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A series of correspondences on the way to the truth about the four-hole "English System"

Important up-date November 2, 2004

April 3, 1998
To:  Barry Jennings, England 
I just visited your site.  It is wonderful.  We, too, are ocarina makers, although nowadays we use the"inferior mold method" referred to on your pages (hahahaahaha).  We hand-built many ocarinas prior to developing the molds we use. Aside for teaching thousands of children and many "grown-ups" the craft, we have sold our wares at the Pike Place Market in Seattle for nearly twenty years.  My first teacher was Alan Albright, a wooden ocarina maker who made the ocarinas that Nancy Rumble uses performing and recording with Eric Tingstad.  Theirs is world class  music, with oboe and guitar.  My second teacher was Brian Ransom, who used to teach ceramic musical instrument building at Portland Oregon's School of Arts and Crafts. Third was F. Carlton Ball, a wonderful potter.  I have had many Teachers since then and today YOU are the latest.  Alan Albright taught me years ago that ours is a special calling and that imparting the knowledge of it is like a snowball going down hill...the more it gathers the bigger it gets.  I want to thank you for what I learned at your web site.  The "Ocarina Legend" is something I never heard in 24 years of research.  Actually more because with my husband and my studying together we have a combined 40 years of collecting wind instruments and making and researching.

We are getting old now.  Grandparents, etc.  The molds have saved my wrists from carpal tunnel syndrome, and make the hand built pieces even more special.

We use the 4-hole system, thanks so much.

Good Bless you and keep up the "Good Work"


April 4, 1998
Dear Fellow Om's Sandi and Richard,

I am impressed with your web site, and will include a link on my pages. Thank you for you compliments and good wishes. I knew there were some producers in Seattle and a customer may have shown me one of your Fish Whistles some years ago.  I  should mention that early next year Master classes are planned in Thailand at Chiang Mai and with a link to the cultural program of The British Council, some other venues in Thailand.  The cost for foreign students will be $950 for two weeks including accommodation and food basic. Also firing of their products .The course is planned to be suitable for Beginners, Craft Teachers and Educators, also Makers who wish to improve and possibly become Wind Jewel Associates licensed to use our systems and Music.  Discounts are available for groups and for early bookings (Before September). The classes will be during February and March 1999. A deposit of $200 dollars constitutes an early booking and the Balance of $600 may be paid at the start of the course-$150 discount. I plan to circulate  the above info by e-mail and if you have time, I will be grateful for any suggestions/Links you can advise me of.

Best Wishes,


April 6, 1998
Hey Baz,

Do you know a man by the name Alan Albright or for that matter, John Taylor?  Years ago,  Alan mentioned knowing or knowing of him.  Do you know this man actually, John Taylor, or work with him.  It is interesting what you say, "originated by John Taylor and developed differently by Barry Jennings and John Taylor".  Maybe we can help each other fill in some missing blanks, or you sure could help me.  If you do know John Taylor, does he remember Alan Albright, he made wooden Ocarinas. We would love to find Alan; last we heard, he had moved to France with his painter wife.

Thanks...Hey, wasn't it the middle of the night last you wrote, as it is for me now, and good morning.


April 6, 1998
Dear Richard,

I am endeavoring to get it all up - Check under Misc. in the Menu and click on ocarina originators. John Taylor is my old friend, and we still work together.


April 6, 1998
Dear Barry,

You are so kind to communicate with me.  Did you get a chance to ask John Barry (note: I meant Taylor, see below) if he remembers Alan Albright? And perchance, does he know his where abouts? I use a six-hole system for larger vessels that just won't take four holes (they would become too large for the fingers) by using the smallest of the four hole system for do-re, then the second hole size the same as on the four hole, then four more holes the same size as that.  A teacher of mine, Susan Rawcliffe, calls it 'penny whistle' style.  Adding a semi-tone hole on the smallest works well, but I think detracts from the elegant simplicity of it all.  That is what is so wonderful about your four-hole system we "emulate",  its elegant simplicity...have you heard of the AA acronym KISS - Keep It Simple, Son?

The History here is all very interesting to us and I beg your patience with my questions.



April 7, 1998

Dear Richard &  Sandy,

The Name is John Taylor.  Susan Rawcliffe was my first student in 1969 & I would like to say Hi to her, but I don't know where she is-Do you?  The double ocarina was invented in the last century-and John T and myself have been making them since the 60s. We don't Know John Barry or Alan Albright but later, I'll upload a more detailed history of the 4-hole and cite a lot of names.

All the best,


p.s. JT is here with me right now (en route to Sardegna)

April 7, 1998

Dear Baz and John,

The Name is John TAYLOR ...oops, I knew that, it was a typo or I mixed up your first with JT's last name, or am just mixed up (see below), I did read the info, nay, I am sponging this up.  You see, this communication is, at long last, answering questions we've had for years.  Pedigree isn't so important in the long run, of course, only making beautiful work for the world, but it is curious.  I don't know where Susan Rawcliffe is either, probably California.  She is on the internet, you know. I guess we all are the "hippy whistle makers" in the West referenced on the Ocarina Poster.

John BARRY is an Ocarina maker in New York. (Now in New Mexico)

We met a nice man this last week at Pike Place who is the soprano Ocarina player for the Official Budrio Ocarina Ensemble, what a small world....we sent a piece to be included in The Budrio Ocarina Museum, are we famous, yet?

Please write soon, you two sound like such fun chaps...where is  (en route to Sardegna) ??

Your fellow OM's across the water,

Richard and Sandi 

April 7, 1998

Dear Sandi and Richard,

Thanks so much for Susan's web-site URL-I sent her an Email immediately-I bet nobody has called her ***** for a long time.........

Isn't the internet a wonderful thing too! I hadn't news of her since 1970.

