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Ocarina

Ocarina

Overview
The ocarina is an ancient flute
Flute
The flute is a musical instrument of the woodwind family. Unlike woodwind instruments with reeds, a flute is an aerophone or reedless wind instrument that produces its sound from the flow of air across an opening...

-like wind instrument
Wind instrument
A wind instrument is a musical instrument that contains some type of resonator , in which a column of air is set into vibration by the player blowing into a mouthpiece set at the end of the resonator. The pitch of the vibration is determined by the length of the tube and by manual modifications of...

. Variations do exist, but a typical ocarina is an enclosed space with four to twelve finger holes and a mouthpiece that projects from the body. It is often ceramic
Ceramic
A ceramic is an inorganic, nonmetallic solid prepared by the action of heat and subsequent cooling. Ceramic materials may have a crystalline or partly crystalline structure, or may be amorphous...

, but other materials may also be used, such as plastic, wood, glass, clay, and metal.


The ocarina belongs to a very old family of instruments, believed to date back to over 12,000 years.
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Encyclopedia
The ocarina is an ancient flute
Flute
The flute is a musical instrument of the woodwind family. Unlike woodwind instruments with reeds, a flute is an aerophone or reedless wind instrument that produces its sound from the flow of air across an opening...

-like wind instrument
Wind instrument
A wind instrument is a musical instrument that contains some type of resonator , in which a column of air is set into vibration by the player blowing into a mouthpiece set at the end of the resonator. The pitch of the vibration is determined by the length of the tube and by manual modifications of...

. Variations do exist, but a typical ocarina is an enclosed space with four to twelve finger holes and a mouthpiece that projects from the body. It is often ceramic
Ceramic
A ceramic is an inorganic, nonmetallic solid prepared by the action of heat and subsequent cooling. Ceramic materials may have a crystalline or partly crystalline structure, or may be amorphous...

, but other materials may also be used, such as plastic, wood, glass, clay, and metal.

History



The ocarina belongs to a very old family of instruments, believed to date back to over 12,000 years. Ocarina-type instruments have been of particular importance in Chinese
China
Chinese civilization may refer to:* China for more general discussion of the country.* Chinese culture* Greater China, the transnational community of ethnic Chinese.* History of China* Sinosphere, the area historically affected by Chinese culture...

 and Mesoamerica
Mesoamerica
Mesoamerica is a region and culture area in the Americas, extending approximately from central Mexico to Belize, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, and Costa Rica, within which a number of pre-Columbian societies flourished before the Spanish colonization of the Americas in the 15th and...

n 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 (塤), another important Chinese instrument (but is different in that Ocarina uses an internal duct, whereas Xun is blown across the outer edge.) In Japan
Japan
Japan is an island nation in East Asia. Located in the Pacific Ocean, it lies to the east of the Sea of Japan, China, North Korea, South Korea and Russia, stretching from the Sea of Okhotsk in the north to the East China Sea and Taiwan in the south...

, the traditional ocarina is known as the tsuchibue (kanji: 土笛; literally "earthen flute"). Different expeditions to Mesoamerica, including the one conducted by Cortés
Hernán Cortés
Hernán Cortés de Monroy y Pizarro, 1st Marquis of the Valley of Oaxaca was a Spanish Conquistador who led an expedition that caused the fall of the Aztec Empire and brought large portions of mainland Mexico under the rule of the King of Castile in the early 16th century...

, 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 to Europe that accompanied the ocarina. The ocarina went on to become popular in European communities as a toy instrument.

Its earliest use in Europe dates back to the 19th century in Budrio
Budrio
Budrio is a town and comune in the province of Bologna, in Emilia-Romagna, Italy; it is located 15 km E of Bologna.Budrio has two high schools, including a lyceum, a post office, banks, a communal theatre, a swimming pool and several squares...

, a town near Bologna, Italy
Bologna
Bologna is the capital city of Emilia-Romagna, in the Po Valley of Northern Italy. The city lies between the Po River and the Apennine Mountains, more specifically, between the Reno River and the Savena River. Bologna is a lively and cosmopolitan Italian college city, with spectacular history,...

, where Giuseppe Donati
Giuseppe Donati
Giuseppe Donati was the inventor of the classical ocarina, a ceramic wind instrument based on the principle of a Helmholtz resonator....

