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The Return Of the Ocarina

In a giant step toward the future of plant biology, a Grand View resident has succeeded in growing a simple musical instrument.

The Ocarina is a wind musical instrument shaped somewhat like a sweet potato, typically with four to twelve finger holes and a projecting mouthpiece. It is usually made of ceramic but is also made of plastic, wood, glass, metal, or bone.

The Ocarina owes its current popularity to the video game Nintendo 64: The Legend of Zelda, introduced in 1998. But Ocarinas predate the video game by at least 12,000 years. The Aztecs probably first developed the Ocarina; it became popular in Europe as a four-holed toy instrument.

In the 19th century in a town near Bologna, Italy, Giuseppe Donati transformed the Ocarina from a toy, which played only a few notes, into a more developed instrument with 10 holes. The word Ocarina, in the Bolognese dialect of the Italian language, means little goose. Unlike a flute, its sound is created by resonance of the entire cavity. The placement of the holes is irrelevant; their size is the important factor. The Ocarina is capable of producing complex musical overtones, because of its egg shape.

Due to renewed interest, Dr. Jerold Tasko, of Tyler Street, in Grandview-Under-the-Hill, was invited to teach Ocarina at the Juilliard School of Music in New York City. Unable to find an instrument up to his standards, Dr. Tasko began experiments to grow his own.

On a tiny plot of land overlooking the Hudson, Dr. Tasko crossbred a sweet potato with a walnut. After many attempts at what he describes as “a complicated bit of gene splicing,” he is now successfully growing concert-quality Ocarinas with 12 holes, a mouthpiece and an exterior resembling hard walnut.

If you would like to purchase one or register for a class, call 555 April Fool.