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 Post subject: Ocarinas in folk music
PostPosted: Fri Apr 27, 2012 11:02 am 
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Hi all,

I started playing the ocarina (10/11 hole) last year having no prior experience with music. It's been an interesting learning experience as it's the first time music made any sense to me. I mostly play Irish traditional and English folk tunes, anything which will fit within an octave and 3 notes.

Do any of you play ocarina in folk music? It's pretty rare from what I've experienced.


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PostPosted: Fri Apr 27, 2012 5:41 pm 
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I came to Irish Traditional music through the Ocarina.
Started on a cheap, really cheap, sweet potato that I bought for Christmas.
Then I bought a couple of Mountain Ocarinas, which are very nice.
These folks publish a book of music called 300 Celtic Folksongs for MOUNTAIN OCARINAS.


The problem is that so much ITM uses more of two octaves than ocarinas allow.

Tin Whistles were the ticket for me, and though I've keep all my ocarinas, I very seldom use them anymore.

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PostPosted: Fri Apr 27, 2012 6:25 pm 
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Hi Robert - you know me from The Ocarina Network.

I play pretty near nothing but folk music on my ocarinas. Most of it is Scottish tunes using the Highland pipe concert pitch scale, whch fits handily in the range of the G 10-hole ocarina. That gives you the entire pipe repertoire right there, enough for a lifetime, and also the substantial group of Scottish tunes with a 10-note range up to B.

I also play klezmer, which mostly fits a C 11-hole, and sometimes a G 10-hole or a Pacchioni doppia-P in G. There are a handful of klez pieces I use an F or B flat 10-hole for.

Irish music tends to have a wider range than Highland pipe tunes or klezmer and I don't often try using ocarinas for it. You might get one tune in a set that fits, but in a session situation the other folks will immediately take off into something you can't do. (Some particularly good tunes are The Congress Reel and The Gravel Walks, both of which fit a G 10-hole).

There are more English tunes that work, but still a rather small part of the repertoire. You do much better with French, Balkan and Middle Eastern music.

I have a collection of narrow-range mostly-folk tunes from many traditions in my Nine Note Tune Book:

http://www.campin.me.uk/Music/Chalumeau.abc

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PostPosted: Sat Apr 28, 2012 5:35 am 
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I'd like to encourage my granddaughter to get into music of some sort. She's only three so there is no rush but I was wondering if an ocarina would be a better starting point than a whistle? I was reading about plastic 4 hole Ocs that seem to be popular in schools. What would be a good age to start? Any advice welcome. (I'm a piper GHB & SSP myself, and just getting to grips with whistles).


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PostPosted: Sat Apr 28, 2012 5:51 am 
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Ocarinas are very sensitive to breath pressure, far more so than whistles or recorders. If you don't know exactly what pitch you want to get, the fingering won't decide it for you (typically you can blow a single fingering across a minor third).

Also, the limited range means that when playing by ear you will often start a tune and hit the floor or the ceiling.

Neither of those is a problem for an experienced player, but a beginner won't see those problems coming. Ocarinas are a really bad choice for a first instrument.

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PostPosted: Sat Apr 28, 2012 6:11 am 
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A Romanian dance tune, played on ocarina by Ion Laceanu, who plays all sorts of folk woodwinds:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0RvCvpfeDao


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PostPosted: Sat Apr 28, 2012 6:15 am 
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A Romanian dance tune, played on ocarina by Ion Laceanu, who plays all sorts of folk woodwinds:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0RvCvpfeDao

I'd second Jack's comments about ocarinas for beginners.
IMO, whistles are an ideal starter instrument - they are logical (one finger, one hole, one tone), much easier to play than a recorder, and also, they are cheap and nearly indestructable, which I find very important for a child. Also, you get them in different sizes (although the very small ones can be a bit rough on the auditory nerve).


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PostPosted: Sat Apr 28, 2012 7:15 am 
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allrrock wrote:
I'd like to encourage my granddaughter to get into music of some sort. She's only three so there is no rush but I was wondering if an ocarina would be a better starting point than a whistle? I was reading about plastic 4 hole Ocs that seem to be popular in schools. What would be a good age to start? Any advice welcome. (I'm a piper GHB & SSP myself, and just getting to grips with whistles).


For me, the thing that made the difference was Docjazz's youtube marketing of the instrument. I had no prior experience with music and the novelty and uniqueness of the ocarina caught my attention. The ocarina then introduced me to folk music, from outher youtube players.

Rather than focusing on introducing any specific instrument, what you need to in-stow is a general interest for music. I had tried to learn various instruments in the past but never got anywhere with it. What made the difference with the ocarina for me was starting by learning to play songs that I really liked. While technically harder than 'learning excersises', it did keep the interest alive long enough to succeed.

4 hole ocarinas are good novelty items but have limited practical use. Due to the way they are tuned they are an approximation at best. They will never play accurately in tune without a substantial amount of breath control. For any kind of serious playing linear fingered 7 to 11 hole instruments are best. To start with the offerings of Mountain Ocarinas are all good. 12 hole ocarinas should be avoided as they frequently suffer from weak high notes and require the awkward 'acute bend' to play.

