Thursday, January 31, 2013

My New Passion

This little guy is a Mountain Ocarinas Polycarbonate inline ocarina tuned in the key of C.  It is  about 5.5 inches long, and has a range from B4 (low B) to E6 (high E), and with some coaxing, it can play A4 to F6.  It is fully chromatic, although I generally choose the easy keys!  Although it seems like a limited range, there are thousands and thousands of tunes that fit. Virtually all folk music and traditional tunes can be played on an ocarina with this range, as well as the vast majority of popular tunes.

Ocarinas are "pocket flutes"  and are actually ancient instruments found in one shape or another in most cultures.  Most people are more familiar with the sweet potato style ocarina, but the inline ocarinas are also a traditional shape.  They can be made of clay, wood, ceramic, or any number of other materials.  This polycabonate material is injection molded and is very inexpensive by comparison to the others, is virtually indestructible, and has a great tone.

I first got interested in the ocarina while looking for something to play for double tracking with my Taylor guitar, since my singing leaves - ahem - a bit to be desired, and I just stumbled across ocarinas.  Then I found Mountain Ocarinas, ordered one, and was hooked!

I got my first ocarina back in September 2012, a polycarbonate MO-G (considerably smaller, and tuned in G, a fifth higher), and was off and running in a matter of minutes!  I am still not a great player but am just having a blast, and have a couple of YouTube videos posted.  The first one, Amazing Grace, was recorded on an iPhone on our deck at Birch Bay, but the later ones, like Frosty and Snowman and Finnegan's Wake, were recorded with Audacity with a condenser mike and videoed on a Canon SX-20, so the quality is a tad better, even if my playing isn't!  My channel is Pat Anderson.  There is also a recorder duet there that Patty and I did a little while ago, as my renewed interest in playing tunes rekindled my interest in the recorders that we used to play together 40 years ago!

The polycarbonate C ocarina cost $25, and I don't go anywhere without it in my pocket. I am accumulating a massive collection of sheet music for it, and and getting more and more tunes that I know by heart.  Mountain Ocarinas also makes ocarinas out of different materials, including hardwood, but I am waiting for a very special one that is in development, the ProRange, which will have a two octave range.   It will be made of hardwood, by hand, and will be pretty pricey little instrument, but there is no turning back!  I must have it!