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The tablature represents the holes on the top of the ocarina, and, where necessary, the holes on the underside.
This enables easy playing, particularly for beginners.
This means that, unlike a flute or recorder, sound is created by resonance of the entire cavity and the placement of the holes on an ocarina is largely irrelevant – their size is the most important factor.
This method is typically used by beginners who have not learned to read sheet music.
A third method uses a pictorial tablature similar to the ocarina's finger hole pattern, with blackened holes that represent holes to cover.
Ocarina-type instruments have been of particular importance in Chinese and Mesoamerican cultures.
For the Chinese, the instrument played an important role in their long history of song and dance.