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 Post subject: New to ocarinas
PostPosted: 25 Sep 2016, 11:46 

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Hello. I'm a concertina player really, but I'm just developing an interest in ocarinas because I want to give one as a present to each of my grand-nephews - their first musical instrument. While 'researching' what sort of ocarina to give them, I realised that it would be a good idea for me to try one out myself - they must be even more portable than a concertina! So, I have a few simple questions:

1) What is a suitable type of ocarina for a child? I've seen some disparaging remarks about the cheap plastic ones available here in the UK - to the effect that they are musically very limited, and the kids get bored with them very quickly.

2) What is a suitable type of ocarina for a 60+ child - ie: me? The 'obvious' options seem to be ceramic or wood, and I can see a few on the internet which might be suitable, both wood and ceramic. I've read a little about the maintenance of wooden ocarinas (ie: oiling) and have no concerns there, but I can't come to any conclusions.

3) Would a kit be 'sensible'? I looked at the Hind kits and they seem reasonably priced even allowing for transport ax the Atlantic.

4) Any makers in the UK? I could only find three - one has temporarily (?) ceased trading, one has a 'stale' link and the third seemed to consist only of a long sequence of photographs with no information.

5) What key/range should I go for?

Thank you for any advice you can give.

Roger Hare


I am the custodian of 10 concertinas, 1 melodeon and 1 guitar - I just wish I could play 'em...


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 Post subject: Re: New to ocarinas
PostPosted: 25 Sep 2016, 12:38 

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1) Pretty much any ocarina is suitable for a child, except the very large bass ocarinas, which might be difficult to hold with small hands. Despite what people say, plastic ocarinas are not necessarily of lower quality than ceramic ocarinas, though most plastic ocarinas are utter crap. However, there are even more ceramic ocarinas of terrible quality, so one would have to ignore all of those to conclude that plastic ocarinas are somehow inferior. That said, an ocarina is traditionally a ceramic instruments and the very best, top quality ocarinas happen to be made out of clay. Besides feeling and looking cheap, a plastic ocarina can sound just as great if it was carefully made. One of those high-quality plastic ocarinas is Noble Plastic AC. The only real downside to plastic ocarinas is that spit and breath condensation tends to accumulate in the windway - which has to be frequently blown out (which makes it somewhat unsuitable for very long pieces of music). A ceramic ocarina simply absorbs all that moisture and can be played for a long time without having to unclog the windway.

2) When it comes to wooden ocarinas, there are pretty much only two options: Woodsound and Hind. Woodsound ocarinas are very similar to traditional ceramic ocarinas. Hind ocarinas are very different from any other ocarinas - they require very gentle breath and so the playing technique is completely different. Even though Hind makes beautiful instruments, personally, I would recommend a more traditional, ceramic instrument, more suitable for concert playing.

3) These kit ocarinas seem to be a novelty, not serious high-quality instruments.

4) Regarding UK ocarina makers, I would wholeheartedly recommend Jade Everett (Kalasinar ocarinas). Unfortunately, she has recently stopped making ocarinas but she still might have some of her old stock left, so I'd consider contacting her. They are great instruments, and sound just as beautiful as they look. Another ocarina maker from the UK, who seems to make high quality instruments, is Robert Hickman.

5) The most common ocarina pitch range is called alto C (abbreviated as "AC", or Do3 in Italian). The range is fully chromatic, from C5 (which is a C an octave above the middle C) to F6, that is, an interval of a perfect eleventh. If it has sub-holes, three additional half-steps are playable, going down to A4. Most ocarina music can be played on such an instrument and, as such, it is great for a beginner. It is also small enough to be played by a small child.


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 Post subject: Re: New to ocarinas
PostPosted: 25 Sep 2016, 13:08 

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> Pretty much any ocarina is suitable for a child...One of those high-quality plastic ocarinas is Noble Plastic AC....

Thanks. The Noble Plastic AC looks kinda interesting, and has a good review by Hindman on Amazon...

> When it comes to wooden ocarinas, there are pretty much only two options...personally, I would recommend a more traditional, ceramic instrument, more suitable for concert playing.

Thanks. Interesting - it starts to look as if the answer to my question is 'ceramic'.

> These kit ocarinas seem to be a novelty, not serious high-quality instruments.

Thanks. I was a bit wary - the prices are are suspiciously lower than those for 'pre-assembled' instruments...

>... would wholeheartedly recommend Jade Everett (Kalasinar ocarinas)...Another ocarina maker from the UK, who seems to make high quality instruments, is Robert Hickman.

Jade Everett is the maker I flagged as having discontinued production - I will try your suggestion. Robert Hickman is the one with the 'stale' link - but it was a mistake in the referring site - I have now found and looked at his range.

>The most common ocarina pitch range is called alto C...

Noted Thank you.

Thanks for all that - very helpful.

Roger


I am the custodian of 10 concertinas, 1 melodeon and 1 guitar - I just wish I could play 'em...


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 Post subject: Re: New to ocarinas
PostPosted: 25 Sep 2016, 13:49 

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Bors Anders in Sweden is another maker of wooden ocarinas - they are very different from the mainstream.

In the UK, Robert Hickman is the only maker currently producing ocarinas worth playing.

The pitch you want depends on the kind of music you want to play; it isn't a one-size-fits-all instrument, most players have several to suit different musical situations. For Scottish trad, G is the only pitch worth bothering with. For klezmer I mainly use a B flat and occasionally a G. For French music, C or D will cover most of the repertoire. For English and Irish music, D is your best bet but don't expect it to always work (Hickman's D double is designed as a whistle replacement and will do much more). For jazz you will probably need a wide selection of pitches but B flat will be the most useful.

Everett has been out of production for about two years, her stuff is hard to find second hand, and she only ever made ocarinas in C and B.

I've got a "Night by Noble" plastic - it's okay but I found it hard to play in tune and the fingerhole placement wasn't ideal for my (fairly ordinary) hands. Like almost all 12-hole ocarinas, those very low notes are a marketing con trick, not practically useful.

More on my ocarina page: http://www.campin.me.uk/Music/Ocarina/ - I have many links to videos where you can see what people do with the instrument.


http://www.campin.me.uk


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