An ocarina is a small portable musical instrument which can be played by young and old alike. The Nintendo game "Ocarina of Time" has helped renew the popularity of ocarinas, which used to be a major source of entertainment before the advent of radio and television. This site is aimed at giving some general information about the ocarina as will as information on how to buy our hand crafted, decorated, ceramic ocarinas.
An exciting new feature on our site is the Free Songs page which will offer songs for our customers to download and play. Be sure to bookmark this page so you can check back to see if the next song has been put up.
The question we are most frequently asked is "was this your idea?" The answer most definitely is "No!" The ocarina belongs to the ancient family of musical instruments called "vessel flutes". Vessel flutes are made in a variety of shapes and sizes, but generally have a somewhat globular shape contrasted to the elongated open end tubular flute. Ocarina like instruments made of animal horns, gourds or clay were found around the world by archeologists and date back as far as 30,000 years. They have been made with from one to ten holes. No country of origin could be determined for they seemed to have appeared everywhere at the same time.
Variations of the "vessel flute," or ocarina, have been made in many shapes and played all over the world. The ancient Chinese had egg-shaped instruments called "hsuan" which were made from porcelain, like our ocarinas. The Indians of Central and South America made their clay "vessel flutes" in the shape of birds and other animals or human form - even deities. They were used to both entertain and communicate. These whistle ocarinas were highly personalized musical instruments to the Indians of the Ulua Valley of Honduras. Every member of the tribe had a whistle call by which he or she could be recognized. In Italy in the 1800's, the whistle style flute appeared and was called ocarina, meaning "little goose", because its shape resembled a goose in flight.
Today the term ocarina has become the generic term for the vessel style flute the world over. In the United States the ocarina was known as the "Sweet Potato" because it was produced in a more elongated shape. This style of ocarina became very popular and maintained this popularity until the 1930's and 1940's when radios and phonographs replaced them as home entertainment and harmonicas replaced them as pocket-sized instruments. During World War II the United States government issued a plastic version of the "Sweet Potato" shaped ocarina to soldiers to build up morale.
In recent years there has been a revival of interest in the ocarina due to its popularity at Renaissance Faires, a popular theme festival featuring games, entertainment, food, drink, crafts and dress of that time period in Europe. During the Renaissance period bands of ocarina players would furnish entertainment throughout Europe, harmonizing with ocarinas tuned to different octaves.
The appearance of the Nintendo game, "Zelda, Ocarina of Time" in which the ocarina is played by Link on his crusade to save the kingdom of Princess Zelda from the evil Ganondorf has also added to the ocarina's resurgence. Small enough to put in a pocket or wear as a jewelry pendant, the mini ocarinas are always at hand and ready to be played. Having no moving parts, they are true "multi-frequency solid state resonators" of very low cost and low maintenance.
The ocarina tonal range is limited to one octave (or sometimes a range of nine notes by using the fifth hole on the bottom of the ocarina as some like ours are equipped). Fortunately the range of folk tunes seldom exceeds one octave. Thousands of tunes from many periods and many cultures are therefore playable on any of the ocarinas. And by varying the size of the ocarinas the craftspeople can vary the "vocal" range from Soprano to Bass to enhance ensemble playing.
The answer to that first question again is "No, we did not think this up." However we have put a lot of energy into learning to make ocarinas (which is no easy feat) and additional time in developing craft of making ocarinas as a family business.
We are often transposing popular songs into scores for the ocarina so our customers can enjoy playing these favorites themselves. Our latest is the theme from Harry Potter. Those who recently bought their ocarinas have asked that it be put up on this site for them to learn from, so here it is.
BACK to TOP
Site Design by ASHnatko Designs