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Italian vs. Asian Fingering; Reasons behind the variations
Topic Started: 24 Jul 2018, 05:08 PM (126 Views)
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Transverse Ocarinist
What are your opinions on the difference between Italian and Asian fingering?

There is an element of history here, as Donati ocarinas used the Italian method. This could be a hindrance to some towards the Asian method, as it is not true to the original. Some may think that the history should not limit changes, though, if there is good reason for them that would improve play-ability (I am not stating that the Asian method is factually an improvement, just obviously the opinion of some, or the method would probably not exist). If innovation is completely stifled, improvements are not possible. If history is completely disregarded, a cultural element is lost.

I have tried ocarinas with either variation on the use of the pinkie and right thumb holes. My first ocarina used the Asian style, with the right thumb being lifted before the pinkie in order to play E6 then F6 on my ocarina in C with linear scale from C5 to C6 in Scientific Pitch Notation (SPN). This is the type I have practiced the most.
Recently, I acquired a Rotter Galliani C3 ocarina with Italian fingering, where the pinkie is lifted to play E6 SPN, and the right thumb is lifted to play F6 SPN. I find this initially quite cumbersome, but that is expected with my limited experience with this method, as well as my familiarity of the opposing method.

Do many play either type interchangeably? Are there noted advantages and disadvantages to the different methods, or is it merely a matter of personal preference (which can be strongly influenced by one's first ocarina)?

Some differences I note are that the hole size compared to the finger size makes more sense with the Asian method, since the thumb pad is larger than the pinkie pad. I also find it more challenging to move the pinkie off while placing my left thumb on the cappello in order to play in progression. By moving left thumb, then right thumb, then pinkie to move up in tonal progression, there is a slight delay for the left hand between thumb and pinkie while the right thumb is moving, which seems to make it easier to shift fluently. This may be due to my inexperience, though.

I will have to continue to practice the Italian method to truly evaluate my own opinion on which method I prefer, but I am also interested in the opinions of others.

Sorry if this has been discussed before. I tried to search the forums, but did not find a topic addressing this question directly.

Thanks for any input!
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Mark Chan
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I actually enjoy them both, but in order for either fingering to work, the body shape and weight distribution is important. If the ocarina was designed with Italian fingering from the start, simply swapping the holes isn't going to automatically make it better if you prefer Asian fingering.

I have a Menaglio Budrio ocarina with Asian fingering, but it feels off because of the shape and distribution of weight. I also have a Colombo ocarina with Italian fingering, which feels oh-so-right because it was designed with it in mind from the start.

Same also applies for Asian ocarinas swapped with Italian fingering. I don't think Zin's ocarinas will work well with Italian fingering just based how the weight is distributed.

It certainly is a preference, but the design of the ocarina is more important when choosing what you want. Make sure to hold it and play it to see if it feels natural. Some body shapes can also work for both, making the fingering interchangeable.
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