 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 in the Bolognese dialect
Bologna
Bologna is the capital city of Emilia-Romagna, in the Po Valley of Northern Italy. The city lies between the Po River and the Apennine Mountains, more specifically, between the Reno River and the Savena River. Bologna is a lively and cosmopolitan Italian college city, with spectacular history,...

 means "little goose
Goose
The word goose is the English name for a group of waterfowl, belonging to the family Anatidae. This family also includes swans, most of which are larger than true geese, and ducks, which are smaller....

." The earlier form was known in Europe as a gemshorn
Gemshorn
The gemshorn is an instrument of the ocarina family that was historically made from the horn of a chamois, goat, or other suitable animal. The gemshorn receives its name from the German language, and means a chamois horn.-History:...

, which was made from animal horns
Horn (anatomy)
A horn is a pointed projection of the skin on the head of various animals, consisting of a covering of horn surrounding a core of living bone. True horns are found mainly among the ruminant artiodactyls, in the families Antilocapridae and Bovidae...

 of the chamois
Chamois
The chamois, Rupicapra rupicapra, is a goat-antelope species native to mountains in Europe, including the Carpathian Mountains of Romania, the European Alps, the Tatra Mountains, the Balkans, parts of Turkey, and the Caucasus. The chamois has also been introduced to the South Island of New Zealand...

 .

The ocarina was featured in the Nintendo
Nintendo
is a multinational corporation located in Kyoto, Japan. Founded on September 23, 1889 by Fusajiro Yamauchi, it produced handmade hanafuda cards. By 1963, the company had tried several small niche businesses, such as a cab company and a love hotel....

 video game The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time
The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time
is an action-adventure video game developed by Nintendo's Entertainment Analysis and Development division for the Nintendo 64 video game console. It was released in Japan on November 21, 1998; in North America on November 23, 1998; and in Europe on December 11, 1998...

, attracting a marked increase in interest and a dramatic rise in sales.

Tone production/acoustics



How an ocarina works:
  1. Air enters through the windway
  2. Air strikes the labium
    Fipple
    A fipple is a constricted mouthpiece common to many end-blown woodwind instruments, such as the tin whistle and the recorder. These instruments are known variously as fipple flutes, duct flutes, or tubular-ducted flutes.-How it works:...

    , producing sound
  3. Air vibrates throughout the inside of the ocarina
  4. Covering and uncovering holes lowers and raises the pitch


The ocarina, unlike other vessel flutes, has the unusual quality of not relying on the pipe length to produce a particular tone. Instead the tone is dependent on the ratio of the total surface area of opened holes to the total cubic volume enclosed by the instrument. This means that, unlike a flute
Flute
The flute is a musical instrument of the woodwind family. Unlike woodwind instruments with reeds, a flute is an aerophone or reedless wind instrument that produces its sound from the flow of air across an opening...

 or recorder
Recorder
The recorder is a woodwind musical instrument of the family known as fipple flutes or internal duct flutes—whistle-like instruments which include the tin whistle. The recorder is end-blown and the mouth of the instrument is constricted by a wooden plug, known as a block or fipple...

, sound is created by resonance of the entire cavity and the placement of the holes on an ocarina is largely irrelevant – their size is the most important factor. Instruments that have toneholes close to the voicing/embouchure should be avoided, however, because this weakens tonal production since an ocarina is a Helmholtz resonator
Helmholtz resonance
Helmholtz resonance is the phenomenon of air resonance in a cavity, such as when one blows across the top of an empty bottle. The name comes from a device created in the 1850s by Hermann von Helmholtz, the "Helmholtz resonator", which he, the author of the classic study of acoustic science, used to...

.

The resonator
Resonator
A resonator is a device or system that exhibits resonance or resonant behavior, that is, it naturally oscillates at some frequencies, called its resonant frequencies, with greater amplitude than at others. The oscillations in a resonator can be either electromagnetic or mechanical...

 in the ocarina can create overtone
Overtone
An overtone is any frequency higher than the fundamental frequency of a sound. The fundamental and the overtones together are called partials. Harmonics are partials whose frequencies are whole number multiples of the fundamental These overlapping terms are variously used when discussing the...

s, but because of the common "egg" shape, these overtones are many octaves above the keynote scale. In similar Helmholtz resonator instruments with a narrow cone shape, like the Gemshorn
Gemshorn
The gemshorn is an instrument of the ocarina family that was historically made from the horn of a chamois, goat, or other suitable animal. The gemshorn receives its name from the German language, and means a chamois horn.-History:...

 or Tonette
Tonette
The Tonette is a small, end-blown flute made of plastic, which was once popular in American elementary music education. Though the Tonette has been superseded by the recorder in many areas, due to their price, durability and simplicity, you can still find plenty of plastic Tonettes as well as...

