The oboe is a woodwind instrument with a double reed.
Oboes are usually made of wood, but may also be made of synthetic materials, such as plastic, resin or hybrid composites.
The oboe has four parts: the bell, lower joint, upper joint, and the reed.
The most common oboe plays in the treble or soprano range.
A soprano oboe measures roughly 65 cm (25 1⁄2 in) long, with metal keys, a conical bore and a flared bell.
Sound is produced by blowing into the reed at a sufficient air pressure, causing it to vibrate with the air column.
The distinctive tone is versatile and has been described as “bright”.
Today, the oboe is commonly used as orchestral or solo instrument in symphony orchestras, concert bands and chamber ensembles.
Although the precise year when the oboe was invented is unknown, it is said to have originated sometime around the mid 17th century in France. Of course, double-reed wind instruments such as the reed flute were in use in Europe even before then.
By the end of the 17th century it was the principal wind instrument of the orchestra and military band and, after the violin, the leading solo instrument of the time.
Because early oboes were simple instruments with only two or three keys, it was not easy to play all semitones. However, instruments with greater numbers of keys started being manufactured at the end of the 18th century, allowing players to produce all semitones consistently.
At the end of the 19th century, oboes with a revolutionary new mechanism were created in France, changing the situation considerably. The new system developed in France was known as the conservatoire style, and it is this style of oboe that is now mainstream.
The modern standard oboe is most commonly made from grenadilla, also known as African blackwood, though some manufacturers also make oboes out of other members of the genus Dalbergia, which includes cocobolo, rosewood, and violetwood. Ebony has also been used.
Most professional oboists make their reeds to suit their individual needs. By making their reeds, oboists can precisely control factors such as tone color, intonation, and responsiveness. They can also account for individual embouchure, oral cavity, oboe angle, and air support.
Classical-era composers who wrote concertos for oboe include Mozart, Haydn, Beethoven and numerous other composers.
The oboe is especially used in classical music, chamber music, film music, some genres of folk music, and is occasionally heard in jazz, rock, pop, and popular music.
The English word “oboe” is a corruption of the French word for oboe, hautbois, which is a compound word made of haut meaning “high” and bois, meaning “wood.”
When the word oboe is used alone, it is generally taken to mean the treble instrument rather than other instruments of the family, such as the bass oboe, the cor anglais (English horn), or oboe
A musician who plays the oboe is called an oboist.
The cost of new oboes ranges from $2,500 to $4,000, while used oboes in condition generally cost $1,800-$3,000. These high quality oboes are crafted of either Grenadilla wood or high-density resin (plastic.).
The oboe is one of the more difficult woodwind instruments to play. It first takes some time until the player can even produce a sound, and even then, a beginner has little ability to control it.
The oboe looks very similar to the clarinet, and may be confused with it. While the clarinet’s shape remains cylindrical, the oboe’s body is conical.
The oboe is widely recognized as the instrument that tunes the orchestra with its distinctive ‘A’. Conveniently, every string instrument has an A string. So it makes sense for string orchestras to tune to the open A string of the first violinist. And as other families of instruments have joined the orchestra over the years, they followed suit.
The oboe section sits in the center of the orchestra next to the flute section.
French King Louis XIV was said to be so fond of the oboe that his court had over 30 oboe players employed to fill out the royal orchestra’s sound.
One of the most prominent uses of the oboe in a film score is Ennio Morricone’s “Gabriel’s Oboe” theme from the 1986 film The Mission.
The oboe is also featured as a solo instrument in the “Love Theme” in Nino Rota’s score to The Godfather.