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Ocarina material and its effect on the sound
Topic Started: 9 Feb 2017, 11:20 PM (540 Views)
yordan
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total amateur
On several places I have read, that the sound of the ocarina is generated by the vibration of the closed air without influence of the build material. The different ocarinas sound differently because of the different geometry. Reading the explanation of that it all sounds logical, but while playing I feel the instrument vibrating in my hands and somehow on a "intuition" level om my mind, I am not convinced that just the geometry plays a role. Are there ocarina models which have the same geometry, but are done of different materials - Focalink clay vs plastic, mountain etc? Can anyone confirm that same geometry ocarinas sounds the same even done with different materials?
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Achint
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Fat Mouse >^_^<

No two ocarinas will sound 100% identical. It's not so much only the geometry that plays a part in the sound of the ocarina but rather the biggest part is played by the labium. The labium, to clarify, is the "sound hole" at the bottom of the ocarina (sometimes the top) and is usually teardrop, circular, oval or square shaped. The different shapes have very distinct sounds. If you compare a Gosselink to a Terry Riley you will find that they have quite a similar "reedy" tone whereas a teardrop shaped labium will produce a slightly purer tone.

So why would no two ocarinas sound identical? Because most ocarinas are hand made and therefore the labium will never be the same on two ocarinas although they will be very close, almost identical but not quite.

Material doesn't have much to do with tonality. It's why several years ago when STL released their "Purple Clay" model and said the tone would get better over age because of the material it was quite an absurd claim and spurred much debate.
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Kitten Forest
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Double Ocarinist
I think why it seems like different materials sound different is because they are made differently. A wooden ocarina can not be made using the same methods as clay for pretty obvious reasons, and that can affect the sound. I have many different alto C ocarinas in plastic and clay, and other than the plastic having more condensation happen, the sound is pretty similar when the shape is similar. My Focalink plastic vs AC Allegro from Songbird have a very similar sound, where even the Focalink plastic compared to Songbird's plastic Ocarina of Time are very different.
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Jubal
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Tree Hugger - Food is your right

They did a blind test for different musical instruments of different materials and found that sound wasn't distinguishable. Like mentioned above, it is all to do with how the instrument is made, not what it is made out of. Any insistence otherwise from a seller is marketing.
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LillyDragon
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*sips tea*
(This is a question that's been rolling around in my mind as well. As a lurker, I also appreciate the answers here from all of you. Knowing why and how things work matters a lot to me.)

I wondered if there was a legitimate difference in the way plastic generates sound versus clay, because my clay Alto seedpod by Songbird, while having exactly the same notes as my Focalink plastic Alto, sounds quite different. However, personal experience is not always evidence, so I try to keep an open mind. Now that I think about it, their labiums and ramps have some noticeable differences between them, despite the voicing of both being tear-shaped.

EDIT: Oops I forgot how much I shortened that one Amazon review before submission. No mention of plastic vs ceramic was left on it, phew.
Edited by LillyDragon, 10 Feb 2017, 07:29 PM.
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tytoalba
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Inline Ocarinist x 2

As already mentioned, the ocarina produces sound through air pulses, sent into the chamber from voicing group, which takes on the character of the timbre. Shallow other influence is given by the degree of internal finish: the presence of sand in more or less large grains. Everything else is pure fantasy.
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Zero Tolerance
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Tamer of beasts, Anything on Ocarina-ist and TON Secret Santa Organizer!
I always wonder about that. Thanks for setting the record straight all.

I'm so glad I stick around here. :)
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Achint
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Fat Mouse >^_^<

LillyDragon
10 Feb 2017, 07:25 PM
I wondered if there was a legitimate difference in the way plastic generates sound versus clay.
When you say "how does my instrument produce sound", it's not the same as saying "Why is the sound produced by this instrument different from the other."

The best comparison I can give is guitars.

Acoustic guitars produce sound by means of resonance. The body of the guitar vibrates, the guitar vibrations are amplified in the sound hole and we get a guitar sound.
But in the case of acoustic guitars woods actually matter. The different types of woods and the way they are treated (solid woods vs. laminate woods) contribute to the sound since the actual guitar resonating itself matters.

However, in electric guitars that is not the case. In electric guitars, the magnetic pickups detect vibrations and the amplifier amplifies said vibrations. Material stops mattering here. Case in point: An electric guitar with a cinderblock body.
So in the case of electric guitars the way they produce sound is the same across the board, but by changing pickups we can change the sound we get owing to the various electronics inside.

Relating back to ocarinas, the construction of the windway and labium are the pickups, but the method of generating sound, is the same across the board.
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LillyDragon
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*sips tea*
The cinderblock guitar was one of the first things I found when I looked for a "brick ocarina". (Which I'd have to make myself, since they don't exist yet. >:3 ) That's an excellent example to drive your point home; thanks for the elaboration.

Conveniently, the acoustic guitar is the first string instrument I want to learn when I can shop for one, so that's handy know as well. It seems like guitars and ocarinas go hand-in-hand together in music.
Edited by LillyDragon, 12 Feb 2017, 08:19 PM.
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Bobbie
ocarinas & etc
Thanks for this useful discussion.

