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Ocarina Terminology; How to designate range?
Topic Started: 24 Jul 2018, 04:39 PM (175 Views)
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Transverse Ocarinist
After sifting through numerous past posts, I am still trying to determine if there is a fairly standard or definitive way of classifying ocarina pitch.

What is most proper when naming an ocarina type? What do I call the scale that plays in the linear fingering without any cross fingering? What should the notes above or below that scale be called?

Most makers label the ocarina with the letter corresponding to the linearly-fingered scale (examples: C, G, Do, Sol). Some also use numbers to correspond to size (C3 for an instrument with linear scale from C5 to C6 in Scientific Pitch Notation), while others use numbers from Scientific Pitch Notation to correspond to pitch range (C5 for an instrument with linear scale from C5 to C6).

From what I have read, it would seem that I should call ocarinas based on Scientific Pitch Notation based on the linearly-fingered scale.
What might commonly be considered an "Alto C" ocarina, I would name a C5 ocarina with linear scale from C5 to C6 and would say it is "in C".

Does this confuse people? Is this still an area of great disagreement in the ocarina community? Is there a reason why Scientific Pitch Notation (which seems to also be the same as International Pitch Notation) is not used more commonly in designating ocarinas?
I find it bothersome that I nearly ordered a "tenor" ocarina from STL intending the range to be C4 to C5, while they use "tenor" to designate a range from C5 to C6 (commonly called "alto" by many other makers).
I am also bothered by the fact that an ocarina with the same range is called C3 by Rotter, Do-3 by Menaglio, 4C by Takashi, AC by Focalink, and C5 or Do-5 based on Scientific Pitch Notation. Oh, how I wish there was a standard...

I understand the concept of the ocarina being a transposing instrument in my head without any difficulty, but have trouble explaining this in simple terms to those with little musical experience.

Thanks for any opinions shared.
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Mark Chan
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Well, some of the naming isn't based on convention. Takashi for example, is based on a sequence. 1C, 2G, 3F, 4C, 5G, 6F, 7C. This is not an industry standard, but Takashi's own naming standard for its products. Kind of like a catalog number. Rotters are also like a catalog number, and not based on scientific pitch.

Unfortunately, there is no ocarina police to enforce a standard naming convention, so makers are free to call it whatever they like.

Most accurate is probably Gosselink's naming standard. Most Alto C's labeled as C5-F6 are actually scientific C6-F7, so Gosselink calls it Soprano Do, while everyone else says Alto C. And what everyone else calls Soprano C, he calls them Sopranino Do.
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That guy

Mark Chan
24 Jul 2018, 08:20 PM
And what everyone else calls Soprano C, he calls them Sopranino Do.
Not quite, he calls them a "Piccolo Do" on his website.

I really think it's just important to be able to translate between the different naming methods, because at this point there is a very low probability of things going towards a single nomenclature system. I think that's unfortunate, but it's one of the things we just learn to deal with in this quirky community. C'est la vie.
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Pendant Ocarinist
I think some naming conventions have a connection to the ocarina septet, as you can see them numbered 1 through 7:

Soprano C (C1 or Do 1)
Soprano G (G2 or Sol 2)
Alto C (C3 or Do 3)
Alto G (G4 or Sol 4)
Bass C (C5 or Do 5)
Bass G (G6 or Sol 6)
Contrabass (C7 or Do 7)
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Transverse Ocarinist
Thanks for the responses.
I realize there will not be a shift with all makers standardizing, so my intent with the question is to determine how I should label my own ocarinas to make sense with the way I think while not causing confusion with established methods.

@Mark Chan: The confusion with Alto/Soprano/Sopranino/Tenor etc. is the reason why I do not want to use those designations. In vocal music terms, Soprano and Alto are generally not an octave apart, so it makes less sense for ocarinas that are an octave apart.

I am confused when you said that most "Alto" ocarinas labelled from C5-F6 actually play at C6-F7. Is the range of an "Alto" ocarina one octave above middle C on the piano or two octaves above? I was under the impression that "Alto C" ocarina's linear scale started one octave above middle C, which would correspond to C5-F6 in Scientific Pitch Notation?

@Tentenguy: Translating systems is certainly most important. The struggle I have is in wanting to base my naming convention on Scientific Pitch Notation, but this is not one of the common conventions, and therefore would require another "language" in the translation system. What I am trying to determine is if I should stamp my ocarinas with just the letter, so "C" for an ocarina in C, or if I should also include a designation for pitch range, so "C5" for an ocarina with linearly-fingered scale starting on C5 SPN.

@Acorns: I understood that the numbers used were based on a convention, but it never dawned on me that it is based on the ocarina septet. This information makes me more inclined to use this method rather than a less common method, though it makes me wonder how to label ocarinas pitched other than in C or G?

Sorry if I am being too precise with all this. As an engineer, I may think too much about the reasons behind all this. It seems that it would not be too confusing to either use the septet method or the method based on SPN. I may just stamp the letter, though, as any ocarinist with much experience will know the pitch range just from seeing the size.
Edited by Soren, 25 Jul 2018, 03:10 PM.
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Pendant Ocarinist
I have been wondering about this too, as far as what ranges are covered by soprano, alto, tenor, bass, etc. Is everything above alto C soprano? If you go up a half step and had a C# ocarina is it still alto, or soprano?

If you are making your own to sell maybe the answer is to stamp the letter, and in the description provide the range (noting the system you are using, SPN or not) as well as a sound sample. I think that would clear any confusion.
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