Ocarinas are popular instruments these days, and much of that can be attributed to the Legend of Zelda series of video games. And while there are dozens of Zelda ocarina replicas, there are many “serious” ocarinas that trade the Zelda motif for better range and playability.
Some of the higher-quality ocarinas available are Mountain Ocarinas. While most of them aren’t pretty, they are cheap, sound good with practice and are extremely sturdy.
How attractive your Mountain ocarina is depends on which model you get. The cheapest, simple polycarbonates at around $20, aren’t much to look at. The instrument body is black with grey lining around the tone holes, mouthpiece and windway. The aluminum instruments are strange, yellow things that look like the musical kin of inflatable rafts, but are still an improvement over the polycarbonate ocarinas.
The hardwood models, around $80, come in various woods and are all remarkable visually. Because the hardwood instruments are essentially polycarbonates with a prettier exterior, most buyers pick the plastic ocarinas.
Two sizes, one in G and the other half an octave lower, are the only ones offered. The larger C instrument takes some practice to sound good, but once the musician has spent some time with it, the tone improves nicely. It can be played very loudly at its proper pitch by using more air, or it can be played relatively softly at a lower pitch. As the website promises, these ocarinas rarely squeak on either high or low notes, a rare quality even in better instruments.
Mountain ocarinas are incredibly durable. While other ocarinas might have better sound, you have to be careful with them: wooden ones warp and crack with extreme temperatures, and clay instruments can shatter from a long fall. The Mountain Ocarinas’ resilience makes them great instruments for kids and situations where a clay ocarina might not survive.
As the maker emphasizes, these ocarinas let you take music just about anywhere. Even the larger C model fits easily in your pocket, and the G ocarina can be worn as a pendant (the C can too, but it looks weird around your neck). Both models come with removable lanyards.
Of course, there’s little point in taking the ocarina with you if you don’t know any music for it. Mountain Ocarinas offers a few tune books, one with over 300 Celtic pieces. Even better, the music is in standard notation, opening these vast collections to other instruments.
Don’t buy a Mountain ocarina if you want a beautiful instrument. Buy one if you want an easy-to-play ocarina that sounds good and will last a lifetime.