Xun (Chinese ocarina, music instrument)

by licheong, published

Xun (Chinese ocarina, music instrument) by licheong Oct 25, 2014
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This is a Chinese musical instrument called xun. Similar to the Japanese ocarina, this instrument is blown at the top like you blow a flute, and the pitch can be controlled by covering the finger holes. The 6cm smaller version has a higher pitch and it contains 6 fingerholes. The 8cm version has a slightly lower pitch and it contains 8 fingerholes.

Here is a video showing an earlier version of it: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4vallobApQc

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I made the 8cm with PLA, took 17 hours approx on an Ultimaker 2+. Too bad I have the same problem making it sound when opening one of the holes. Is there any tips on how to modify it to be audible?

Just to be clear, the ocarina isn't a Japanese instrument. It's from South America.

I haven't printed the xun yet, but I'm planning on it. Will printing in PLA make much of a difference in sound?

What would happen if I added a fibble to its mouth piece or a whistle. It will be more like an ocarina that way and easier to play

Jun 13, 2015 - Modified Jun 13, 2015
nimaid - in reply to AutogyroGuy

That's kind of what I'm saying. Make the upper lip 'sharper', similar to a fipple. No mouth piece, as that's not what the Xun traditionally is. It's more like a fancy jug with holes in it than an ocarina. Once he uploads the source files, I'll improve it subtly to make it easier to play.

Hi Nimaid,
Sorry for the late reply. I was busy in the week and forgot about it. I made the model in Rhino (mac). You can download from here:
Thanks very much!

The reason this is hard to sound (especially with multiple holes uncovered) because the lip isn't a sharp angle. Look up how a Helmholtz resonator works to understand why the sharp lip is important. If you upload whatever source files you used, I could fix it properly for you.

Hi Nimald, thanks very much! I've just looked up Helmholtz resonator, that is very useful information! I've made the Xun like that because it is how the instrument looks like historically, but very probably a tube or a mouthpiece could make it sound better! I shall upload the source files soon.

Actually, all you need to do is to make the lip sharp, like the fipple on a whistle. Upload the source files, and I'll show you what I mean.

If the sound is very hard to get and is very quiet, try printing with a higher full density. The more solid the walls, the more loud and efficient the xun will be. I have also found the larger one is easier to start on as it has a bigger hole in the top but it does take more air to produce sound.

Nov 21, 2014 - Modified Nov 21, 2014

Hi, I've printed a 6cm (nylon) and 8cm version (porcelain) and they both make some sounds.

Try to test it with all finger holes covered first, and you need to find a particular blowing angle to produce a sound, just like how you blow a flute. Make your mouth looks like whistling and blow an air stream focused at 45 degrees downwards, put the Xun as close as your Chin, then rotate it slightly outward to find the right angle. Hope it helps!

It could be hard to get a sound at higher register, that's why I drilled fewer holes on the 6cm version.

I printed the 8-cm and had the same problems with making it sound.

I printed the 6-cm version and for some reason did not work (didn't sound). Maybe air is escaping somewhere in the build (I printed a low resolution -0.30 mm). Would that have something to do with it?

Is there a reason why the 6-cm version doesn't have the two holes in the back?

I just started printing it and then I saw this comment. Your printer has a resolution of 300 microns. Mine is 200 microns hopefully I didn't just waste a whole lot of plastic. I will post my results when it is done.

Mine had some openings in it, but I improvised and brushed some elmers glue over where the air was coming out and it seemed to do the trick. My issue now, however is I can get it to sound right only with all of the holes closed. Once I open any of the hole I just get air, I'll have to try those files in the comment above