Transverse Ocarinas (also called sweet potato ocarina) are possibly the most common of all ocarinas internationally. This unique instrument is thought to be in existence since the 1850’s and is uniquely shaped to fit many different fingering systems. The Donati system is a 10 hole fingering system that is recognised to be the original form of the transverse ocarina and is named after the Italian creator, Giuseppe Donati. In the 1920’s, Takashi Aketagawa developed a 12 hole fingering system which populated a more complex transverse ocarina that includes 2 sub-tonic notes. This improved the scale at which the transverse ocarina could be used as a sub-tonic note is the seventh note of the diatonic scale – ultimately giving the user a more capable transverse ocarina.
The main reason why the transverse ocarina is a popular choice is because it can be easily played. This is due to the well-positioned tone holes that form a linear pattern which helps beginners learn the musical scale easily. Although the Donati and Aketagawa’s fingering system are unique, they can also be customised. These customisations may include less or more holes which makes the transverse ocarina either more simple (for beginners) or complex.
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