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Questions and Ideas from a wannabe Oc Maker; Looking for help from more experienced makers
Topic Started: 2 Dec 2017, 04:25 AM (657 Views)
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Transverse Ocarinist

I do not have direct experience with the method you plan to use, but I will share my experimental results from 5 years of making 12-hole transverse ocarinas.

1. I have used a round voicing hole from the start. Recently, I have found improvements by modifying the round hole to a teardrop shape, as many renowned makers use. The diameter of my voicing hole is very near 3/8" for alto C (C5), though I do not know off the top of my head exactly how big it is.

2. The method of making a cone and half sphere is a tried-and-true method, although I have never used it myself. The reason I do not use it is that I personally prefer the more natural and curving shapes obtained with hand-building and plaster press-molds. The walls of my C5 ocarinas are near 10mm thick, though I do not have the exact measurement in my mind. I could try to measure some details for you as I have begun to take a more scientific approach to my ocarina making recently. I cannot say anything about the ball-to-cone proportion, as I do not build with this method.

3. To determine clay shrinkage and fundamental note, I think experimentation is the best method to find your process. What you need to do is determine what the fundamental note needs to be while wet in order to achieve the correct fundamental note after firing. This note is difficult to change after firing, since you need to add or remove earthware inside the chamber. I do this before firing using small curved blades to carve out clay inside the chamber to set the fundamental pitch. The other notes can (and should be) tuned after firing, but it is much more difficult than learning how to tune before firing in order to minimize the amount of tuning necessary after firing. I have used files to tune after firing, but a rotary grinding tool is much easier on the hands. The tuning MUST start at the fundamental note (all holes closed) and move up the scale or note range, since each note is actually a combination of all holes that are open. When you change the tuning on a lower note, all notes above are affected, since they also will have the lower note hole open in addition to the hole for that note.

4. I am not sure how to figure out the proportion of the voicing size to the chamber size. I did so by referencing the ocarina I purchased, then experimented with my own dimensions until it worked well. I could probably improve this in the future with a more recorded and scientific approach, rather than just the guess-and-check method I used before.

5. The airway should be exactly as wide as the voicing hole at the exit for proper sounding. I have a slight flare out in width towards the mouth hole on the airway, but this flare is very minimal. The height of the airway should be fairly narrow at exit to concentrate the air on the fipple. I use a much more noticeable flare in height at the mouthpiece, with the entrance being noticeably taller than the exit. This helps with clarifying the notes by allowing more airflow to enter and be concentrated or focused at the exit. Avoid any obstructions in the airway near the exit, as they will quickly destroy the tonal clarity. I could give you dimensions on my C5 slot stick, but I would need to measure them tonight, as I do not have them memorized or recorded here yet.

6. Since I use a 12-hole system, the high F hole has never been overly large on my ocarinas, so I have limited advice for a 10-hole Italian system. One note I do have is that holes that would be overly large for the finger can be made elongated in the direction of finger placement to allow for better coverage. Oval shaped holes allow for matching the shape of the finger pad to utilize more surface area of the hole when a round hole would have a diameter too large to cover with the finger pad. To split a hole, just drill 2 holes inline with that finger position and centered on the ideal hole placement. To tune a split hole, tune the accidental (sharp or flat) hole first (this is usually the hole further from the hand), then tune the tone hole. This order needs to be followed, since the note with the split hole is really being played by opening both holes. The split holes are only used to simplify "half-holing" techniques, where you cover a hole only partially to shift to a tone between the tones at fully closed and fully open. This method is much less precise for hitting accidentals than using split holes.

7. Ross of Oberon Ocarinas should be able to help you here. I have no experience with this, as I have always used glazes on my ocarinas.

I hope you find some of this information useful. Feel free to ask me any additional questions. This might be simplified through PM after this long response. Text walls can sometimes derail a topic, which I hope does not happen here.

Do not forget to try to reach out to the better-known makers here, as their greater experience should be even more helpful than my limited experience, especially if they have used similar methods to what you intend.

Hopefully this helps,
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