I am looking to buy my first modern sweet-potato-style ocarina. My main goal is to find the instrument with the best sound.

From this discussion, I conclude I don't really have to pursue a clay model to get the best sound. I can instead buy a highly-rated plastic alto such as a Focalink or Noble Night and get the best sound. Anyone disagree?
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tytoalba
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Inline Ocarinist x 2

As said, a small influence on the timbre can give different air friction on the inner walls. Especially in the clay ocarinas that are designed to obtain an Italian sound. Certainly between the plastic and the clay, the main difference is the absorption rate of saliva ..
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Jubal
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Tree Hugger - Food is your right

Bobbie
13 Feb 2017, 08:01 AM
Thanks for this useful discussion.

I am looking to buy my first modern sweet-potato-style ocarina. My main goal is to find the instrument with the best sound.

From this discussion, I conclude I don't really have to pursue a clay model to get the best sound. I can instead buy a highly-rated plastic alto such as a Focalink or Noble Night and get the best sound. Anyone disagree?
There is no "best sound" for ocarinas, only different sounds. If the Night by Noble has exactly the sound you're looking for then yes, that's the best sound you can get. Like mentioned earlier in this thread, sound is mostly determined by how the ocarina is made. A clay Menaglio will have a much different sound than a clay Focalink, but if a Menaglio has the sound you want, then you get a Menaglio regardless of the material it is made out of.

Menaglio, Pacchioni, Rotter, Noble, Healing, Aketa. These are all clay ocarinas and they all sound vastly different from eachother. Same with major plastic and wood ocarina brands.

EDIT: tytoalba makes his ocarinas from clay and he can make you just about any sound you are looking for!
Edited by Jubal, 13 Feb 2017, 04:37 PM.
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LillyDragon
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*sips tea*
'Bobbie'
 
From this discussion, I conclude I don't really have to pursue a clay model to get the best sound. I can instead buy a highly-rated plastic alto such as a Focalink or Noble Night and get the best sound. Anyone disagree?


I can vouch for Focalink's work. My alto by them has taken drops on gravel roads, grass, bumps against door frames, metal street signs, and even a strange night involving toothpaste and tweezers. As I said on my Amazon review for the ocarina, I wouldn't hammer nails with it, but this is the best durability I could expect out of it. It's still in tune, too.

Both their plastic soprano and altos are nice to play. Mr. Satoshi Osawa has done performances with the Osawa ocarinas that Focalink also sells. (They're available on Amazon at the moment. Functionally the same as the other sweet potato model, just a lot prettier, iirc.) It's quite amazing to listen to, and it really makes the case for plastic ocarinas.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BCPljhgB8os

So I agree with Jubal that it's about what you want from an ocarina. Research audio samples and follow your heart, etc. That's almost what I did with my seedpod by Focalink; loved the demo videos enough that I ordered one not too long after watching. I still love its sound too.
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yordan
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total amateur
Thank you all for the opinions and the information. They are definitely a big value!

Maybe a little offtopic, but I just couldn't help not to comment: the electric guitar, being my main instrument, is really more than just a pickup. You can put a BBPro humbucker on a Strat and it will still sound vastly different than a Gibson LP with the same pickup. Using mahagony and maple is not Gibson marketing hype, the pickup picks the tone from the string - true, but that string vibrates with the body and the neck together and defines the color, warmth, sustain... still far less influence than on acoustic guitar, but material and construction of an electric guitar matters.
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Achint
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Fat Mouse >^_^<

@offtopic


Edited by Achint, 14 Feb 2017, 12:19 PM.
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yordan
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total amateur
Spoiler: click to toggle
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ubizmo


In most wind instruments the material can make some audible difference, although that difference may not matter to everyone. For example, a tin whistle made of any metal typically has thin walls, which allows the metal to "ring" a bit as the sound waves strike it. A wooden or plastic whistle will have a slightly "darker" tone. You can hear the same thing if you look at some videos of the pTrumpet. It sounds quite good in the hands of a good player but not as bright as a brass trumpet. Ditto for plastic versus brass sax. But in some situations that difference may be too subtle to be heard, and the plastic may offer other advantages, such as being better for outdoor play, etc.

As instruments go, the ocarina has relatively thick walls, regardless of the material, with the exception of some of the old metal ones. The ocarina body isn't going to do much, if any, ringing. So the only other contribution the material can make is the microgeometry, or texture. The texture's effect on the sound is most noticeable in the windway because it can create slight turbulence in the air stream before it gets to the labium. I guess the texture of the chamber walls can also make some difference but I think it must be very very subtle indeed.
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Zephyria
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devourer of sushi
This thread reminds me of the guy on youtube who makes ocarinas out of vegetables. BIG BROCCOLI OCARINA. Go look it up...well worth it.
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jordan.1210
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Transverse Ocarinist x 2
I've seen a few carrot ocs
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