Ocarina Advice Needed

Forums World Flutes and Music World Flutes General Discussion Ocarina Advice Needed

This topic contains 4 replies, has 3 voices, and was last updated by  Roberta 1 week, 4 days ago.

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  • #809543

    Roberta
    Participant

    Hi Everyone,

    The start of a new musical adventure arrived for me on December 30, when my stepdaughter Kara gave me an ocarina! She’s the same one who introduced me to the Native American flute. ❤️ Naturally, I was immediately intrigued and have been doing some research on ocarinas, including looking back through the ocarina threads here on the Portal.

    The one I was gifted is a straw fire ceramic, 12 hole, alto C, sweet potato. I’ve already discovered that, as with the flute, I prefer an instrument with a lower tone. I went to Charlie Hind’s web site and the sweet potato tenor is definitely calling to me!

    I also visited Songbird Ocarinas, who have a very large selection, and Mountain Ocarinas, who indicate that they have none in stock, but I do love wood, and I’m still hearing that Charlie Hind tenor.

    In regard to playing the instrument, it seems to me that the ocarina is very sensitive to the force of the breath, more than I’ve experienced with the NAF.

    In any case, I’d love to hear anything you’d like to share about your experiences and recommendations in regard to ocarinas.

    Thanks Much!
    Roberta

    Dr. Roberta Koepfer
    Cell: 347.276.5827

    Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?
    ~ Mary Oliver

    #939827

    Keith Glowka
    Participant

    You’ll love playing ocarinas! Most of the flutes I make are technically in the ocarina family, but the fingering pattern is a straight line of holes and they’re tuned NAF style.

    You are certainly right about the breath force! One way to control that and get the best tone from your ocarina is to make your mouth perform the same job as the slow air chamber (SAC) of a Native American flute. It’s a technique often called “warm breath” and is really quite easy to do. Here’s how:

    – Hold your palm a couple of inches from your face, and blow on it with pursed lips. Feel the cool stream of air on your palm? That’s “cold breath”.

    – Now hold your palm there again. This time, hold the inside of your mouth hollow and exhale as you would when fogging eyeglasses to clean them. The airstream is warm this time. That’s “warm breath”.

    Using warm breath really improves things with ocarinas, as it evens out turbulence and slows the airstream (just like a SAC). You are almost breathing into the instrument more than blowing into it. It will work on your NAF flutes as well, especially ones that jump octaves too easily. Warm breath also makes vibrato easy to produce.

    QUOTE(Roberta @ Jan 4 2018, 10:16 PM)
    Hi Everyone,

    The start of a new musical adventure arrived for me on December 30, when my stepdaughter Kara gave me an ocarina! She’s the same one who introduced me to the Native American flute. ❤️ Naturally, I was immediately intrigued and have been doing some research on ocarinas, including looking back through the ocarina threads here on the Portal.

    The one I was gifted is a straw fire ceramic, 12 hole, alto C, sweet potato. I’ve already discovered that, as with the flute, I prefer an instrument with a lower tone. I went to Charlie Hind’s web site and the sweet potato tenor is definitely calling to me!

    I also visited Songbird Ocarinas, who have a very large selection, and Mountain Ocarinas, who indicate that they have none in stock, but I do love wood, and I’m still hearing that Charlie Hind tenor.

    In regard to playing the instrument, it seems to me that the ocarina is very sensitive to the force of the breath, more than I’ve experienced with the NAF.

    In any case, I’d love to hear anything you’d like to share about your experiences and recommendations in regard to ocarinas.

    Thanks Much!
    Roberta

    #939828

    rick mcdaniel
    Participant

    You might also want to explore the North Country Workshop, and look at the double wooden ocarinas.

    https://sites.google.com/site/doubleocarinas/home

    At the moment, it seems they have a break in making them, for whatever reason, but they are fantastic instruments, and they are the ones played by Nancy Rumbel and Cornell Kinderknecht. (Cornell plays a variety of ocarinas, among his flute choices.)

    While I have had minimal time to spend with them, I find ocarinas to be fun instruments, and there are a number of enthusiasts of them, and they vary from simple ones to the rather complex ones above. I have several, but have never become truly proficient with them. They come in a full range of tonality, from higher pitched 4 hole styles, to tenor full fingered styles, and there are even different forms like the Chinese Xun, which is played like a pan pipe, with 10 finger holes. They can get, quite complicated to play, and I have seen them from $10.-$350. in price.

