Using articulation and ornamentation on the ocarina

While I have outlined the articulations and ornaments that ocarinas are able to perform, you may still wonder how to apply them in practice. This page shows how they can be applied to two examples: a song called The Foggy Dew, and a jig called Out On the Ocean. Don't worry if the examples are not to your taste, as the same concepts apply to all melodic music.

Phrasing and articulation in songs

The Foggy Dew is a song about the Irish Easter Uprising. It is a ballad with 6 verses and no repeated chorus, though the melody itself does repeat. If you look up the melody, you will find something along the lines of this:


X: 1
T:The Foggy Dew - melody
Z:2006 John Chambers <jc@trillian.mit.edu>
R:air
M:4/4
K:Em
Bd |: e2 dB e2 dB | A2 B2 D2 EF | GBAG E2 ED |1 E6 Bd:|
|2 E6 EF | G2 B2 d2 cB | A3 A B2 GA | B2 gf ed Bd | e6 |
Bd|e2 dB e2 dB|A2 B2 D2 EF|GBAG E2 ED| E6 |

The most fundamental thing you need to consider regarding articulation in practice is phrasing. A phrase is like a sentence, a complete musical 'idea'. In vocal music, phrasing is almost always derived from the structure of the lyrics. Below I have added the lyrics of the first verse. Notice that both the notes and their durations vary to fit the lyrics. Even the repeat goes away as the melody now differs.


X: 1
T:The Foggy Dew - lyrics
M:4/4
L:1/8
K:Em
   B2| e2   dB  e2   d2   | A2  B2  D2    EF  | GB3   E2 E2 |  E4 z2 |
w: As  down th-e glen one    Ea-ster morn, to a  ci-ty fair rode I
   B2   |e2  d2 e3 d    |A2 B2 D3      E | G2B2       E3     E | E4 z2 |
w: There Arm-ed lines of march-ing men in  squad-rons passed me  by
\
   E2 | G3    B   d2   B2 | A3 A    B2   G2 | B2 g2 f3 d | e6 |
w: No   pipe  did hum, no   bat-tle drum did  sound its loud ta-ttoo
  Bd |    e2 dB     e2   dB      | A2 B2     D2   E2  | G2 BG E3 E | E6 |
w:But the An-ge-lus Bell o

When the lyrics are considered, phrasing becomes apparent: where a comma or period would be placed is usually a phrase break. I have marked these in the sheet music below with slur marks. You don't have to write out the lyrics in practice, as you can also learn this from listening. I'd always advise listening to a sung performance before attempting to play a song instrumentally.

Note that you should not reference The Chieftains' performance with Sinéad O'Connor for basic phrasing of this song, as the phrasing of that performance is unusual. I have a note on this at the end of the section.


X: 1
T:The Foggy Dew - phrasing
M:4/4
L:1/8
K:Em
   (B2| e2   dB  e2   d2   | A2  B2  D2)   (EF  | GB3   E2 E2 |  E4) z2 |
w: As  down th-e glen one    Ea-ster morn, to a  ci-ty fair rode I
   (B2   |e2  d2 e3   d |A2 B2 D3)   (E | G2B2       E3     E | E4) z2 |
w: There Arm-ed lines of march-ing men in  squad-rons passed me  by
\
   *E2 | G3    B   d2)   (B2 | A3 A  B2)   (G2 | B2 g2 f3 d | Ge6) |
w: No   pipe  did hum, no   bat-tle drum   did  sound its loud ta-ttoo
 (Bd |    e2 dB     e2   dB      | A2 B2     D2)   (E2  | G2 BG E3 E | E6) |
w:But the An-ge-lus Bell o

It is important to note that, when a melody has a pickup note (anacrusis), that the end of a phrase is often not the end of the bar. As the above has a quarter note pickup, the end of the phrase ends a quarter note before the end of the bar. Bar lines mark the basic structure but often do not directly indicate phrasing.

Basic articulation

The goal when playing is to make phrases sound independent. On the ocarina, you control phrasing by varying your articulation, as varying volume and timbre is near impossible. A good starting point is to begin each phrase tonguing the first note, then slur the remaining notes in the phrase. If there are any notes of the same pitch, separate them by tonguing them, but make this articulation shorter and softer. Tonguing further towards the back of the mouth helps with this.

The following example shows how you may do this. Phrases are again indicated with slurs and rests indicate the longer stop, added to separate them. In practice these articulations would be much shorter, just long enough that the phrases sound distinct, so the song stops sounding like a single string of notes.

Aim to play each of these phrases as a single breath. The gap between two phrases is a good place to take a breath, as this note is already being shortened to create phrasing. You don't want to be struggling running out of breath as that always sounds bad.


X: 1
T:The Foggy Dew - basic articulation
M:4/4
L:1/8
K:Em
   (B2| e2   dB  e2   d2   | A2  B2  D)z   (EF  | GB3   E2 E2 |  E4) z2 |
w: As  down th-e glen one    Ea-ster morn, to a  ci-ty fair rode I
   (B2   |e2  d2 e3   d |A2 B2 D)z   (E | G2B2       E3     E | E4) z2 |
w: There Arm-ed lines of march-ing men in  squad-rons passed me  by

Adding interest

While this is a start and gives the music a good structure, it is still rather plain. As was hinted above, you don't have to slur a whole phrase. This seperation is caused by varying your articulation, and that can be done once you see that tongued articulations can be strong or weak. You could briefly tongue a note to create a weak articulation, and stop the air for longer to get a stronger one.

It is also possible to vary the articulation used within a phrase. For example, when a word is sung across two or more notes, you can replicate this by slurring those notes in a single breath. I feel that the best way to develop an intuition for this is to listen to performances. You can also experimentally vary your articulation, as you may chance on something that sounds good.


X: 1
T:The Foggy Dew - Sub-phrases
M:4/4
L:1/8
K:Em
   B2| e2   (dB)  e2   d2   | (A2  B2)  Dz   EF  | (GB3)   E2 E2 |  E4 z2 |
w: As  down th-e glen one    Ea-ster morn, to a  ci-ty fair rode I
   B2   |(e2  d2 e3)   d |(A2 B2) D2z   E | (G2B2)       E3     E | E4 z2 |
w: There Arm-ed lines of march-ing men in  squad-rons passed me  by

You can also vary your articulation between phrases as the main thing that separates them is change, not necessarily a gap. For example, a series of short staccato notes followed by a series of legato notes can sound like two phrases, as they are notably different.


X: 1
M:4/4
L:1/8
K:D
| Dz Fz Az Dz | (D2F2A2D2)

Using fingered articulations

On the ocarina, you can also make use of fingered articulations, cuts and strikes

Thoughts on...

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