Alto D Ocarina

Pure Ocarinas 11 hole alto D ocarina with shellac finish

Sound Sample

Reviews

Read Revews

Technical Information

Range: C♯5 to G6

Tuning standard: A440 at 20°C

Weight: 200g

Fingering Chart

Finish Options

Description

The Pure Alto D was designed for playing folk music, such as English and Irish traditional music in the original key. These tunes are normally played in D, G or E minor in communal sessions, and having a D ocarina allows you to join in, and play in the same key.

The range of the pure alto D is also ideal for playing music of the Sackpipa, an indigenous bagpipe of Sweden. Its 1 octave E to E range fits perfectly on this ocarina. You can find a tunebook for Sackpipa here, the second half having many tunes in standard notation. And here are numerous play-along videos of Swedish pipe music.

Why D over C?

While you can play in D on a single chamber C ocarina, you lose two notes of range relative to an ocarina in D, specifically the high F# and G. Having these two notes allow you to play a lot more folk tunes in the original key, which allows you to play them with other people in a session, or in unison with commercial recordings.

Playing on a D instrument also simplifies the fingering of such tunes which can allow more possibilities with the fingered articulations commonly used in this genre of music. Playing cuts, strikes and rolls on the ocarina is as easy as on a tin whistle.

Pure Ocarinas include many innovations designed to help you play better, including:

Improved Ergonomics

Pure Ocarinas were designed from the start as concert quality musical instruments, and great ergonomics is a key focus. They are carefully balanced to sit comfortably in the hand, with ergonomically placed and angled finger holes.

All Pure Ocarinas have a functional tail and cappello that make it easier to hold the ocarina on the high notes. They can be used in combination with the 3 point grip, a technique that keeps the right hand fingers close to their finger holes when playing the high notes. Using these support points allows large leaps to be played easily.

The physical weight of the ocarina has also been reduced, as it is easier to support a lighter instrument. Learn more about ergonomics --->

11 holes – better tuning and no acute bend needed

Pure Ocarinas deliberately dispense with the second sub-hole found in Asian 12 hole ocarinas. Eliminating this hole allows the instrument to play with a shallow breath curve and balanced timbre across the entire range. Having a shallow and predictable breath curve makes it easier for you to play complex music with good intonation. Eliminating this hole also allows the ocarina to have strong clear high notes with no need for the acute bend, further improving the ergonomics.

Tuning

The tuning of Pure Ocarinas are individually adjusted by hand to ensure an even breath curve over the entire playing range. All glaze is cleaned out of the holes before firing as stray glaze would mess up the tuning.

These ocarinas are tuned to play in a440 concert pitch at 20 degrees centigrade, with a shallow breath curve that is consistent over the instrument's entire range.

How the different finishes feel

It is important to note that different finishes feel different to play. I can summarise as follows:

  • Glazes. Fired glazes are easy to clean and durable, but trap a layer of moisture between the skin and glaze. This gives the ocarina a 'sticky' or clingy' feel and make smooth finger sliding difficult.
  • Shellac. Natural shellac has been used to finish ocarinas for hundreds of years. It has a better feel than fired glazes, and feels much less sticky under the fingers.
  • Plain. The plain surface of the ceramic. A plain finish is advantageous if you tend to have damp fingers as earthenware is porous. It will absorb finger moisture and keep your fingers dry, resulting in a more consistent feel. Though it does stain over time and can only be cleaned by re-firing to burn it out.

Sliding movements on glazed and shellac ocarinas can be made significantly easier by covering your fingers with talk or chalk dust. This serves to absorb any moisture present and prevents the gripping surface of the skin touching the instrument.

I personally prefer plain finished ocarinas as they have the best feel to me. The staining does not bother me as they age to a slightly yellowed appearance similar to old bone, a likeness frequently cited by people who have seen my instruments.

Reviews

Item Rating: 5 of 5

Sleek appearance, smooth, in-tune notes

After being terribly disappointed by some other ocarina purchases, I was delighted to play a skillfully-made instrument that holds a lovely tune.

Playing my favorite folk tunes on this ocarina is a delight. I will be making any future ocarina purchases from Pure Ocarinas.


Item Rating: 5 of 5

Lockdown Ocarina

When my neighbours started playing weekly music outside during lockdown, I wanted to join in but only had a child’s plastic 4 hole ocarina. It served me well for a short while but, when searching for information about adapting music for an ocarina with a limited range, I came across the Pure Ocarina website. The amount of thought and effort on the website for those of us who are new to the ocarina is simply amazing. Detailed tutorials with audio and video clips have been so useful to me and have clearly been put together by a person who knows their stuff. I felt sure that someone with this level of dedication would make equally refined ocarinas and I have not been disappointed. I’ve been impressed with the sound quality of my alto D and have received many compliments. The transverse shape is so much easier to hold than my plastic pendant and the tail and cappello are perfectly placed to ensure the ocarina remains well balanced on the high notes. I am still learning the basics but am finding the design leads to intuitive developments and improvements. I have noted the meticulous cleaning of glaze from the inside of the fingerholes mentioned by another reviewer.
Many thanks for a quality product that I intend to master in time!


Item Rating: 5 of 5

Delightful!

I have the plain alto D with 11 holes, and it looks and feels great in my hands. Then I played it, and it blew me away! It sounds great and will work in well with my whistles and for playing folk music. It must have been made for me because it did not take long to work out how much breath it required and I was able to play a piece straight off, no fumbling to find out if my fingers were in the right place, which usually happens as my hands are very small. Breathing is a breeze.
This ocarina begs to be played, and its pure clean sound will make it a favourite. Its a winner! I love it!


Item Rating: 5 of 5

Awesome

This is a great ocarina that I use most the time when I'm home or in safe places. No need for acute bending for the high pitch! Great finishing!! Mine is 1 year old and looks like new ^^


Item Rating: 5 of 5

Fabulous!

As soon as I started to play the scale on the Pure Alto D, I knew I had a winner in my hands. The ocarina had a clear,and clean sound all the way up and down the scale. No weakness in the upper notes and a solid subhole note.

Ergonomically, the ocarina is well designed. The fingerholes are placed ideally for my hands and fingers. I have no problems with reaching or covering any of the holes. The overall balance of the ocarina is good. It sits well in your hands with no danger or tipping when you lift off all your fingers to play high notes.


Item Rating: 5 of 5

Great for folk music sessions

This is a great ocarina which has a straightforward linear breath curve which makes it easy to play in tune. It is expertly designed with ergonomics in mind.

It has a moderately high breath pressure in which you do not have to hold back your breath. Though the breath pressure is high, the ocarina isn't overly loud which makes it ideal to play with other musicians as you will not drain out the sound of their instruments. This along with it being in the key of D makes this the ocarina to get for traditional Irish folk music.