Which ocarina type should I learn?

Now that you are aware of the types of ocarinas that exist, which ocarina type should you learn?

Assuming that your goal is to learn to play music, I'd advise learning a transverse ocarina designed firstly as a playable instrument. They are by far the most technically developed of any ocarina type, and offer a lot of diversity in melodic performance.

  • Unlike pendants, transverse ocarinas, as well as multichamber transverse ocarinas, can be tuned extremely accurately. It makes your job easier by allowing you to focus on playing music instead of compensating for tuning errors.
  • Inlines, while they use a very similar fingering system, have generally received far less thought into their ergonomics, and the tasks of supporting the instrument on different notes, as well as moving between different notes.

However, I'd advise learning not just any transverse ocarina, but one that was designed from the start as a serious musical instrument.

Playing any instrument well requires not just a conscious understanding of mechanics like breath pressure and fingering system, but deep subconscious knowledge commonly called 'muscle memory'. Developing that subconscious knowledge is done through the repetitive practice of exercises over months, if not years, and once done cannot be easily changed.

Consistency in instrument design, and a well thought out ergonomic basis is important as it allows you to continually build on and refine their technique. In the case of a sculptural transverse ocarina, it is very easy for a well meaning designer to put a visual feature in a position that gets in the player's way, or prevents standard playing technique being used.

Harmony ocarinas

Harmony ocarinas and Huaccas have interesting potential in musical performance. They have been used very effectively, for example by Nancy Rumble. However I won't be mentioning them again in this book for a number of reasons:

  • Firstly, I don't play harmony ocarinas, and thus do not have the experience required to offer advice on playing them.
  • Secondly, harmony ocarinas are not standardised at all. There are so many variations of harmony ocarinas that documenting all of the different types would considerably increase the size of this book, while also offering very little in the way of useful information.
  • Due to the lack of standardisation, it is impossible to know what, if any, kind of harmony ocarina a player would be able to obtain.

They are worth exploring for an enterprising player or composer, and do offer interesting musical possibilities.

Closing

For the remainder of this book my focus will be on teaching the mechanics of the transverse ocarina, for the reasons mentioned above. Points relating to the physics of the instrument are mostly applicable to any ocarina / vessel flute.