In reply to Jack's comment, while the pitch of ocarinas is highly unstable, it only matters when playing with other musicians. When I first learned to play the instrument I didn't notice this effect. I only noticed when I started to make my own ocarinas and bought a tuner.

For starting out, the whistle may be easier, but it does have its difficulties too. I started to learn the whistle specifically because of the ocarinas limited range and have found it to require a lot more breath control, especially in the lower register. Chromatics are also difficult to play on the whistle, which could be a sticking point if she wanted to learn popular music songs.

Ultimately I would say go with whatever instrument creates the most interest and teach her to play the songs she likes. In my own experience, having enough interest always beats technical difficulties.


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PostPosted: Sat Apr 28, 2012 7:44 am 
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maki wrote:
I came to Irish Traditional music through the Ocarina.
Started on a cheap, really cheap, sweet potato that I bought for Christmas.
Then I bought a couple of Mountain Ocarinas, which are very nice.
These folks publish a book of music called 300 Celtic Folksongs for MOUNTAIN OCARINAS.


The problem is that so much ITM uses more of two octaves than ocarinas allow.

Tin Whistles were the ticket for me, and though I've keep all my ocarinas, I very seldom use them anymore.


Hi maki, I started out with Mountain Ocarinas and was introduced to Celtic music through them, though I haven't got there book (US -> UK shipping costs are prohibitive). I've found the same problems with the lack of range, running into several tunes I liked but would not fit. And have since picked up the whistle because of that.

Quote:
Hi Robert - you know me from The Ocarina Network.

I play pretty near nothing but folk music on my ocarinas. Most of it is Scottish tunes using the Highland pipe concert pitch scale, whch fits handily in the range of the G 10-hole ocarina. That gives you the entire pipe repertoire right there, enough for a lifetime, and also the substantial group of Scottish tunes with a 10-note range up to B.

I also play klezmer, which mostly fits a C 11-hole, and sometimes a G 10-hole or a Pacchioni doppia-P in G. There are a handful of klez pieces I use an F or B flat 10-hole for.

Irish music tends to have a wider range than Highland pipe tunes or klezmer and I don't often try using ocarinas for it. You might get one tune in a set that fits, but in a session situation the other folks will immediately take off into something you can't do. (Some particularly good tunes are The Congress Reel and The Gravel Walks, both of which fit a G 10-hole).

There are more English tunes that work, but still a rather small part of the repertoire. You do much better with French, Balkan and Middle Eastern music.

I have a collection of narrow-range mostly-folk tunes from many traditions in my Nine Note Tune Book:

http://www.campin.me.uk/Music/Chalumeau.abc


Hi Jack, as mentioned above I've frequently ran into problems with music that wont fit, thanks for the suggestions. What are some of your personal favorites in your tune book?


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PostPosted: Sat Apr 28, 2012 7:51 am 
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Many thanks for your helpful comments folks. My first thoughts were for whistle until I got distracted by a thread about ocarinas on C&F, so I think I'll stay with my original idea. But I also take on board robehickman's point that the important thing is to get her interested in music - my wife and I both try to teach her Scottish nursery rhymes and Glasgow street songs. Her mother and I have played flute and whistle together to her, but, as she lives in the south of England, she hasn't been subjected to the pipes yet!


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PostPosted: Sat Apr 28, 2012 8:44 am 
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There is nothing that says that you can't play both whistles and ocarinas. If you play the whistle right handed (which I don't) the fingering is pretty much the same. Folks will think you're brilliant that you're multi-instrumental.

You have got to play an ocarina (and a whistle for that matter) in a stairwell (or cave if you got one.) The acoustics are awesome.

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PostPosted: Sat Apr 28, 2012 7:08 pm 
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allrrock wrote:
I'd like to encourage my granddaughter to get into music of some sort. She's only three so there is no rush but I was wondering if an ocarina would be a better starting point than a whistle? I was reading about plastic 4 hole Ocs that seem to be popular in schools. What would be a good age to start? Any advice welcome. (I'm a piper GHB & SSP myself, and just getting to grips with whistles).

I like the Clark Sweetone for a childs first whistle.
They are decent whistles for a very affordable price.
And since they have conical bores, the hole spread is a bit closer for wee hands.

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PostPosted: Tue May 01, 2012 9:05 pm 
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I second the Clark Sweetone. An excellent value and suited for a child's hands. Age three might be a bit young to expect anything more than enthusiastic tooting, but they're never too young to become enthusiastic.

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PostPosted: Mon May 07, 2012 12:56 pm 
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Most folk songs will fit nicely into the range of a single-chamber ocarina.

The very fact that the pitch of an ocarina is as labile as it is gives the instrument wonderful possibilities for note-bending, especially when you add the same tone-hole techniques that work so well on the whistle.


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PostPosted: Thu May 17, 2012 12:46 pm 
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ubizmo wrote:
Most folk songs will fit nicely into the range of a single-chamber ocarina.

The very fact that the pitch of an ocarina is as labile as it is gives the instrument wonderful possibilities for note-bending, especially when you add the same tone-hole techniques that work so well on the whistle.


Hi ubizmo, the pitch variability certainly has its advantages, but it does make ocarinas pretty difficult to play in tune, relative to other woodwinds.


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