What Is It? May 2020

   Yes, they are ocarinas. These pictured include a bass (top), a tenor (right), a red alto and a soprano. The rare bass, probably Russian-made, is valuable.
   Ceramic ocarinas have been around more than 12,000 years. Ancient examples have ben cited – small whistles shaped like birds or other animals and made of terracotta were in India for 6,000 years. China has a very long history of music—songs and dance had already appeared as early as five thousand years ago. Europeans and native American makers of the ocarina existed for hundreds of years. Native Americans of North and South America often used the instrument as they danced.
   Ocarinas remained a popular toy for more than 340 years until 1878 when 17 year old musician-baker Guiseppe Donati of Budrio, Italy, transformed them from a toy which only played a few notes, into a real instrument which could play more than an octave accurately. Ocarinas were made of plastic for kids in the ‘40s and ‘50s. Schools sometimes had ocarina “bands” to teach a few basic skills to younger children.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *