Ocarina Month

I have decided to name this month Ocarina Month. Throughout February, in order to celebrate this remarkable and variable instrument, I will share photos of the ocarinas in my collection.

The Raindrop

Teardrop1

This is a four-hole Raindrop ocarina from clayz.com. A nice thing about Clayz instruments is that they are pretty but also clearly meant to be played. You’d think the very definition of ocarina would require it to be playable, but a lot of them are cheaply made with no consideration for the physics of sound. Some are beautifully crafted but intended for decorative use only. An attractive, playable ocarina is therefore an especially wonderful thing.

Sadly, this particular ocarina just taught me something new about playability. Though the tuning is good, it is only playable for brief periods of time. As I play it, water from my breath condenses inside. This is normal. But in this ocarina, the space in the mouthpiece is so narrow that the water starts to block airflow, making it almost impossible to play after that point. I really think that they try to make their instruments playable, so I’m not holding it against them much, but I sent them an e-mail to let them know about the flaw. It will be interesting to see what they say about it.

Ocarinas come in all shapes and sizes. I wanted to start off big, so I showed you the biggest first, but when it comes to ocarinas, bigger is not always better. The bigger the instrument, the lower the pitch, the larger the holes, and the further away the holes must be. My fingers are barely large enough to cover the holes on the Raindrop, so I wouldn’t want one much bigger. Of course, there’s also a limit to how small an ocarina can be. Tomorrow I will show you the smallest.

Update 1: The Clayz people answered my e-mail on the same day I sent it, and they not only offered to replace the ocarina but also to reimburse me for shipping. They really do want their ocarinas played, and isn’t that great? I’m very impressed.

Update 2: I played the ocarina again the other day and wasn’t able to reproduce the problem. Maybe there’s nothing wrong with the ocarina at all, though I could swear the same thing happened at least one other time. I’ll try again and see what happens. I’ll keep you posted.

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2 Responses to Ocarina Month

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