Oboe Information

The oboe is a double reed musical instrument of the woodwind family. In English, prior to 1770, the instrument was called "hautbois", "hoboy", or "French hoboy". The spelling "oboe" was adopted into English ca. 1770 from the Italian oboè, a transliteration in that language's orthography of the 17th-century pronunciation of the French word hautbois, a compound word made of haut and bois . A musician who plays the oboe is called an oboist. Careful manipulation of embouchure and air pressure allows the player to express timbre and dynamics.

In comparison to other modern woodwind instruments, the oboe has a clear and penetrating voice. The Sprightly Companion, an instruction book of 1695, describes the voice as "Majestical and Stately, and not much Inferior to the Trumpet." Similarly, the voice is described in the play Angels in America as sounding like that of a duck if the duck were a songbird. The timbre of the oboe is derived from the oboe's conical bore . As a result, oboes are readily audible over other instruments in large ensembles.

The oboe is pitched in concert C and has a soprano range. Orchestras frequently tune to a concert A played by the oboe. According to the League of American Orchestras, this is done because the pitch of the oboe is secure and its penetrating sound makes it ideal for tuning purposes. The pitch of the oboe is affected by the way in which the reed is made. Variations in cane and other construction materials, the age of the reed, and differences in scrape and length will all affect the pitch of the instrument. Weather conditions such as temperature and humidity will also affect the pitch. Skilled oboists adjust their embouchure to compensate for these factors.

Wikipedia, Oboe, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oboe (as of Apr 1, 2010)

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