Episode #2252

What is an Ocarina?

« previous episode | next episode »

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Hear flutes of all shapes and sizes on this installment of New Sounds, including recorders, pan pipes, and ocarinas. What is an ocarina, you ask? Not just a way to save Princess Zelda from the evil Ganondorf in the video game, ocarinas, or vessel flutes, are instruments that have been around since the Stone Age. Whether ceramic, wooden, plastic (bone, antler, seed pod, seaweed, jade, quartz, or metal), many are made in the shape of small animals, some are anthropomorphic, some look like “sweet potatos”. The late Lou Harrison in his Canticle #3, calls for the ocarina as solo instrument to trade melodies with the ensemble while a guitar is strummed. Hear that work along with the sounds of Native American player R. Carlos Nakai’s wooden flute and the Andean contemporary native instrument orchestra Arawi on this New Sounds program.

PROGRAM # 2252, Music for American Flutes (First aired Mon. 2/23/04)





Thomas J. Bellino

Star Gods of the Ancient Americas

Part 1, excerpt [4:30]

No longer available, but info about the composer at:

Lou Harrison

Drums Along the Pacific

Canticle #3 [14:30]

New Albion #122**.*

John Luther Adams


Wood Thrush [5:30]

Opus One #66 (LP); LP perhaps available at, another recording of the piece is on Centaur #2273, available at

R. Carlos Nakai

Sundance Season

Evensong [5:00]

Celestial Harmonies #13024***

Various Artists: The Complete 10-inch series from Cold Blue

Barney Childs: Clay Music, excerpt [5:00]

Cold Blue 3 CD set #0014*

Una Romas

The Wooden Bridge - Una Ramos

Petit Flocon de Neige [2:30]

Chant du Monde #274842. Available through Harmonia Mundi


The Doctrine of Cycles

Imaraycu (Why) [2:30]

New Albion #029*

John Luther Adams


Mourning Dove [2:30]

See above.

*, ** Find the recordings you've heard - go to the New Sounds Recordings Information page

News, weather, Radiolab, Brian Lehrer and more.
Get the best of WNYC in your inbox, every morning.

Leave a Comment

Register for your own account so you can vote on comments, save your favorites, and more. Learn more.
Please stay on topic, be civil, and be brief.
Email addresses are never displayed, but they are required to confirm your comments. Names are displayed with all comments. We reserve the right to edit any comments posted on this site. Please read the Comment Guidelines before posting. By leaving a comment, you agree to New York Public Radio's Privacy Policy and Terms Of Use.