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Profile of the Oboe

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Profile of the Oboe

Oboe

Photo Courtesy of Kathryn McCallum

Name of Instrument::

Oboe

Family:

Woodwind, double-reed

How to Play:

The oboe is the treble voice of the woodwind instruments. The musician blows air into a thin, tapered double reed and cover or uncover the holes. Among the wind instruments, the oboe is very difficult to learn because of the required embouchure. That is why it is generally recommended for children 11 years and older.

Types:

There are several types of oboes:
  • English horn - also known as cor anglais, is pitched to the key of F.
  • Oboe d'amore - is pitched in A, mainly used in Bach compositions and other pieces written in the 20th century.
  • Baritone oboe - also known as hautbois baryton looks like a bigger, lower-pitched English horn.
  • Heckelphone - its' bore and reed are larger than the baritone oboe.

There are other types of oboes which are rarely used.

First Known Oboes:

The name oboe is a German word, it is hautbois in French. The oboe is believed to have originated from the shawm, an instrument used for outdoor ceremonies. Michel Philidor and Jacques Hotteterre are credited for inventing the orchestral oboe which was used to play indoors along with string instruments. During the 17th century, the oboe became one of the leading solo instruments used in the military and orchestras. Oboes used to have only 2 keys.

Oboe Players:

The oboes' status diminished through the centuries but attention to it was soon revived through the works of composers during the 19th century, specifically Richard Strauss. Some notable oboists are: John de Lancie, Neil Black, Theodore Baskin, Elaine Douvas, Harold Gomberg and Alex Klein.

Additional Oboe Resource:

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