December is here, christmas is near :)

Yay! December is finally here, which means that christmas is right around the corner. And with christmas comes christmas music. I haven’t been able to record a christmas song yet but I thought I’d let you know about a resource for christmas tunes. It’s “Paul Hardy’s Xmas Tunebook 2012”. He’s collected lots of classical christmas tunes and carols for the English concertina, but they fit well on the ocarina to. You can download it both as a PDF and ABC file from his website.
http://www.pghardy.net/concertina/tunebooks/#xmas

My Rotter ZFan has arrived :)

So my Rotter ZFan just arrived the other day. This is my first impressions of it. The Rotter ZFan was my prize for the 2013 TONs of Fun Christmas Contest. Along with the ocarina was a catalog of Rotters ocarinas and two sheet music books. Over is a picture of the box and the padded pouch the ocarina came in. It also came with a neck strap. The ocarina has a beautiful blue glaze. It doesn’t have the “silver” band like so many other replicas and the triforce have been replaced by a flower-like symbol. This is something I really like about this ocarina, that it doesn’t strive to be an exact replica of the one in the game but rather has its own style inspired by it.

The ocarina is tuned to alto c and it has the taiwanese fingering system. It has nice ergonomics, the little finger hole on the left hand is a bit larger than I’m used to. But I can easily cover all the holes with my small hands. The mouthpiece is also a bit rounder than I’m used to, not that there is anything bad with that. I really like the tone of it. It has a nice and pure sounds and I really enjoy playing it. I’ll try to upload a video of it soon.

In defense of the plastic ocarina.

Plastic is a material that is often associated with being cheap and poor quality. Which is not a wrong conclusion. Many things that are made of plastic are cheap and of poor quality, but often it does the job nearly as good as it’s higher quality, more expensive counterpart. But in ocarinas the quality of the instrument is in correlation, to the quality of the sound; as is with other instruments. And no-one wants an instrument that sounds bad.

When people are new to the ocarina, some tend to steer away from the plastic because they think it will sound bad and is a poor instrument. This is true for some of the plastic ocarinas. As most of the ocarinas that are made as toys, and sold at dollar-stores and such are made of plastic. Still there are examples of clay ocarinas that are of poor quality too, but these aren’t marketed as toys and therefore not so readily available. So some of the reason behind why people stay away from the plastic, and maybe even why some people have a bad experience with the ocarina is because the ocarinas they’ve come across aren’t really instruments. They’re more of a toy.

Now over to my experience with plastic ocarinas. My first ocarina, was a plastic ocarina. It took some time for me to get a somewhat nice sound out of it, but that was wasn’t the ocarinas fault. I was new to the instrument and new to playing in general. But after some practicing it got better. Now the plastic does have some “issues” compared to a clay equivalent. The main things are condensation which builds up in the wind-way and that the highest notes are a bit harder to reach. But both of these problems can be reduced with time and practice.

The advantages that the plastic hold as a beginners ocarina is that it is cheaper and that it is much more durable. You can drop it on the ground without it breaking, though I wouldn’t recommend making it a habit. Now I’m not familiar with many plastic ocarinas, but I know from my own experience that the Focalink Plastic Alto C and the Night by Noble Plastic Alto C (same as Noble Plastic Alto C only with Taiwanese sub-holes) are great. If you want too see for yourself I’ve uploaded a video with each one on youtube. I’m not the best player, but if you watch some of my other videos you see that they are both comparable to my Focalink Double Alto C. Except for in range of course.

Here’s the videos.

 

Focalink Plastic Alto C
Night by Noble Plastic Alto C
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Christmas is here

Christmas is upon us, and with it comes the christmas songs. This is one that has been on my mind since I watched this preview. And so I wanted to record my own version. Here it is. This is also my first video that is actually a video, and not just the title and the sound. The video and audio were recorded separately so if it’s seems the fingerings are a bit off, that’s why.

For those of you curious of who this guy behind the blog is, now’s your chance to see me for real, we’ll on the computer screen, but anyways. Hope you enjoy my version of “Walking in the air” I’m hoping to record a few more christmas songs. Wether I’ll find the time, only time will show.

Happy holidays.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=THU9stGjQGs

It has arrived : “Leave Luck to Heaven”

The album cover and cd design.

In March this year, David Ramos better known as Docjazz in the ocarina community released his kickstarter to fund his first ocarina album. I’m not usually the person to buy cd’s but this was an exception. Also I wanted a more physical “proof” of my contribution his project. And as a plus I now have David’s autograph  🙂 And sure enough we made it. On April 26 the project reached it’s funding goal and David was all set to start the process. It has resulted in the CD “Leave Luck to Heaven”. And this week it dropped into my mailbox. A little later than some of the other backers since I’m in europe but anyway it’s here. As a backer I also received a downloadable version of the cd before it was released so I’ve had the time to listen to it for a while now, and I have to say there are som beautiful songs on there. I really like the version of “Be thou my vision”. If you haven’t already, you should definitely check it out. It is available on Itunes, Loudr and on David’s website.

Links
Docjazz’ website: http://docjazz4.com/
For a sample of the cd check out this youtube video:

First Impressions: Night by Noble

My Night by Noble recently arrived and I thought I’d take the time to give you my first impressions of it. This is the one I ordered. I’ve been wanting the Noble plastic before, but I prefer Taiwanese sub-holes. So I was pretty excited when i heard they were making the Night by Noble. Still, it took quite some time before I finally ordered one.

