Rating: 4.9 of 5 stars
Product price: Check latest in amazon.com
Product asin : B0018GR9VI
I purchased this awhile ago from STL ocarinas, a site which makes many different kinds of ocarinas. This one is a tenor ocarina in C (concert pitch), made of blue-stained ceramic. It has a written range of A3 to F5 *including flats and sharps* It sounds one octave higher than written, so the tonal range is from A4 (above middle C on the piano) to F6. The "Ocarina of Time" is a tenor and this replica covers most of the tonal range. Just a few comparisons before I go on: -The lowest note in the "Serenade of Water" (A button on the N64 controller) is the low C on this ocarina. The lowest note the instrument can play is the A below that. -The ocarina cannot play the top note in the "Sun's Song", but comes close. ***Technical stuff*** There are 12 holes on the instrument. Two are for the thumbs, then there are five for each hand. The fingering scheme takes awhile to get used to. Low A, B-flat, B, and C# require covering one or both of two very small holes above the middle finger on each hand. These notes can hardly be played in anything but a slow passage. This problem can be fixed with the C# if you play a C and blow faster air, bringing the pitch up. It's not perfect, but it works. The fingering for low Eb given by STL uses this small hole, but your life will be much easier if you use these variations instead: Eb: X-XXXX X-XXOX (basic) OR X-OXXX X-XXXX (slightly brigher) And this fingering may help for low F natural if it consistently plays flat: X-XXOX X-XXXO X- refers to the thumbs, X means the hole is covered, and O means the hole is open. One thing I really like is that it's easy to make up fingerings depending on the piece. Instead of the basic fingerings for notes, I've found quite a few alternates that work well to make the ocarina sound darker, more mellow, brighter, etc. The higher notes are difficult to play because as you get higher you will have to lift your thumbs off of the tone holes on the bottom (high D through high F), and it becomes difficult to hold the instrument. Starting at high D, you can cover the right tone hole of your right hand with your pinky to brace the instrument. These high notes also have a tendency to play flat or not come out at all, in which case you may have to bob your head or change the position of the instrument to get the notes out (something which is explained in a very helpful FAQ on STL's website). Again, it's not perfect but it's necessary and it works. I play the instrument at a 45 degree angle to my left; that feels the most comfortable for me and helps me get all the notes out. Ocarinas do require plenty of air, but not as much as the flute or piccolo. There isn't much of an embouchure to worry about - you basically just blow into it. Due to it's warmer tone color I think this ocarina is meant more for soloistic playing. ******************** The ocarina comes with STL's hand-made song book with many Zelda songs. The songs are written in a form of tablature (TAB) and a few are transposed for ease or to fit the notes within the range of the instrument. I found this book pretty useless since I can read music. For those of you who are tech savvy, I would recommend downloading MIDI files of the various Zelda songs and opening them in a program like Noteworthy Composer, Finale, or Sibelius. There are probably some free readers out there somewhere. Linux users can use (free) programs like Rosegarden and MuseScore. The ocarina also comes with a neck strap that is threaded through the instrument. It's annoying, but your only protection against dropping an $80 piece of ceramic on the floor. A carrying case is also included. The instructional booklet isn't as helpful as the forums or videos on STL's website, so go there for additional information. Lastly, *DO NOT BUY THIS FOR CHILDREN* Ceramic is durable but will break if you drop it on a hard floor. Plastic ocarinas don't sound the greatest but they are very cheap and easy to replace if broken. This makes a great gift for Zelda fans and musicians alike. Highly recommended. Comment if you have questions! Last updated 8/13/11 UPDATE: STL has made improvements to their design of this ocarina. I have noticed that they have made the two small accidental holes larger, possibly to help with the pitch of the accidental notes. Just a guess.