Sunday, 2 March 2014

Pendant VS Transverse - Which is Better?

Here in this article:

Pendant (or English Pendant) - small cross-fingered ocarina, often has 4-6 holes.
Transverse (also Sweet Potato) - larger linear-fingered ocarina, usually with 10-12 holes.

Myth #1. Pendants have poorer sound quality than transverses.

That myth appeared because of those bright and colourful Peruvian "fair trade" ocarinas that many people tend to buy. Those pendants can be nice as souvenirs, but they are very poor quality, absolutely out of tune and totally unplayable as instruments.

There are so many wonderfully made pendants on the market nowadays, so finding the one that will suit you best is not even a problem anymore. Myth busted!

Myth #2. You can play a lot more notes with a 12-hole than a pendant.

Wrong. First of all, there are dozens of tunes that can be played on those little instruments! And secondly, with a proper knowledge and a bit of practice you can extend the range of a 6-hole pendant to make it just one note shy of a twelve hole transverse ocarina! That can be possible by controlling your breath (blowing softer or harder), or using a special fipple bend technique (tilting your ocarina). In fact, there are some pendants available that allow you to extend their range to two octaves! (Think of compact doubles or extended range Tenrai ocarinas)

Myth #3. Pendant ocarinas are limiting.

Are they? Ocarina pendants are much lighter, portable, they can be worn comfortably. You can play in a car, during a break, or while waiting for someone, and practice the fingerings at any time anywhere. Once mastered, wearable ocarinas allow you to play songs much faster than transverse ones, because you have less fingers to move. You can also experience a lot more freedom with pendants, as these are so fun to play! You can even dance while playing without being afraid to drop your precious instrument!

Undoubtedly, portability is where pendant ocarinas really win. You cannot carry your 12-hole with you as easily as pendants. With pendants it is so much easier to do, and so you learn faster. They really keep you motivated, as you wear them around on your neck as a unique jewellery and practice every single moment. It is like a fun little hobby that you can take anywhere!

Myth #4. Transverse fingering system is much easier.

There is no such thing as “Easier” when referring to these two fingering systems. Each ocarina type is different, and the style of playing on these instruments differs completely. Some people instantly fall in love with the transverses, while others keep coming back to their pendants.

Transverse ocarina is certainly a better option for performing musicians and others who work with sheet music often, as the note fingerings are linear and the sound is technically more professional. But a beginner (or a child) without any musical background will most likely use tabs, and won’t even care for notes. A more experienced casual player may also enjoy the portability and beauty of pendants a lot more. So, it really depends on a person.

Myth #5. Pendant fingerings are too hard to memorize!

If you remember the fact that pendant ocarinas are one of the smallest musical instruments in the world, it pretty logical they cannot have the same linear fingering system as transverse ocarinas. Especially considering they have less finger holes than the transverse ones. It is neither good, nor bad, just different. Though pendant fingering pattern may be slightly confusing at first, but with a bit of practice there is nothing you cannot do.

In fact, it is pretty amazing that you can play a full octave with only a 4-hole ocarina! With minimal finger holes, such range sounds just like a small miracle! Now doesn’t that amazing little instrument deserve to be loved and respected too?


There is no “Versus”, as both types are good. Transverse-styled ocarinas will fit high-level musicians or people who find it more natural to learn the linear fingering. And wearable ocarinas are perfect for any casual player who enjoys the freedom and portability of pendants, as well as ready to meet some small but achievable challenges.

And don’t forget! Pendant ocas are cheaper than transverses, so you can have many!!! xD
Besides, they're so FUN to play!


  1. You've done your homework girl! Excellent job!

    I personally love both, even though I use 12 holes more.
    However I, like you, recognize that the English pendant indeed has a proper, professional and respectable place in the music world! ♥

    Awesome! :D

    1. Thank you!! It just makes me sad when people say things without doing their research first! And especially how many beginners miss the opportunity of playing on pendants, simply because transverses are more popular or traditional. There is simply not enough information on pendants, and because of that I myself bought a transverse ocarina as my first one too. I could not even realize there are so many amazing little pendants around! Now I'm their huge fan!


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