Top 10 Ocarina Facts

Donati Ocarina - Liggins

  • The Italian Ocarina was invented in 1853 by 17-year-old Giuseppe Donati, who also gave it the name ocarina. Donati handmade each ocarina from clay, with anything from 7 to 10 finger-holes and a spout for a mouthpiece.
  • In Italy the Ocarina has been known disparagingly as the ‘Bologna Sausage’ and in the USA, affectionately as the ‘Sweet Potato Pipe’.
  • In 1874, The Mountaineers of the Appenines – an ocarina group from Italy, played to audiences of over 1,000 at London’s Crystal Palace.
    The great-grandson of one of the original ocarina ensemble acted as independent witness for the successful Guinness World Records™ Largest Ocarina Ensemble world record at the Royal Albert Hall on 5th November 2013.
  • The English 4-hole Ocarina was invented in London in 1963 by John Taylor, a 23-year-old drop-out from the Royal Academy of Music.
    His clay pendant ocarinas were essential hippy accessories during the 1960s and 1970s.
  • The word ‘Ocarina’ is popular with crossword- and quiz-compilers because it contains lots of vowels and because most people have heard the word ‘ocarina’ but few know what it means. In Italian, ‘ocarina’ means ‘little goose’.
  • Penderecki, Ligeti and Henze are just three of many modern classical composers who have included Ocarina parts in their orchestral scores.
  • Stars from Bing Crosby to The Troggs have all had hits playing the Ocarina.
    The unique sound of similar vessel flutes has been prized since prehistoric times.
  • Ocarinas also appear on albums by Paul McCartney, Duran Duran, Chris De Burgh and Katie Melua, though none of their ‘Ocarina’ tracks were major hits.
  • Nintendo released The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time in 1998 featuring a boy playing an ocarina.
    The 500,000 pre-orders and 7.6 million copies sold worldwide make this one of the most popular video games ever created.
  • Over 500,000 Ocarina iPhone apps sold in November 2008.
    This top selling app transforms an iPhone into a fully functional English 4-hole ocarina.