Ocarina- hole design and placement

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Steve Senseney
Posts: 673
Joined: Fri Jan 06, 2012 2:45 pm

Ocarina- hole design and placement

Post by Steve Senseney »

I want to make some wooden ocarinas. I was planning on a simple windway, and fipple design, with a square box (rather than curved or carved) for the body.

I see designs for 4 hole, 6 hole, 8 hole and more than 8 hole designs.

These are for my grand children to amuse them selves with, rather than for concert artists.

I realize that I need to make the hole placement where their fingers will reach.

Any other suggestions about design features?

Yuri Terenyi
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Joined: Fri Jun 29, 2012 12:56 am

Re: Ocarina- hole design and placement

Post by Yuri Terenyi »

The position of fingerholes on an ocarina is fairly unimportant, it is the cross-section of each hole that is crucial to the tuning. (To be precise, there is a difference between fingerholes placed in different positions, but as a rule of thumb, don't go there, it's practically incalculable.)
With each fingerhole, start undersize, and keep on enlarging them until the right note is reached. The first fingerhole will be as tiny as 2mm in diameter. The one an octave above will reach something in the region of 8-9mm, or even more.
Otherwise there isn't much that constricts the imagination. As long as the mouth is made carefully, and produces a decent tone, the only other requirement is that the internal volume is airtight apart from the fingerholes, and there aren't too crazy internal twists and turns for the air volume to get lost in.
The attached pic shows a tubular ocarina, carved from bone (horse metatarsus, to be precise) having four fingerholes on the top, giving an octave, plus two more thumbholes, adding another two notes. Could have made that into a third, too, but didn't see any need for that.
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Jason Rodgers
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Location: Portland, OR

Re: Ocarina- hole design and placement

Post by Jason Rodgers »

You made this bone instrument, Yuri? That's beautiful!
-Ruining perfectly good wood, one day at a time.

Yuri Terenyi
Posts: 134
Joined: Fri Jun 29, 2012 12:56 am

Re: Ocarina- hole design and placement

Post by Yuri Terenyi »

http://wood-n-bone.co.nz/wooden_ocarina.jpg

I normally make these. Much cheaper. That was just a show-off.

Jason Rodgers
Posts: 1554
Joined: Fri Jan 06, 2012 4:05 pm
Location: Portland, OR

Re: Ocarina- hole design and placement

Post by Jason Rodgers »

Wow, like a micro-recorder. Does the stopper at the end pull in and out for tuning, or just decoration?

Don't mean to hijack your thread, Steve. I've just never seen ocarinas other than the clay variety.
-Ruining perfectly good wood, one day at a time.

Yuri Terenyi
Posts: 134
Joined: Fri Jun 29, 2012 12:56 am

Re: Ocarina- hole design and placement

Post by Yuri Terenyi »

The stopper is for fine-tuning the basic pitch. With any ocarina (or, for that matter, any flue woodwind especially, but to a lesser extent any woodwind) as you play, the pitch changes with the warming up and change in the moisture content of the instrument. Which means that if you play with a fixed pitch instrument(s), you are in trouble. A recorder, which is a tiny bit less susceptible to this affliction, can rise in pitch as much as 10 cents or so. So your guitar or whatever accompanist must stop and retune the guitar. (or the whatever, like the piano or the great cathedral organ :o) That is, if you have a single-piece recorder. Fortunately for modern players, recorders these days are very rarely single piece ones. (you just pull out the middle joint a bit, and voila! the pitch drops.)
Well, ocarinas are even worse than recorders. Hence the stopper. You just pull it out a bit.
Actually, if you pull it out a rather considerable, but still feasible bit, you can play in A=415, and it is still reasonably in tune. Not that I ever met anyone wishing to play in Baroque pitch on one of these, but you never know...

Steve Senseney
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Joined: Fri Jan 06, 2012 2:45 pm

Re: Ocarina- hole design and placement

Post by Steve Senseney »

Thanks Yuri!!

I have looked at your site.

I could find some old deer bones, but I don't think I could do such nice carving!

I see sites talking about 4 or more holes.

Which do you recommend?

Yuri Terenyi
Posts: 134
Joined: Fri Jun 29, 2012 12:56 am

Re: Ocarina- hole design and placement

Post by Yuri Terenyi »

The difference is between having a designated hole for each tone, or cross-fingering, in which case 4 holes will do for an octave. In the second case, the instrument will be diatonic in the lower half, but cross-fingered semitones are usually possible higher up. In the first case, you can cross-finger probably all but the very first semitone.
All in all, I haven't even tried a large, fingerhole-per-tone kind, apart from holding one, trying the fingering, and deciding that it's far too cumbersome. In any case, if someone wants a fully chromatic, manageable instrument, there is always the recorder. An ocarina's strength is precisely that it's not pretentious, and is very simple to learn. Also, you can slip one into your pocket, and not worry overmuch about what happens to it, as nothing is likely to.
However, having said this, that's only my opinion. Others disagree.

Steve Senseney
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Joined: Fri Jan 06, 2012 2:45 pm

Re: Ocarina- hole design and placement

Post by Steve Senseney »

I respect and appreciate your comments and help.

Jason Rodgers
Posts: 1554
Joined: Fri Jan 06, 2012 4:05 pm
Location: Portland, OR

Re: Ocarina- hole design and placement

Post by Jason Rodgers »

You make amazing instruments, Yuri, and your site is great! I watched a few of the videos with the double pipes, and what a haunting sound!
-Ruining perfectly good wood, one day at a time.

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