, some partial overtones are available. The technique of overblowing
Overblowing
Overblowing A technique used while playing a wind instrument which, primarily through manipulation of the supplied air , causes the sounded pitch to jump to a higher one...

 to get a range of higher pitched notes is possible with the ocarina but not widely used because the resulting note is not "clean" enough, so the range of pitches available is limited to a 12th. Some Ocarina makers increase the range by designing double- or triple-chambered ocarinas tuned 1 octave apart although some double ocarinas are not made to increase the range, but to play in harmony with the other chambers.

These double and triple ocarinas can also play chords. Different notes are produced by covering the holes, and by opening and closing more or less of the total hole area. The tone is then produced through the sound hole/embouchure. The tone can also be varied by changing blowing strength to bend pitch.

Musical notation/tabulature


Ocarina music is written in three main ways. The most apparent is the use of sheet music. There are archives of sheet music
Sheet music
Sheet music is a hand-written or printed form of music notation that uses modern musical symbols; like its analogs—books, pamphlets, etc.—the medium of sheet music typically is paper , although the access to musical notation in recent years includes also presentation on computer screens...

 either specifically written for ocarinas, or adapted from piano sheet music. Since some ocarinas are fully chromatic and can be played in professional
Professional
A professional is a person who is paid to undertake a specialised set of tasks and to complete them for a fee. The traditional professions were doctors, lawyers, clergymen, and commissioned military officers. Today, the term is applied to estate agents, surveyors , environmental scientists,...

 musical situations, including classical
Classical music
Classical music is the art music produced in, or rooted in, the traditions of Western liturgical and secular music, encompassing a broad period from roughly the 11th century to present times...

 and folk
Folk music
Folk music is an English term encompassing both traditional folk music and contemporary folk music. The term originated in the 19th century. Traditional folk music has been defined in several ways: as music transmitted by mouth, as music of the lower classes, and as music with unknown composers....

, sheet music
Sheet music
Sheet music is a hand-written or printed form of music notation that uses modern musical symbols; like its analogs—books, pamphlets, etc.—the medium of sheet music typically is paper , although the access to musical notation in recent years includes also presentation on computer screens...

 is an ideal notation for ocarinas.

Second is the use of numerical tablature, which expresses the musical notes as numbers. Some makers have developed their own system of numerical tablature
Tablature
Tablature is a form of musical notation indicating instrument fingering rather than musical pitches....

 for their ocarinas, while others follow a more universal system where numbers correspond to different notes on the scale. This method is typically used by beginners who have not learned to read sheet music
Sheet music
Sheet music is a hand-written or printed form of music notation that uses modern musical symbols; like its analogs—books, pamphlets, etc.—the medium of sheet music typically is paper , although the access to musical notation in recent years includes also presentation on computer screens...

.

A third method uses a pictorial tablature similar to the ocarina's finger hole pattern, with blackened holes that represent which holes to cover. The tablature
Tablature
Tablature is a form of musical notation indicating instrument fingering rather than musical pitches....

 represents the holes on the top of the ocarina, and, where necessary, the holes on the underside. This enables easy playing, particularly for beginners. The two most popular tabulature systems are:
  • The John Taylor four-hole system (invented in 1964 by British mathematician John Taylor)
  • The 10 hole sweet potato system (invented by Giuseppe Donati
    Giuseppe Donati
    Giuseppe Donati was the inventor of the classical ocarina, a ceramic wind instrument based on the principle of a Helmholtz resonator....

     of Budrio Italy)

Depending on the artist, some may write a number or figure over the picture to depict how many beats to hold the note.

Types


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
    Giuseppe Donati
    Giuseppe Donati was the inventor of the classical ocarina, a ceramic wind instrument based on the principle of a Helmholtz resonator....

     in Italy) and the 12-holes.

  • Pendants: There are two types:
    • English Pendant – These are usually very small and very portable, and use an English fingering system (4–6 holes).
    • Peruvian Pendant – Dating from the time of the Incas, used as instruments for festivals, rituals and ceremonies. They are (usually the area occupied by them) today with designs of animals or simply oval (8–9 holes).

  • 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.

Similar instruments


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
Recorder
The recorder is a woodwind musical instrument of the family known as fipple flutes or internal duct flutes—whistle-like instruments which include the tin whistle. The recorder is end-blown and the mouth of the instrument is constricted by a wooden plug, known as a block or fipple...

