Anyone interested in the ocarina must visit the Songbird Ocarina website. The fellow that put the website together sells his handmade ocarinas (and other hand flutes), but he also provides history, videos and audio files on him playing, tips, sheet music, etc. I quickly got the sense that this guy loves what he does, which made paying the price for one of his ocarinas much easier to accept.
If link dies, read cached copy below.
|Fun with the Ocarina|
|Ocarina of Time - by Songbird Ocarina|
History of the Ocarina
The ocarina has been around since the Stone Age. They can be found in Asia, South America, Europe, Africa, and maybe even some places that haven't been discovered! Most are made from clay, although ocarinas have been found of bone, wood, antler, seed pod, seaweed, jade, quartz, metal, fimo, and plastic.
They have been credited with magical as well as whimsical properties, imitating bird calls, and used as courting instruments. The Mayans of South America used them for special ceremonies. Travelers from Europe brought some South American whistles back to Europe, where the instrument was refined so as to play the Western do-re-mi scale.
Italy saw the greatest development of the ocarina, in the 1800's, where the instrument became quite popular. Ocarina ensembles were formed, playing together on different size ocarinas.
During WWII, Americans were introduced to the ocarina, and playing one became a pastime for soldiers. They were even said to boost morale!
In the 1960's, an Englishman named John Taylor introduced the four hole cross finger tuning for ocarina, which increases the ability for the player to incorporate virtuosic elements to the music. With just four (4) holes, a full chromatic scale to the octave is possible. With the addition of a thumb hole, the range in increased to include one tone above the octave.
In the 1990's, an American named David Hannauer maximized the cross-finger range by adding a second thumb hole, raising the range to the eleventh or one octave plus a fourth. This is quite difficult to achieve except with great precision, skill and a little ocarina magic! Songbird Ocarinas has ocarinas to the eleventh, available by special order.
In 1999, Nintendo released a video game titled Zelda, the Ocarina of Time, the most popular video game of all time! It features a character named Link that plays songs on an ocarina in order to access different areas of the game. The player actually uses the game pad like an ocarina to play the songs.
Who knows whats coming next?
Vive la Ocarina!!
Techniques for playing the Ocarina
The ocarina is very easy to play, yet capable of incredible complexity! All the notes of the Western 12 tone system, including all the sharps and flats, are present. Notice that there are only four holes on the top of the ocarina, and one on the bottom for your thumb. The four top holes give you all the notes in an octave, and the thumb hole takes you one note above the octave. But how can only 4 holes give you 12 different notes? The answer is "cross-fingering". There are 4x4 combinations, or 16 actual notes (some combinations make notes outside our 12 tone system). Of course, the majority of musicians (birds) don't bother with scales at all. A bird with scales? Whoever heard of such a thing? Basically, the more holes that are closed, the lower the note, and the more holes open, the higher the note. All holes closed is the lowest note, and all holes open is the highest note.
finger positions for major scale
Fingers are sure useful, but it is your breath that powers the ocarina. By making a "seal" with your mouth to the mouthpiece, you will achieve the clearest sound. Now, how hard to blow? I say blow as though you are blowing a kiss! This is a matter of personal taste and experimenting. Notice that by blowing harder, the pitch raises slightly, and by blowing softer, the pitch lowers.
Here is a very useful technique that I use often: it's called 'articulation'. Try singing "The Lone Ranger" saying "ta-ta-tum, ta-ta-tum, ta-ta-tum-tum-tum." That's articulation. When you do that with your breath into the ocarina, you get a clarity of individual notes.
Another special technique is the 'trill'. Make a note, any note, and lift and replace one finger repeatedly and very quickly. Certain combinations of this are very enjoy- able, and I won't tell you which ones, because discovering them is half the fun! A great way to learn ocarina is to figure out songs that you already know, one note at a time. Use the 'process of elimination' by trying different combinations until you chance upon the right one. Soon, your fingers will be flying, and laughter will fill the air!!!
Songbird Ocarinas began when Darryn made his first batch of ocarinas on a misty beach in Northern California in 1992. Granted, his ocarinas weren't ready for prime time for several years, so he practiced and lived simply, and made other instruments like the kalimba and bowed psaltry. After many years of world travel and skill improvements both playing and making ocarinas, Darryn settled down in Santa Barbara and established Songbird Ocarinas as a sole proprietor business.
When the Legend Of Zelda: the Ocarina of Time was released, the demand for ocarinas expanded exponentially, and Darryn hired his friends to help keep up with the demand. Songbird Ocarinas is continually striving to make more beautifully sounding and enjoyably playable ocarinas!
410 Anacapa Street
Santa Barbara, CA 93101
|Ocarina of Time|
|The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time [SOUNDTRACK]|
|Fun with the Ocarina|