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 Post subject: What ocarinas best suit your playing style/preference?
PostPosted: 08 Oct 2013, 16:49 

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Everyone has their own ideal when it comes to the attributes of an instrument, whether it be from tonguing response, back pressure, chiff, volume or even weight. Im curious as to what you all look for in terms of these dynamics.

Im a big fan of ocarinas with quick tonguing response, something that my Fiehn ocarina does quite well due to its narrow windway exit, but the breath pressure is a bit absurd thanks to the distance of the labium from the windway and its poorly matched width exceeding that of the windway. So Id say, just to start things off, I really like my Gosselink Alto Sol for this sort of dynamic as it stands out the most for me. A response of a recorder's tonging ability, a bit more robust and louder tone makes it a winner in my eyes.

Conversely, I enjoy my Takashi 4C for its more gentle voice and sine like tone, but something it shares in common with those mentioned above is its slightly chiffy and fast response, yet at the other end of the spectrum in terms of breath requirement.


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 Post subject: Re: What ocarinas best suit your playing style/preference?
PostPosted: 09 Oct 2013, 17:12 

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In my opinion a good ocarina should have:


Loud, strong sound. You should be able to play it in a small concert hall (for up to 500 people) without amplification. Its sound should not be drowned by the accompanying piano or guitar and it should be comparable in volume with other labial woodwind instruments, such as the flute and the recorder. Only such an ocarina can be called a concert instrument.


Rich and beautiful timbre on all notes. The colour of the sound of the ocarina is rather clean, compared to other woodwind instruments. It lacks strong harmonics and is usually round and gentle. But that doesn't mean it should sound like a sine wave from a tone generator. The sound should have character and texture. High notes can be a little bit airy, as long they do not suffer tonal loss. Airiness by itself is not a bad characteristic, but if the tone of high notes is weak and airiness is the main component of sound (typical of lower quality instruments), that is not acceptable. High notes should have rich tone, regardless of airiness, and that should be possible to achieve without any gimmicks (like bowing forwards). Multi-chambered ocarinas should have the tone colour and loudness balanced across the chambers, so that chamber switching is not too obvious to the listener.


Pleasant natural dynamics. Of course, on the ocarina, a certain note will always have the same volume, because intonation depends on the strength of blowing. However, not all notes should be equally loud: low notes should be gentler and sweeter, while high notes should be stronger and louder. This makes the sound of the instrument much less bland and much more interesting, but it has to be done gradually and smoothly, so that it doesn't sound like a tasteless joke. If the ocarinas are to be played in a septet, then their loudness has to be balanced so that they sound well together - bass and contrabass ocarinas (Sol6 and Do7) should be powerful enough to support the whole septet. If blown too hard, the ocarina should not have a tendency to squeak, either on low or high notes - the exception are the soprano ocarinas which should be easily made to squeak on high notes to produce overblown notes of correct intonation. On the Do1 ocarina (soprano C) the high notes should not be too loud, piercing or unpleasantly shrill.


Comfortable breath requirement and responsiveness. Ideally, playing the ocarina should feel like singing - a lot of air is needed to play the highest notes, but the player shouldn't be required to push the air into the instrument by force. The large volume of air should be able to flow into the instrument without much effort, supported by the muscles in the belly. It should not feel like the clarinet or the saxophone. Multi-chambered ocarinas should have the breath requirement balanced across the chambers, so that chamber switching doesn't require illogical breath changes. The ocarina should be responsive enough so that double tonguing and staccato are not difficult and that quick ornaments do not sound blurry.


Precise tuning of all notes in the chromatic scale. This is, obviously, very important - an instrument which is not tuned accurately is not very useful. I wrote in more detail about this in a previous post.


Comfortable ergonomics. The ocarina shouldn't be awkward to hold, but should instead fit the hands nicely and comfortably. Positions of finger holes should be such that they don't force the fingers and the wrists in an uncomfortable position. Ocarinas, especially bass and contrabass sizes, should be as light as possible, even when using a chest support. Multi-chambered ocarina should have a comfortable mouthpiece and spacing of windways and the holes of the right hand which are on different chambers should be fairly close together, so that chamber switching can be done with minimal movement.


Quality finish. Although appearance is the least important item on this list, the ocarina is, after all, a precious music instrument, not a cheap ceramic toy and its appearance should reflect that. High quality craftsmanship and attention to details such as high polished shellac finish or a beautiful glaze certainly make the instrument more desirable.



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 Post subject: Re: What ocarinas best suit your playing style/preference?
PostPosted: 09 Oct 2013, 22:15 

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What you wrote here Kresimir- I would sticky that! For seasoned ocarina constructors and beginners alike, I think they are points to aspire to; guidelines for which one may produce an excellent instrument if they have the mettle to attempt to do so.


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 Post subject: Re: What ocarinas best suit your playing style/preference?
PostPosted: 10 Oct 2013, 07:12 

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I prefer a gentle sound and a medium breath requirement. I used to prefer a light breath but have gradually shifted to a higher breath requirement. Takashi ocarinas fit what I prefer.

