From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
"Hautbois" redirects here. For the strawberry variety, see Hautbois strawberry.
For other uses, see OBOE (disambiguation).
The oboe ( /ˈoʊboʊ/) is a double reed musical instrument of the woodwind family. In English, prior to 1770, the instrument was called "hautbois" (French compound word madeof haut ("high, loud") and bois ("wood, woodwind"), "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 name. A musician who plays the oboe is called an oboist.
In comparison to othermodern woodwind instruments, the oboe has a clear and penetrating voice. The Sprightly Companion, an instruction book published by Henry Playford in 1695, describes the oboe as "Majestical and Stately, and not much Inferior to the Trumpet." More humorously, 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 isderived from the oboe's conical bore (as opposed to the generally cylindrical bore of flutes andclarinets). 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 (usually A440) played by the oboe. According to the League of American Orchestras, this is done because the pitchof 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. The reed has a significant effect on the sound of the instrument. 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. German and Frenchreeds, for instance, differ in many ways, causing the sound of the oboe to vary accordingly. Weather conditions such as temperature and humidity will also affect the pitch. Skilled oboists adjust their embouchure to compensate for these factors. Subtle manipulation of embouchure and air pressure allows the player to express timbre and dynamics.
The oboe first appeared in the mid-17th century, when it was called hautbois. This name was also used for its predecessor, the shawm, from which the basic form of the hautbois was derived. Major differences between the two instruments include the division of the hautbois into three sections, or joints (which allowed for more precise manufacture), the elimination ofthe pirouette, the wooden ledge below the reed which allowed players to rest their lips, and the wind-cap, a cap placed over the reed that enabled shawm players to produce greater volume. The latter development, more than any other, was responsible for bringing the hautbois indoors where, due to its more refined sound and style of playing, it took up a permanent place in the orchestra.
The exact date andplace of origin of the hautbois are obscure, as are the individuals who were responsible. Circumstantial evidence, such as the statement by Michel de la Barre in his Memoire, points to members of the Philidor (Filidor) and Hotteterre families. The instrument may in fact have had multiple inventors.The hautbois quickly spread throughout Europe, including England, where it was called "hautboy","hoboy", "hautboit", "howboye", and similar variants of the French name. It was the main melody instrument in early military bands, until it was succeeded by the clarinet.
The baroque oboe was generally made of boxwood and had three keys: a "great" key and two side keys (The side key was often doubled to facilitate use of either the right or left hand on the bottom holes). In order to...