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The Indian civilizations of South and Central America have a rich musical culture. Flutes, including panpipes and whistles were most important. Many examples are in museums around the world. Rattles, scraper and drums were also used.

There is no evidence of stringed instruments at all! A whistle flute, sometimes called a fipple flute is a flute blown from the end.

Air is sent through a simple mouthpiece against the sharp edge of a hole cut in the pipe below the mouthpiece. It can be made of clay, wood cane. Finger holes make more than one pitch possible.

Whistle flutes were common. One example shows a flute made from bird bones. Clay flutes also survive. Ocarinas are flutes in the shapes of animals.

The word ocarina comes from the Spanish, who settled in the Central American country of Costa Rica, rich in rain forest animals.

The ancient inhabitants of Costa Rica crafted ocarinas that represented birds, armadillos, owls, bats tapirs, monkeys, and other rain forest creatures.

Today modern Latin American artists make ocarinas inspired by the ancient ones. The instruments are played by blowing in the small hole at the end, covering with your fingers the four holes on the body, and leaving the large hole at the end uncovered.

When  fingers are lifted  off any of the four holes on the body , varying sounds are created. The sounds made are similar to the calls of Costa Rican birds.