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Prehistory of the melodic udu. Brief overview since its origins to the current design.
Along the eight years I've been building and perfecting udus, I've created many models and prototypes.
In these first models mi goal was to build something that could do what the four holes ocarina does. This instrument, by several combinations of open and closed holes, can generate a diatonic scale with several chromatic notes.
Far too big. I haven't ever made another one this size. It needs enormous holes too difficult to cover with the palms of the hands. It produced a diatonic scale with a range of a major sixth.
First melodic udu in exhibition in Toledo's Fine Arts School. Autumn 2009.
Diatonic octave with some chromatic notes, but... 4 are too many holes.
Three holes udus
For some time I built mainly three holes udus, with two possible tunings: one like the first prototype's and a pentatonic tuning with an octave range.
Inner tubes allow bigger holes, which project more intense sounds.
Inner tubes don't allow these udus to be made with molds. the building process has to be manual.
A rather bizarre few
Number of holes
The three holes udus have more volume and sustain that the four holes' ones, and the two holes udus more than the three holes ones. I investigated the possibilities of two holes udus, both coverable and beatable.
Udus displayed in FARCAMA (Castilla-La Mancha's main arts and crafts fair) in 2011, is the New Artisans section.
Ready for firing
Final work of my sculpture studies:
"The voice of the Great Mother". Two melodic udus, two diatonic ocarinas with four holes and two pentatonic ocarinas with three holes to be played with one hand. All instrument in the shape of prehistoric venuses.
Final work of my studies in ceramics:
"Pentatonic set of three udus and a one hand ocarina". Four instruments to be played by one person.
The three udus together produce a five notes scale, whereas the current models play every note of the chromatic scale within an octave and a half range. The main interest of this set is in polyphony, the simultaneous sounds it can produce.
Finally I was convinced by the advantages of one hole for covering and another hole for beating.
The almond shape of the tube for stopping allows greater and more controlled variation of the open surface with a small movement of the hand. One hand hits the round hole leaving it open or closed, the other hand covers the almond shaped hole more (deep sounds) or less (higher pitched sounds). This is all technique you have to know. Let your ear guide your hands; if the produced sound is too low, open more; and if the generated sound is too high pitched, cover more. Practice and you'll discover how easy it is to automatize it. The technique is so simple that soon it is done without thinking and so music can directly flow from your heart/mind through the udu.