HISTORY: In the 17th century, the original one-piece shawm was turned into a jointed instrument by Jean Hotterre pere and Michel Philidor II at the Court of France (1657). They probably became the first ones to invent and both play the instrument they had come to start referring to as the oboe. In England though it was referred to as the hautbois or the hoboy, and then later known as the French hoboy. In 1951 Marx said that Michel Philidor II modified the old shawm reed, and with the help of Jean Hotteterre the Elder, together they made the oboe around 1655.
PHYSICAL DESCRIPTION: This double reed instrument has a gently tapering conical bore. There are many difficulties that performers have come across when playing the oboe. This is due to the volatile part of the oboe, the reed. The reed is inserted at the top of the instrument.
SOUND PROPERTIES: The oboe is said to have the most unique "voice" out of all the woodwinds. It has a warm, reedy, almost squawking sound. The pitch of the oboe is easily "lipped" higher or lower by the player, and a well-trained oboist is able to play long passages and long notes in a single breath due to the nature of the instrument. Sensitivity of the reed makes the oboe a very taxing instrument to play. The breath control required calls for an oboist to have frequent rest periods.
RANGE: There are four range sections for the oboe. The first from B flat below middle C to F in the first space in the treble clef staff, which is very thick and heavy. Next is from G on the second line to A above the staff, which gives off a warm and prominent sound. Then the range from B above the staff to E has a thin but clear tone characteristic. Finally the range from high F to E has a very pinched and ineffective tone.
Modern Oboe (image by Hustvedt)
Johann Sebastian Bach: Concerto for Violin and Oboe in C minor, BWV 1060, II
Aaron Copland: Appalachian Spring, Moderato
See Also[French] hautbois (m)
[German] Hoboe (f)
Last Updated: 2013-02-14 19:21:48