Catalog / Care and Feeding / Playing the Ocarina

Voices Ancient and Modern

The ocarina is a very ancient musical instrument whose subtle and expressive voice has caught the ear of people in all parts of the world from prehistory to the present. Early examples from Eastern Europe have been dated to 20,000 B.C. Ocarinas were also known in the Far East and in the Americas, where they were used for religious music, healing, and for entertainment from an early date. Ocarinas have been crafted from mammoth ivory, bone, wood and, most often, clay.
Each of our ocarinas begins as a ball of clay, carefully pulled and pinched into the form of an egg, then individually tuned and decorated by hand while still “green” and soft. This pinching technique produces a denser, more durable product than other types of ceramic ware. Our special firing technique combines the hardness of kiln firing with the appearance of traditional pit-fired ware. After firing, each piece is fine-tuned to give it a clear, sweet voice.
Each ocarina is unique in voice and appearance, and equally capable of simple airs, intricate jigs, or free-form meditations in sound. Our multi-chambered models (pocket pipes) are a Roachworks exclusive, featuring one or more drone chambers to complement the melody. Inspired by the sound of the dulcimer and bagpipes, these unique pipes add new dimensions for the Celtic and traditional musician, while providing the beginner with a full and satistfying sound from the start.
Logic, intuition, and more than a little magic have led us to the creation of an instrument that is both practical and pleasing. For more than a decade, we have experimented with modal tunings and harmonies to develop an instrument that is playable for a wide range of musical styles.