The ocarina belongs to a very old family of instruments, believed to date back over 12,000 years. Ocarina-type instruments have been born and played an important role in long history of song and dance in Chinese, Mesoamerican and other countries’ cultures.
In 1998, the ocarina featured in the Nintendo 64 video game The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, attracting a marked increase in interest and a dramatic rise in sales. It also featured later in other games in the The Legend of Zelda series
There are many different styles of ocarinas varying in shape and the number of holes:
Transverse style ocarinas: This is the best known style of ocarina. It has a rounded shape and is held with two hands horizontally. The most common transverse ocarinas are 10-hole and 12-hole.
Pendants style ocarinas: Divided in English Pendant and Peruvian Pendant. English Pendant ones are very small and portable, and use an English fingering system (4–6 holes). Peruvian Pendant ones, which have are 8–9 holes with designs of animals, are used for festivals, rituals and ceremonies.
Inline – These are often called a “fusion” of the pendant and transverse ocarinas. This style is known for being very small and compact, with more holes than the pendant. This allows one to ascend in pitch with the linear finger pattern rather than finger combinations.
Learn & Play
If you are a beginner of playing ocarina, a six-hole ocarina will be the best style to learn on, as it is generally inexpensive, light, and easily produce a wide range of notes with very few finger patterns.
When you get a six-hole ocarina, you can check if it comes with an instrument chart or other instructions on how to play the instrument or not. If it did, then study the chart to see which holes you have to cover to produce a specific note.
If you have learned the 6-hole ocarina and can play some song, you can try to learn about the 12-hole ocarina.
After learning, you will find that the melodious tone from this small ocarina which you play. That must be one of the greatest feelings. Play it, and enjoy it!