The shipping was quite fast. I confirmed the order on Saturday and it arrived the next Thursday. Thats only four work-days. It came in a bag and inside was a cardboard box that was protecting the actual box that contained the ocarina. The box itself had a simple design that I really liked. The logo and type of ocarina on the front and a fingering chart on the back. Inside was the ocarina itself, in bubble wrap and a piece of paper that seems to be some sort of customer club registration form.

At first glance the ocarina seemed smaller than my Focalink plastic, but when comparising the two they are roughly the same size. The Night by Noble does however have a shorter mouthpiece and it is also shorter in general since it does not have a pointy end like the Focalink. The finger holes are placed slightly closer in comparison to the Focalink. I really like the look of the tip, how it seems almost cut-off.

The ocarina has a nice matte finish, except for 1,5 cm in on the mouthpiece. There are some lines on the ocarina that might look like scratches. These come from the casting process and are similar to the ones you can see on the Focalink. It has a hole for a neck-cord but it does not come with one. The matte finish gives a nice grip. It also makes it feel less sweaty when you hold it. That said, the grease stain while gather like moth to a flame. But it’s easy to clean it of with a dry piece of cloth.

As for sound. I feel it has a slightly more distinct sound than the Focalink. Not that the Focalink has bad sound. They both have different qualities. It also has a somewhat higher breath requirement. Not much though. I still haven’t managed to get a clear sound on the top notes. But this is something I struggle with on the Focalink too so it is probably much to do with my technique. Overall it feels very natural in my hands and the finger-hole placement is nice. That being said I do have small hands so it might not fit so good with people that have large hands.

I would certainly recommend this. It’s affordable, has a stylish look, good durability due to plastic construction (Though I haven’t tested it. Why ruin a perfectly good ocarina?), it plays nicely and the ergonomics are good. Some people have reported that scratches are easily visible on the matte finish. I haven’t had it long enough to see any, but best to keep it in a pouch or the like when not in use. I’ll try to upload a recording of it soon.

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Youtube Videos and TON Contest

I now have some videos up on youtube. And more to come i hope. The last one I uploaded was for a contest on TON(The Ocarina Network). The theme for the contest was disney, which meant a wide variety of songs to choose from. And to add to that, Star Wars and Studio Ghibli was accepted as well. You can see the entries to the contest as video replies to this video. For my entry i chose the song “I See the Light” from disney’s Tangled. Here it is.

A little project of mine

It’s been a while since my last post. Guess I’m not that good at blogging. But my posting frequency is not the focus of this post. I want to share something I’ve been working on. It’s a little project of mine, something i recently started tinkering with. It’s called “The Ocarina Map”.

Last Tuesday, while searching the web, I stumbled over Leaflet. It’s a open-source javascript library, that makes it possible for non-web-programmers like me to make a interactive map. And while looking at this I got the idea. “How cool wouldn’t it be to have a interactive ocarina map”. So I downloaded it and started playing around with the code. After short time I had a fully working map. Since then I have tweaked the look of it and added more plugins like minimap and search. Here is a image of the map, as it is right now.
As you can see it’s rather lacking in the marker-division. But i’ll add more. It seems that ocarina as a phenomenon is something that resides mostly in cyberspace. I hope that this map will help bring it more out in the “open”. If I’m able to, I would also like to make it possible for people to add their own markers. As it is now I have to add them manually.
If you want to check the map out, you can do so at http://www.ocarinamap.cu.cc/.
Until next time, which hopefully won’t be as long as last time 🙂

Ocarina Fonts

These days, the collection of tab makers are growing and getting more advanced. But before the era of tab makers the method was manual writing, no I’m not thinking about quills. But computer writing and fonts. Now as I’ve mentioned before I rarely use tabs anymore, but I don’t think I would be able to learn the ocarina without them. I wouldn’t have the patience to both learn the instrument and learn to read sheet music when starting out. So I highly support the use of them. And it’s great for introducing the ocarina to new beginners.

A fun project I wanted to try out was to make my own font. I’ve seen a few before, but I wanted to make my own. So I made up the tabs in Inkscape and found a tutorial to make them into a font file and here are the results. I thought it would be appropriate if the first font was of the 10-hole 🙂

It only consist of the tabs above, but I have ideas about adding other symbols that are relevant in tabbing (input is appreciated). I also plan to expand my collection with time. Feel free to use them for non-commercial projects. Check out the page “Ocarina Fonts” for the download.

Original Melody

X:1
T:Original Melody 1
C:Jonnvoll
L:1/4
M:4/4
I:linebreak $
K:C
|: B, E _G =G | _G E B, B, | A,2 z2 | E _G =G A | G _G _F/_F/D/_G/- | G3 z :|$
G/_G/=G/_G/ E2 | B, C3 | z A/G/ A/G/ _G | G A B2 | $
G/_G/=G/_G/ E2 | B, C3 | C/C/B,/ A,2 z/ | A, B,3 |

Here’s a little tune that I made. It’s my first original melody. I’m still in the process of learning sheet music, so I’m not that good at writing music down. When I first jotted it down on a piece of paper it was a long line of notes without any form of structure like bars or rests, and it consisted of only half and quarter notes.

After I had finished writing down a rough sketch, I opened up Musescore and wrote it in there. This time i tried to make it correct so that it would sound correct when played. It’s easier to find out if I’ve written it correctly when I can listen to it. It still sounds kind of rough, but at least it sounds more like I want it to sound than my sketch would have done.

Here is a quick recording of it.