    George Tortorelli from FL, who makes bamboo transverse flutes, and usually is at Native Rhythms, offers a cute little ocarina, for $15. that is a great little ocarina, also. George is a very good performance level player, and he makes that little ocarina sing.

    Yes, you need minimal air flow, for most ocarinas. They play more like an Irish penny whistle, where the air flow has to be very controlled to get the best sound quality. There are many variations of these little instruments, especially the ones from Central and South America, which are often made in bird and animal shapes. Like flutes, they are made and found in most cultures, around the world. I have Celtic ones, Native Mayan types, South American ones, etc. Songbird ocarinas makes a wide variety of them, and Chinese made versions are sold in the US, in great numbers. Besides the larger companies, there are many craftspeople who make them, as well, although I think the best players are probably made by the larger companies, in the ceramic versions, who can control the sound quality better, in the instruments.

    Most flute folk should have at least one ocarina, simply because they are so affordable, and relatively easy to play. SA versions run about $10.

    #939829

    Roberta
    Participant

    QUOTE(Keith Glowka @ Jan 5 2018, 05:36 AM)
    You’ll love playing ocarinas! Most of the flutes I make are technically in the ocarina family, but the fingering pattern is a straight line of holes and they’re tuned NAF style.

    You are certainly right about the breath force! One way to control that and get the best tone from your ocarina is to make your mouth perform the same job as the slow air chamber (SAC) of a Native American flute. It’s a technique often called “warm breath” and is really quite easy to do. Here’s how:

    – Hold your palm a couple of inches from your face, and blow on it with pursed lips. Feel the cool stream of air on your palm? That’s “cold breath”.

    – Now hold your palm there again. This time, hold the inside of your mouth hollow and exhale as you would when fogging eyeglasses to clean them. The airstream is warm this time. That’s “warm breath”.

    Using warm breath really improves things with ocarinas, as it evens out turbulence and slows the airstream (just like a SAC). You are almost breathing into the instrument more than blowing into it. It will work on your NAF flutes as well, especially ones that jump octaves too easily. Warm breath also makes vibrato easy to produce.

    Hi Keith,
    Thanks for the encouragement and for the tip about “cool” and “warm” breath!

    Dr. Roberta Koepfer
    Cell: 347.276.5827

    Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?
    ~ Mary Oliver

    #939830

    Roberta
    Participant

    QUOTE(Rick McDaniel @ Jan 5 2018, 05:47 AM)
    You might also want to explore the North Country Workshop, and look at the double wooden ocarinas.

    https://sites.google.com/site/doubleocarinas/home

    At the moment, it seems they have a break in making them, for whatever reason, but they are fantastic instruments, and they are the ones played by Nancy Rumbel and Cornell Kinderknecht. (Cornell plays a variety of ocarinas, among his flute choices.)

    While I have had minimal time to spend with them, I find ocarinas to be fun instruments, and there are a number of enthusiasts of them, and they vary from simple ones to the rather complex ones above. I have several, but have never become truly proficient with them. They come in a full range of tonality, from higher pitched 4 hole styles, to tenor full fingered styles, and there are even different forms like the Chinese Xun, which is played like a pan pipe, with 10 finger holes. They can get, quite complicated to play, and I have seen them from $10.-$350. in price.

    George Tortorelli from FL, who makes bamboo transverse flutes, and usually is at Native Rhythms, offers a cute little ocarina, for $15. that is a great little ocarina, also. George is a very good performance level player, and he makes that little ocarina sing.

    Yes, you need minimal air flow, for most ocarinas. They play more like an Irish penny whistle, where the air flow has to be very controlled to get the best sound quality. There are many variations of these little instruments, especially the ones from Central and South America, which are often made in bird and animal shapes. Like flutes, they are made and found in most cultures, around the world. I have Celtic ones, Native Mayan types, South American ones, etc. Songbird ocarinas makes a wide variety of them, and Chinese made versions are sold in the US, in great numbers. Besides the larger companies, there are many craftspeople who make them, as well, although I think the best players are probably made by the larger companies, in the ceramic versions, who can control the sound quality better, in the instruments.

    Most flute folk should have at least one ocarina, simply because they are so affordable, and relatively easy to play. SA versions run about $10.

    Hi Rick,
    You’re right, North Country Workshop isn’t shipping ocarinas at this time, but the site has a lot of useful information about ocarinas and how to play them.
    Thanks!

    Dr. Roberta Koepfer
    Cell: 347.276.5827

    Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?
    ~ Mary Oliver

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