I can just see my grayed-out ocarina in the background of the poster, but there wasn't room to mention me (he didn't mention JT either).

John has produced another unique featured ocarina, this one with a chambered windway!  There seems to be no end to his genius.  John is the thinking musician's 'Mr. Natural" and I can hardly wait to do the web-site info in detail about him.  Hand carved pear-wood spectacle frames, makes all his own clothes, including shoes, and hat.  Vegan.  Instrument builder par excellence. From harspichord to shakuhatchi -lyras, ouds, dozens of different instruments (on the top of the list to repair the V&A's antiques when they can budget for it).  And he's trained himself to play organ pieces on the harpsichord using the toes of his left foot for the organ pedal parts!  And he can now use his middle toe independently!  And he is an ethno-musicologist who plays them all, making his own improvements to the design of such ancient instruments as the Persian Ney.  He is not only the Master in clay, but with wood, strings, everything.  But he's hopeless at selling or marketing and seems to prefer to do everything the hard way.  And he has a marvellous subtle sense of humour.

I'm very happy to have met you guys, and I will turn up at the Pike Market one day.

Best wishes Baz

April 7, 1998

Dear Baz,

The person who called the six-hole system I referred to as "penny whistle" style is named SHARON ROWELL, not Susan Rawcliffe.  Part of the reason for my confusion (and there is a more than ample list for my confusion) is that both these women were participants in a group show Sandi and I hosted in 1987 at the Clay Occasion Gallery in Seattle.  It was called 'Ceramics/Sound - "From Mud To Music" - A National Survey of Hand-Crafted Clay Musical Instruments'.  We had 27 participants plus a couple of pieces from Latvia and Norway.  We tried to find you and John vain, because we were not sure of the last name and were looking for the wrong John, when who we wanted to talk to was you, as it is turning out. John Barry is a maker we know in New York.  He sent some great pieces to the show, including one 'backward' tuned teapot shaped Oc.

About Sharon Rowell:  She is a most delightful individual who makes some of the finest Ocarinas we've ever seen.  Singles, doubles, trips five-chambered, concert tuned piece she brought to the opening ceremony of "Mud To Music" and performed a five-part Bach Cantata.  This is in the video and audio archives here.  It was an astounding performance.  Anyway, she taught me the "penny whistle" system.

Susan Rawcliffe sent some great pieces to the show, as well.  She did not attend, but loaned me a tape cassette of some work she had done.  I mention this because I never returned the tape.  I am a wanker at times.  Did you see her site?  What ever push you gave her with your teaching has brought some great beauty to the world, she is a master.

Another "hippy whistle maker on the West Coast",


April 9, 1998
Dear Baz,

Can you tell me more history, four-hole system facts?  I hope I haven't been too much of a pest.

My Best,


April 9, 1998
Dear Sandi and Richard,

There are short cv  of JT & BJ under the sub-menu of "Misc" entitled
Ocarina Originators.I cant think of anything to say.-You got the E-mail
about JTs left foot?

Its like a holopolymorph of everything really.  JT has made the most varied ocarinas of anyone I know, from difficult animal shapes to every aspect of acoustic research.  He has even made a collection of one-note ocarinas suspended and fixed with beeswax into holes drilled through a wooden board in a triangular repeated pattern: it was played by blowing down a plastic tube attached to the small end of a small plastic funnel  which was slid over the holes to play different pitched notes. He called it a "Pandemonium".  The first 4-hole western scale ocarina I saw was a pendant with a face painted on it in decorative style-JT was wearing it and showed it to me in Gloucester Crescent Camden Town in 1964.  JT Made another Veena of cigar-box wood in the early days-excellent tone.  It will be mind-blowing when we can load up a a new set of photos of stuff-at the moment they are mostly too small and dark on PCs-because I'm using Mac.  Richard and Sandi, if you have any specific questions, I'll be happy to answer them.  My over all technique will be to make links to all the names on the "Credits Thanks Links " page,-whew!

Right now I have to get my contacts in Thailand to get students to ask for me as there is getting to be a nice cozy space where I could lodge higher production and I need to delegate!



April 9, 1998
Hey Bazza,

How did you get these names?  We assume your parents named you Barry, but what about Baz, and now your last post is signed Bazza.

We are convinced you two, John TAYLOR and Barry Jennings, are Ocarina Gods of some sort and have today respectfully given your Web Site major linkages at and at -- the "What's An Ocarina?"  page is alot of fun, I think.  I changed the .gif to reflect you and quoted your posts and pages to create a link there, too.  I hope you like it.

The Four-Hole Western Scale "English System" has been the center point of our work for twenty years.  We have only that twenty years of livlihood to thank you both for.  How can we possibly do that?

Yours in peace,

Sandi and Richard

P.S. What does this mean?

"There are short cv of JT & BJ under the sub-menu of "Misc" entitled  Ocarina Originators.  I cant think of anything to say.-You got the Email about JTs left foot?"<<<<

We received no e-mail about JT's left OR right foot...What happened??  (note: the image came, see above...)

April 10, 1998
Dear Sandi and Richard,

My mother, not realising all the implications, named me Barrington, which got shortened to Barry, Baz, Bazza and Bal (london) these are just the most common.  Thank you very much for the quotes and links-I have included a link on your names in my "CreditsThanksLinks"page. By the way, JT went to Sardinia-I wasn't thinking (but dreaming...) spelled it the Italian way.

The summer is a-coming!

Happy days,

Bazza, Homepage | Contents | On-Line Songbook | Ocarina Essay and Study | Catalog Major Links
Stories in the works at stories.html and  stories1.html and stories2.html.   See stories3.html for Zelda updates.  stories4.html Peace Through Music, stories5.html for Elsie's Poem and fmtm.html for updates on "From Mud To Music".
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