Ocarina is one of the most unique wind instruments. Invented years and years ago, the instrument still has its own fan base among the high-end modern ones, for its mystic sound. Ocarina is technically a type of vessel flute with four or more holes and a projection hole.
The first mention of ocarina or a similar type of instrument was found in documents over 12,000 years ago, in China and America. The instruments were used by Mayans and the Aztecs as well. The modern day ocarina can be made of different materials such as wood, bone, metal, glass, plastic, but the most common type is the one made of ceramic clay.
The Different Types of Ocarina
Used during the Mayan civilisation, ocarina has come a long way and naturally has gone through innumerable modifications to create many varieties of it. Ocarinas are classified either based on their shapes, sizes or the number of holes on them.
Of all the ocarinas, the transverse one is the most common and is vividly used by musicians all across the world for its ergonomic design. Also known as the sweet potato ocarina, these usually have 10 or 12 holes on them, with an almost conical body which the musician holds to play.
Another common type of ocarina is the pendant style ocarinas. These are really small in size and usually have a lesser number of holes than the transverse ocarinas. The English Pendant ocarinas use the John Taylor way of fingering and usually have four to six holes. On the other hand, the Peruvian pendant ocarina dates back older, and often has an animal-like design, with eight to nine holes on them.
Except these common ocarinas, there are complex ones such as the multi-chambered ocarinas, the inline ocarinas etc.
Also, like other wind instruments, the ocarinas can also be classified based on their pitches to alto, tenor, soprano and bass ocarinas.
Things to Consider When Buying an Ocarina
While buying an ocarina, the first thing to remember is the purpose of playing it. Based on the material, the pitch range and its size, the instrument can create various different styles and moods of music. Having an idea about the type of music it will be used for is, thus, necessary.
As discussed earlier, ocarinas can be made of as many as six different materials.
The most common materials nowadays to make ocarinas are either plastic, ceramic or porcelain. These materials play a huge role in the tonal quality of the ocarina and also its price.
The cheapest of these three is the plastic ocarina. This type of ocarina is also very lightweight, hence the beginners may opt for it. However, these fail to produce professional level sound.
The porcelain ocarinas are considered the best, as they produce very clear and loud sounds. But, these ocarinas are a little too expensive.
Any wind instrument has limited scope for creating finger holes or keys. This also limits the pitch range of the instruments. The brightness of sound depends on the pitch of the instrument. The pitch is determined by the holes on the ocarina. Though the pitch range will be more with more holes, it will get more complex to play as well.
Since the body of the ocarina is a valve for air to pass, the size of the ocarina plays a huge role in the tonal quality of the instrument as well. The pitch varies with the size as well.
People with bigger hands will feel more comfortable playing a bigger ocarina, and similarly, those with smaller hands will need smaller ocarinas. Also, the lung capacity matters a lot while playing bigger ocarinas. So, one must keep in mind all these points and choose their instrument carefully.
5 Best Ocarinas for Beginners
We now have a clearer idea about the types of different ocarinas to understand which type suits us better. Now, let us look at five best ocarinas for beginners.
We start with one of the most popular beginner level ocarinas available at the moment – the Night by Noble ocarina. Its playibility and beginner friendly features has made one of the most bought ocarinas of recent times. Let us look at its features.
- 12 hole alto C ocarina
- Body of the ocarina made of plastic and has a rubber coating
- Scaled from Low A to High F
- Extremely easy to play with very little air projection required
- Suitable for children as well
- Comes with a hard case and all the necessary accessories
- Made in the common teardrop form for maximum comfort
- Available in two stylish matte black and ivory colour options
With some of the best features to suit the novice learners, the Night by Noble is surely one of the best beginner ocarinas.
One franchise which the ocarina lovers relate the instrument to is the game series- Legend of Zelda, which had an entire series revolving around a specially styled ocarina. Cheffort took that ocarina out of the gaming world and made it real.
The Cheffort 12-hole ocarina thus earned a special place for those looking for ocarinas, and has also become a collector’s item. We will now look at the technical features of this particular ocarina which makes it an experience to play.
- 12 hole ocarina
- Made with kiln-fired porcelain
- Made in the Legend of Zelda style with a glossy blue coating and logo
- Comes with a Legend of Zelda velvet pouch and ocarina straps
- Songbook with Legend of Zelda songs, and finger chart
So, bring home this stylish and unique product to boost your confidence and try your hands on one of the best beginner friendly ocarinas.
Next up on our list is yet another stylish piece of musical instrument – the Forest Whisper straw fire ocarina. Not only its look and feel but its melodious tuning, loud and clear sound has made all its customers its fan.
Let us now see what sets it apart from the rest of the ocarinas on this list.
- 12 hole alto C ocarina
- Tuned by top grade tuners
- Truly handmade with high quality ceramic
- Burnt in kiln with natural straw to make it easier to play
- Smooth high notes, no airy noise
- Completely lead free
- Comes with Chinese jade beaded neck strap and padded pouch
- A song book with Legends of Zelda songs and finger chart included
So, if you want to play some famous movie numbers or some classic folk, the Forest Whisper comes complete with tutorial guide and all its accessories to solve your problems.
The Legend of Zelda has had a great influence on people who want to learn ocarina. It is evident by the number of companies who have made ocarinas inspired by the game.
Songbird is no different, as they brought to the market their own variant. Their Kokiri edition Songbird Ocarina of Time Replica, went on to become immensely popular not only because of its resemblance to the ocarina in the game, but also for the high quality performance.
Here are the features which put the Songbird ocarina in the list of best beginners’ ocarinas.
- Six hole pendant style alto ocarina
- Made with premium quality, durable plastic
- Has the pitch range of a 12 hole ocarina
- Tuned in C scale
- Clear sound with no airy noise in higher notes
- The holes are spread in a way to make fingering smooth
- Comes with tutorial and song guide with songs from Legend of Zelda
- Extremely budget-friendly compared to other ocarinas with similar features
So, if you ever wanted to own the ‘Ocarina of Time’ which Link played to save Hyrule, here is your chance. This ocarina has been given extra decorative holes to match the iconic design used in the movie and guess what, it is easier to play as well.
Some instruments just play well, while others are more aesthetically pleasing, making them stand out among others. The OcarinaWind 12 hole ocarina belongs to the latter category. This ocarina has a very unique design which distinguishes it from other ocarinas. Alongside the look factor, this boasts of professional grade qualities.
Let us quickly check them out to understand why this ocarina is one of the best for beginners.
- 12 hole transverse alto ocarina
- Made with white ceramic along with an unique ice-crack textured look, but a smooth glossy finish
- Tuned in the C scale
- Has a pitch range from low A to high F
- Brilliant breath response and loud sound
- Comes with Chinese jade beaded neck strap, song book, finger chart and a padded pouch
With an artistic look and qualities to match any costly ocarina at a fraction of a price, the OcarinaWind ice-crack edition will surely be a great pick for the beginners.
Be it to play your favourite Legend of Zelda song or to produce the mystic mountain mood, picking up an ocarina makes you a musician. Each instrument requires its own time to get used to, so does an ocarina.
Do not let the passion with which you started, put in all your hard work, take the necessary help from this article, and let your imagination flow in the melodious stream of the beautiful tune of your most suitable ocarina.