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A pair of alto-ranged ocarinas

The ocarina is a musical instrument that is part of the woodwind family. Ocarinas are usually made out of terracotta or plastic materials. They are played similarly to blowing a whistle. The body is approximately teardrop shaped with a short pipe containing the whistle that is blown by the performer. The shape of the instrument is somewhat like a sweet potato, hence the old-fashioned slang term for the instrument.[1]

The range of an ocarina is usually around a ninth interval, and within this range it is chromatic. The more common ocarina ranges are stated below:

  • G Soprano
  • F Soprano
  • C Soprano
  • Bb Soprano
  • G Alto
  • F Alto
  • C Alto
  • Bb Alto

The timbre of the ocarinas vary with their range. The higher-pitched ocarinas have soft, flute-like sounds. Their lower-pitched counterparts resemble a hollow, melancholy quality that is unique. Dynamically, the instrument is not capable of producing crescendos and diminuendos, instead bending the note upwards or downwards, respectively. Due to its folk origins, there appears to be no standard notation for the ocarina.


  1. Blatter A. (1997) Instrumentation and Orchestration, 2nd edn, Schirmer Thompson Learning, United States Of America. pg. 302-303 ISBN 0-534-25187-0