History, Facts and
interesting information about Medieval music,
Description of the Ocarina
Definition and description of the
Ocarina: The Ocarina can be described as an egg-shaped flute-like
woodwind instrument with a mouthpiece and finger holes. The word ocarina
is derived from Italian meaning "little goose." It typically has four to
twelve finger holes and a mouth tube projecting out from the body.
Different notes are produced by covering the holes. Made from a variety
of different materials including wood, ceramic and metal. The earlier
form was known in Europe as a Gemshorn.
Unlike this instrument or a recorder, sound is created by resonance of
the entire cavity. The placement of the holes is therefore largely
It became popular in
Medieval European communities as a toy instrument as it was cheap and
easy to make.
Family of Instruments: The
Ocarina belongs to the family of
Pictures of Ancient and
Medieval Musical Instruments
Medieval Musical instruments, including the Ocarina, would be used by the musicians
of the period including the Waits,
Troubadours. There were three categories of musical instruments in the Middle Ages - wind, string and
percussion. Terms of description were Bas instruments and Haut instruments. Bas
referred to soft instruments (literally, "low," but referring to volume,
not pitch) which were suitable for the chamber which
included the vielle, rebec and other bowed strings, the lute and other
plucked strings. Haut referred to loud instruments
(literally "high" but referring to volume, not to pitch) which were
suitable for outdoors which included the shawm,
sackbut, pipe and tabor. Read the above history, facts and information about the Ocarina.
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