The Peruvian Ocarina

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Peruvian OcarinaPeruvian ocarinas are pendant style ocarinas with 4 to 10 holes that are made from Peruvian clay. They come in a large variety of hand painted designs unique to each instrument, which makes them very recognizable.

These flutes have played an important role in ocarina history and come from a line of traditional South American instruments. Once upon a time, they may have been used in tribal rituals.


Peruvian Ocarinas – Instruments or Souvenirs?

Peruvian OcarinaWhat you really need to know about these ocarinas is to completely disregard them as musical instruments. Their primary purpose is to serve as novelty items or souvenirs, which are great for collecting due to their beautiful and interesting designs.

In terms of music, Peruvian ocarinas are dysfunctional, as they are never tuned properly and make windy sounds. In fact, their terrible sound quality is legendary among ocarinists.

If you are interested in learning to play the ocarina, please stay away from these. I’ve seen many young people buy a Peruvian as their first ocarina, only to end up being disappointed. Some don’t even realize how bad these ocarinas are and embarrass themselves or become discouraged. You can collect them, but you shouldn’t play them.


A Sound Demonstration

Check out this video to get an impression of the bad sound quality. Notice to how windy these ocarinas are – they don’t produce fully resonating sounds.
So yes, better stay away from Peruvian ocarinas when it comes to music.


My Conclusion

As always, here is my experience in short.

  • Great Designs For Collections
  • Very Affordable
  • Breaks Easily
  • Very Bad Sound Quality
  • Plays Notes That Don’t Exist In Music
  • Discouraging For The Player
  • Small Tonal Range






May the music be with you :)




4 Responses to “The Peruvian Ocarina”

  1. Jose says:

    Hmmm I may have to start collecting these Peruvian ocarinas. They really do look nice (though it would be oh so much better if they were actualy playable)

    • Allen says:

      Indeed, though it takes a lot of work to tune an ocarina, since the whole instrument needs to be made specifically for that purpose. That’s what makes good ocarinas expensive, and the Peruvians so cheap :)

  2. Passerby says:

    “Plays Notes That Don’t Exist In Music”?

    All notes, which are essentially frequencies, can be turn into music if you are good at composing with the tools you have. Although it is a common complain that Peruvian ocarinas don’t usually play in tune according to the commonly used octave scale system, calling sounds “don’t exist in music” is just wrong. Out of tune according to the commonly used scale, perhaps. But it doesn’t mean you can’t play music out of it.

    • Allen says:

      The Peruvian ocarinas don’t actually produce notes, because their sounds are not harmonic. Harmonic waves have a consistent frequency that are multiples of a fundamental frequency. Peruvians don’t do that; their resonance chamber is not good enough, so it sounds windy most of the time.

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