I agree with Ross about ?stickying? the post. It gives very high expectations which is always good to strive for when making ocarinas.

Also, what is the breath requirement on ocarinas that can easily play in a concert for 500 people? I would think it would have to be fairly large to get that loud of a sound but I have never played an ocarina that can accomplish that.


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 Post subject: Re: What ocarinas best suit your playing style/preference?
PostPosted: 10 Oct 2013, 11:03 

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I have been liking Tiamo ocarina (black clay series) very much in terms of its sound and playability. Also its surface finish impressed me a lot, simple yet elegant.

By the way, thank you Kresimir, you have made very good points for the requirement specification of ocarina design.

I had written similar points on my blog back in 2006 but in more general way. (http://blog.xuite.net/pankuolong/oca/6346070) And now you have elaborated further in very good details, so I think it is good to also spread your viewpoints around in Taiwanese community. Therefore I would like to ask for your permission to quote and translate your article into Chinese and share it on my blog.


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 Post subject: Re: What ocarinas best suit your playing style/preference?
PostPosted: 10 Oct 2013, 11:22 

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pankuolong wrote:
I had written similar points on my blog back in 2006 but in more general way. (http://blog.xuite.net/pankuolong/oca/6346070) And now you have elaborated further in very good details, so I think it is good to also spread your viewpoints around in Taiwanese community. Therefore I would like to ask for your permission to quote and translate your article into Chinese and share it on my blog.

Of course you have my permission, I'm honoured! I'll just ask you for a favour: when posting about it on your blog, please include a link to the original post here, so that more people find this Forum. :)


Spirit wrote:
Also, what is the breath requirement on ocarinas that can easily play in a concert for 500 people? I would think it would have to be fairly large to get that loud of a sound but I have never played an ocarina that can accomplish that.

500 people is a lot of people if they are outside or in a room that is noisy (people chatting, traffic from the street, farm animals, etc...). But in a concert hall, where there is almost perfect silence and excellent acoustics, it is not at all an unreasonable expectation of an instrument. As a concert instrument, the ocarina belongs in concert halls, auditoriums and churches. A marketplace, even though it can hold significantly fewer people than a concert hall, is not an ideal place to play the ocarina, even though smaller ocarinas (Do1 and Sol2) should be able to be heard even when playing in such places, with all the background noise competing against them.


As far as breath requirement goes, a loud ocarina doesn't have to (and shouldn't) be uncomfortable to play - even though it requires a lot of air, it is still little compared to most other wind instruments, especially reeds like clarinets, saxophones and brass... What is important for the ocarina, in my opinion, is that a lot of air can flow through the windway without too much effort, so that the ocarinist doesn't have the feeling they are forcing the air into the ocarina. Even though a loud ocarina can empty your lungs quickly, it should not be tiresome to play. Ideally, it should be like singing - a singer (especially one that is classically trained) uses a lot of air to produce sound (and therefore, needs strong abdominal muscles to support it), but it is not uncomfortable to do so, because there is no forcing of air (like, for example, when blowing a balloon). I hope that clarifies it.



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 Post subject: Re: What ocarinas best suit your playing style/preference?
PostPosted: 10 Oct 2013, 16:09 

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I expected that the acoustics of a concert hall would help. Yes is does clarify, I do not normally play loud ocarinas just because it is not preference. So does this apply for bass ocarinas as well? Large chamber ocarinas tend to have a much softer sound so how are they heard in a situation like this?


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 Post subject: Re: What ocarinas best suit your playing style/preference?
PostPosted: 11 Oct 2013, 09:55 

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Spirit wrote:
So does this apply for bass ocarinas as well? Large chamber ocarinas tend to have a much softer sound so how are they heard in a situation like this?

Yes, I think it applies even more for bass ocarinas, especially no. 6 (bass G) and no. 7 (contrabass C), but also no. 5 (bass C). In my opinion, they have to be very powerful if they are going to be useful at all - and, unfortunately, many ocarina makers do not realise that. Bass ocarinas are very rarely used as solo instruments - they are mostly used in an ocarina septet, or similar ensembles. And, obviously, they must not be drowned by other ocarinas in the ensemble. Ocarinas no. 6 and 7 are very important for the intonation of the whole group, because they provide the bass part which is of great harmonic importance. And ocarina no. 5 is very important for the rhythm. If you don't have strong bass ocarinas, you can forget about having a good ocarina group.



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 Post subject: Re: What ocarinas best suit your playing style/preference?
PostPosted: 12 Oct 2013, 23:26 

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Moderator edit: This topic has been moved to Ocarina Making and has been stickied. The discussion on shape experiments has been moved to viewtopic.php?f=9&t=768.


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 Post subject: Re: What ocarinas best suit your playing style/preference?
PostPosted: 03 Oct 2014, 17:46 

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Right now, my favorite ocarinas are Hans Rotter, but I like the ocarinas from Claudio Columbo also. I would like to get one or two Pacchioni instruments too.


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