-like mouthpiece (a fipple
Fipple
A fipple is a constricted mouthpiece common to many end-blown woodwind instruments, such as the tin whistle and the recorder. These instruments are known variously as fipple flutes, duct flutes, or tubular-ducted flutes.-How it works:...

 or beak). Similar instruments exist in Korea (the hun
Hun (instrument)
The hun is a Korean ocarina made of baked clay or ceramic. It has a globular shape, with a blowing hole on top and several finger holes. It is used primarily in court music ensembles, although in the late 20th century some contemporary Korean composers began to use it in their compositions and...

) and Japan (the tsuchibue).

A related family of instruments is the closed-pipe family, which includes the panpipes
Pan flute
The pan flute or pan pipe is an ancient musical instrument based on the principle of the closed tube, consisting usually of five or more pipes of gradually increasing length...

 and other instruments that produce their tone by vibrating a column of air within a stopped cylinder
Cylinder (geometry)
A cylinder is one of the most basic curvilinear geometric shapes, the surface formed by the points at a fixed distance from a given line segment, the axis of the cylinder. The solid enclosed by this surface and by two planes perpendicular to the axis is also called a cylinder...

.

The old fashioned jugband jug
Jug (musical instrument)
The jug as a musical instrument reached its height of popularity in the 1920s, when jug bands, such as Cannon's Jug Stompers were popular. The jug is just that: an empty jug played with the mouth...

 also has similar properties.

The traditional German instrument Gemshorn
Gemshorn
The gemshorn is an instrument of the ocarina family that was historically made from the horn of a chamois, goat, or other suitable animal. The gemshorn receives its name from the German language, and means a chamois horn.-History:...

 works nearly the same way as an ocarina. The only difference is the material it's made from: the horn of the chamois
Chamois
The chamois, Rupicapra rupicapra, is a goat-antelope species native to mountains in Europe, including the Carpathian Mountains of Romania, the European Alps, the Tatra Mountains, the Balkans, parts of Turkey, and the Caucasus. The chamois has also been introduced to the South Island of New Zealand...

, goat
Goat
The domestic goat is a subspecies of goat domesticated from the wild goat of southwest Asia and Eastern Europe. The goat is a member of the Bovidae family and is closely related to the sheep as both are in the goat-antelope subfamily Caprinae. There are over three hundred distinct breeds of...

, or other suitable animal.

The borrindo is a simple hollow clay ball with three to four holes, one somewhat larger and the others smaller and of the same size. The holes are arranged in an isosceles triangular form. The borrindo is made out of soft alluvial clay available in plenty everywhere in the central Indus Valley. Being of the simplest design, it is made even by children. Some adults make fine borrindos of larger size, put pottery designs on them, and bake them. These baked borrindos with pottery designs are the later evolved forms of this musical instrument which appears to have been used in its simple unbaked form since times immemorial. The sound notes are produced by blowing somewhat horizontally into the larger hole. Finger tips are placed on smaller holes to regulate the notes. Its ease of play makes it popular among children and the youth.

See also


  • Flute
    Flute
    The flute is a musical instrument of the woodwind family. Unlike woodwind instruments with reeds, a flute is an aerophone or reedless wind instrument that produces its sound from the flow of air across an opening...

  • Native American flute
    Native American flute
    The Native American flute has achieved some measure of fame for its distinctive sound, used in a variety of New Age and world music recordings. The instrument was originally very personal; its music was played without accompaniment in courtship, healing, meditation, and spiritual rituals. Now it...

  • Pan flute
    Pan flute
    The pan flute or pan pipe is an ancient musical instrument based on the principle of the closed tube, consisting usually of five or more pipes of gradually increasing length...

  • The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time
    The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time
    is an action-adventure video game developed by Nintendo's Entertainment Analysis and Development division for the Nintendo 64 video game console. It was released in Japan on November 21, 1998; in North America on November 23, 1998; and in Europe on December 11, 1998...


Further reading

  • Adversi, Aldo. L'ocarina di Budrio: Pubblicato in occasione del 1 centenario ed a cura del comitato per le manifestazioni budriesi. Bologna: Bongiovanni, 1963.
  • Cedroni, Claudio. Il Settimino di ocarine: Storia di una tradizione italiana. Bologna: Edizioni Sonic Press, 2011. (in Italian and English)
  • Hall, Barry. From Mud to Music: Making and Enjoying Ceramic Musical Instruments. Westerville, OH: American Ceramic Society, 2006. ISBN 1574981390; ISBN 1574982222.
  • Molinari Pradelli, Alessandro (ed.). Il suono dell'argilla: l'ocarina di Budrio 150 anni dopo. Budrio, 2003.

External links