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The Soprano Ocarina

The soprano ocarina is a small, high-pitched instrument that isn’t quite as widely used as the alto and tenor varieties. However, it does have a very bright, piercing tone, and can be used for both solo and ensemble playing.

As with other ocarina types, the precise range of soprano ocarinas will vary, and depends on the manufacturer and the key in which the instrument is pitched. Many soprano ocarinas have a range from about C6 to F7, but bear in mind that this is a rough guide.

Single soprano ocarinas have a range from 1 to nearly 1.5 octaves, which means they can play most folk tunes and popular melodies. For a larger range, you could get a double soprano ocarina – these can normally play two octaves, or in some cases, harmonies.

Types of Soprano Ocarina

Transverse (Sweet Potato) Soprano Ocarinas

Transverse ocarinas are also known as ‘sweet potato’ ocarinas, and are the type that most people are familiar with. Sweet potato soprano ocarinas point to the side, like a flute, and they have rows of finger holes for each hand, with the exact number of holes varying with different instruments (10 and 12 hole ocarinas are common – the Focalink ocarina in the picture below has 12 holes).

Focalink soprano ocarina, from Amazon.com

Focalink Soprano Ocarina, available
from Amazon

These ocarinas are sometimes called Zelda ocarinas, as they’re the same shape as those in the popular Nintendo game The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time.

Pendant Soprano Ocarinas

You can also get English pendant soprano ocarinas, which generally have a more rounded shape. These are played in a vertical position, like a clarinet – although unlike with a clarinet, the hands are held opposite each other. Soprano pendant ocarinas have fewer holes (usually four finger holes and often one or two thumb holes), which means that a more complex fingering system is used than with 12 hole ocarinas. English pendant soprano ocarinas are often pitched in the key of G, as in this version from John Langley.

‘Hybrid’ Inline Soprano Ocarinas

Soprano ocarinas are also available that that are held in the same vertical position as pendant ocarinas, but instead of using cross-fingering, they have a linear fingering system, similar to that of many transverse ocarinas. This makes them both comfortable to hold for long periods and relatively easy to play. Nice examples of this type are the wooden soprano ocarinas from Hind.

Buying A Soprano Ocarina

You can buy soprano ocarinas online, as well as in a few music stores, markets etc. You’ll find the best range and prices on the internet however – read more about where to buy ocarinas. Don’t forget to look on sites like Amazon and eBay as well, as these often sell ocarinas from quality manufacturers at bargain prices. Just be sure that the ocarina you buy has been designed as a musical instrument (and not just a novelty ornament), and that it will play in tune.

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