Ocarina Naming Convention

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I'd like to explain the ocarina naming convention that I use when referencing my ocarinas.  My goal is to be as consistent as possible with the established Asian naming convention for ocarinas.


So my ocarina naming works like this:  

  • If the tonic pitch, that is the concert pitch that plays when all main holes are covered, is above C5, but below D6, then the ocarina is a "Soprano."  
  • If the tonic pitch is above C4, but below D5, then the ocarina is an "Alto."

To make this even more confusing, remember that ocarinas play one octave higher than notated.  So even though the musical note on the staff is actually a C4, the ocarina is playing a C5.  But we label ocarinas according to how they sound, not how the music for them is notated.

 An ocarina that is C4 would be called a Bass, but I do not make ocarinas that low and have no plans to.  An ocarina above D6 would be called a "Sopranino", but I have no plans to make ocarinas that high either.  

Ocarina naming has always been a controversial subject and there is not really much in the way of International standards for it.  Italian tradition uses one convention, Asian tradition uses another, and various makers and re-sellers all over the world can't seem to settle an any consistent standard.

For example: At least one major re-seller within the US labels any ocarina above C4 and below D5 as Tenor, where as I and most other Asian style makers would label that an Alto.  This has caused more that one buyer to purchase an ocarina labeled as Tenor C thinking they are getting something lower pitched than an alto, only to find it's exactly the same as the Alto C ocarina already in their collection.  This particular re-seller also accepts no returns and offers no refunds, so the buyer is stuck with an ocarina they didn't really intend to purchase.

I try to name and label my ocarinas as clearly as possible by both explaining my naming convention here, and also providing the Western Scientific Pitch Notation (SPN) range on every product listing.