An ocarina is an ancient wind instrument, similar to a flute, used by many cultures around the world. While traditional ocarinas used to be made from clay or vegetables, you can make one with just your hands. It's a bit tricky to master an ocarina made with your hands, but once you do, you can progress and play from simple whistles to simple songs and even more.
Method 1 of 2: Whistle with your hands
Step 1. Put your hands in front
Hold them upright, fingers apart and palms facing each other. Your thumbs should also point up. In other words, it must look like you've been praying and then spread your hands a little.
Step 2. Bring your palms together as you turn your left hand
Bring your hands together, as if you were going to clap your hands. As you do so, turn your left hand so that your fingers are pointing forward (instead of up). When your hands touch, the base of the palm of the left hand (the firm part near the wrist) should be against the soft part of the thumb of your right hand.
These guidelines are for right-handed people. If you are left-handed, it may be easier if you exchange the references to the hands in this step, as well as those in the following (for example, for this step, turn your right hand)
Step 3. Wrap your hands around each other
Now, bend your fingers so that each hand is holding the other. The fingers of your right hand should be located in the space between your thumb and index finger of the left hand. The fingers of your left hand should wrap around one side of the little finger (the smallest finger) of the right hand.
Step 4. Line up your thumbs
Without separating your hands, arrange your thumbs so that the inside of both knuckles touch. The thumbnails should be aligned with the index finger of the right hand.
When finished, there should be a thin space a few millimeters wide between your thumbs. This is the mouthpiece; that is, the place where you blow to fill the ocarina with air and also where the sound will come out
Step 5. Place your lips on the knuckles
Open your lips slightly (as if to make a "U" sound). Position your lips so that the small "o" that forms between them is just below your knuckles. In other words, the upper lip should be against the knuckles of your thumbs and the lower lip should be over the top of the opening between your thumbs.
Step 6. Blow
Blow air steadily through the top of the opening between your thumbs. In other words, the idea is that you blow just below the knuckles of your thumbs. If you do it correctly, you will hear a whistle that sounds like a hooting owl or a wooden train whistle.
Don't vocalize to try to make a bird call with your vocal cords (for example, saying "uh" or "ah" while blowing). It blows without making a sound, like when you try to whistle an empty bottle
Step 7. Make a few small adjustments until you can whistle consistently
It can be quite difficult to get your "manual" ocarina to work, especially if you are trying it for the first time. If all you hear is the dry, toneless sound of a draft, you may be making one of the common mistakes listed below:
- You may not be "sealing" your ocarina with enough pressure. Try to accommodate the shape of your hands in order to close the gaps at the edges. You don't have to squeeze; just make sure you don't let the air escape.
- Maybe the nozzle is not the correct shape. Try to bring your thumbs together a bit more so that the hole is narrower.
- You may not be blowing in the right place. Try moving your lips slightly up and down, or enlarge the "o" shape that forms between your lips. Remember, you should blow into the upper half of the opening between your thumbs.
Method 2 of 2: Create Different Shades
Step 1. Try to lift the fingers of your right hand
Letting air out of other holes in addition to the mouthpiece opening will affect the pitch of the hiss. A controlled way to do this is to move the 4 fingers of your right hand up and down, like flutists do. Raise a maximum of 2 fingers at a time; the more shapes the air has to escape, the more difficult it is to get a shade.
Keep in mind that it is difficult to do this without your whistling becoming simply the undesirable sound of a "draft of air." You will need to keep your hands tightly sealed, lift one finger slightly, and provide more support to the note with plenty of air. Learning how to get a different tone can take as long as learning how to whistle
Step 2. Try to change the space between your hands
The tone you hear when you whistle with your ocarina is produced by the vibrations of the air between your hands. If you change the position of your hands, you can create more or less space between them and consequently let in more or less air, which will affect the tone. Just be careful to keep your hands tightly sealed so the air doesn't escape.
- Creating a larger space (spreading your hands slightly apart) will produce a lower tone.
- Creating a smaller space (putting your hands together a little) will produce a higher tone.
Step 3. Try to modify the position of your lips
Changing the way you blow can also affect the pitch of the note that comes out of your ocarina. Try making a smaller “o” with your lips for a higher tone, or a larger “o” for a lower tone.
People who have experience playing harmonica use a technique called "aspirated bending" to change the pitch of the notes. You can achieve a similar effect by placing your tongue at the back of your mouth as you blow to “bend” (bend) the pitch of your note down (ie make it sound lower). This technique takes practice
- Don't be discouraged if you can't do it on the first try. Progress is different for each person. Some take a few minutes to learn; to others, days or weeks.
- Make sure your hands are clean and dry. Moisture can affect the air's ability to reverberate between your hands and produce a tone. It can also affect the seal between your hands.