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 Post subject: a little history please
PostPosted: 01 Jun 2015, 00:00 

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Been working very hard this weekend to finish a bamboo globular flute for Jack. Unfortunately it is unacceptable. The shape is of ancient Egyptian stele design, but the last fingerhole is impossibly large. I think I know why and finally, after many "experimental designs", this failure shows where the last finger hole should be located. And because on this "longitudinal" design, my question is, how was the present transverse design solidified? What is the history of making the transverse ocarina--what shape were some of the original test experiments? The thumb holes have to be placed nearer the voicing that some tubular/globular flutes. I can certainly appreciate the transvers design now.


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 Post subject: Re: a little history please
PostPosted: 04 Jun 2015, 09:16 

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An interview of Giuseppe Donati, the man who invented the ocarina in 1853, was published in the 15th July 1909 issue (year 64. Vol. II.) of the magazine called "Ars et Labor". In the interview Donati tells the story about how he invented the ocarina and how the final shape of the ocarina came to be. There are also photos of Donati's reconstruction of his early ocarina prototypes. And by "reconstruction", I mean that he created those forms just for the interview - whether they are indeed similar to the old prototypes of Donati, it is difficult to tell, because the only source we have is his recollection of the events (which took place over fifty years before the interview).


The standard story is that young Donati got the novel idea to modify one of those clay bird-shaped musical whistles that were commonly sold on fairs by drilling additional holes in it, thus expanding the range and making it possible to play a musical scale on it. So the first musical ocarina looked like a bird:


Attachment:
Donati1.jpg

It was meant as a fun joke and the musicians in Budrio liked it very much, so he and his friends started making various whistles out of clay and fired them in the kiln used for making bricks. The story that Donati told in the interview is that he set out to make a musical whistle shaped like a cornet, but it broke and what remained was a shape that was very comfortable to hold:


Attachment:
Donati2.jpg

This is how, according to Donati, the final form for the ocarina was developed, by accident. It is important to note again that the items photographed for the article were not original items from 1853, but the ones Donati made in 1909 for the visit of the interviewer, in order to illustrate his story. Therefore, the objects depicted were probably not playable (Fabio Galliani speculates that they were probably not even hollow and he makes a pretty good point). Whether the originals were playable or not (or if they ever existed) is not known.


For purposes of completeness and for the benefit of those interested in it, I have uploaded a scan of the whole article from the 1909 magazine. It is in Italian, of course. I could translate parts of it, if asked. The original copy of the magazine issue is kept at the Ocarina Museum in Budrio.


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Ocarina, Ars et Labor.zip


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