Mesoamerica, including the one conducted by Cortés, resulted in the introduction of the ocarina to the courts of Europe. Both the Mayans and Aztecs had produced versions of the ocarina, but it was the Aztecs who brought the song and dance that accompanied the ocarina to Europe. The ocarina went on to become popular in European communities as a toy instrument.

Its common use in Western countries dates back to the 19th century in Budrio, a town near Bologna, Italy, where Giuseppe Donati transformed the ocarina from a toy, which only played a few notes, into a more comprehensive instrument (known as the first "classical" ocarinas). The word ocarina is derived from Bolognese dialect meaning "little goose." The earlier form was known in Europe as a gemshorn; which was made from animal horns of the Gemsbok. After featuring in the Nintendo Legend of Zelda games, the ocarina attracted a marked increase in interest, and a dramatic rise in sales.

There are many different styles of ocarinas varying in shape and the number of holes.

* Transverse (Sweet potato) - This is the best known style of ocarina. It has a rounded shape and is held with two hands horizontally. Depending on the number of holes, one just needs to open one more hole than the previous in order to ascend in pitch. The two most common Transverse ocarinas are the 10-holes (originated by Giuseppe Donati in Italy) and the 12-holes.

* Pendant - These are usually very small and very portable. Two kinds exist. One being the "English" Pendant, which uses an English fingering system (4-6 holes). The other being the "Peruvian" Pendant, which uses a Peruvian fingering system (8-10 holes). English Pendants are more common.
* Inline - These are often called a "fusion" of the Pendant and the Transverse. This style is known for being very small and compact, yet there are more holes than the pendant. This allows one to ascend in pitch with the linear finger pattern rather than finger combinations

* Multi chambered ocarinas - Better known as "Double" and "Triple" ocarinas, this type exists within the three broad categories of ocarina. These ocarinas overcome the disadvantage of ocarinas of having a limited range of notes. A Transverse Double ocarina typically plays 2 octaves + 2 notes, and a Transverse Triple ocarina plays with a range about 2 octaves + 7 notes. Double ocarinas for Pendant and Inline ocarinas also exist. Double Inline ocarinas are specially designed to be able to play chords, for harmonic playing.

* Ocarinas with keys have been produced by several makers, mostly experimentally, beginning in the late 19th century. Keys and slides may be added with the intention of either expanding the instrument's range, or to enable the fingers to reach holes that are widely spaced.

Other vessel flutes include the Chinese xun and African globe flutes. The xun (simplified Chinese: 埙; traditional: 塤; pinyin: xūn) is a Chinese vessel flute made of clay or ceramic. It is one of the oldest Chinese instruments. Shaped like an egg, it differs from the ocarina in being side-blown, like the Western concert flute, rather than having a recorder-like mouthpiece (a fipple or beak). Similar instruments exist in Korea (the hun) and Japan (the tsuchibue).

A related family of instruments is the closed-pipe family, which includes the panpipes and other instruments which produce their tone by vibrating a column of air within a stopped cylinder.

The old fashioned jugband jug also has similar properties.

The traditional german instrument Gemshorn works nearly the same way like an ocarina. The only difference is the material it's made from. The horn of the chamois, goat, or other suitable animal. (

Here is a traditional scale I found off the Firestone website. You can see how easy Ocarinas are to play from the scale. (

And here is a person playing a song on an Ocarina like the one i have.

To buy Ocarina's from Firestone go here:

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