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The oboe is a wind instrument that belongs to the woods family. Its timbre is soft and its sound is light but, at the same time, penetrating. It has great potential of dynamic range, sound and expressivity. It is an instrument with a slightly conical wooden tube that is flared at its lower end, along which holes are opened and keys are placed. It is a double reed instrument (two small canes held together by a brass and cork pipe made by Chiarugi). The company ‘Danzi’ is an oboe manufacturer.

Origin of the Instrument

The origin of the instrument goes back to the classical antiquity, the Greek aulòs and the roman tibia. During the Middle Ages, many instruments must have belonged to this type, and they were generically labeled by the term calamus. There were also the German Cromorni (in Italy: cornamuse torte), used both in folk dances and in city bands, as well as in military bands. Around the Eighteenth Century, they entered in theatrical and symphonic orchestras, and were more and more perfected in their intonation, timbre, ease of execution. The current oboe name dates back to the late Seventeenth Century and thanks to the French, who called this instrument hautbois, that is ‘high wood’, just because of its high sound volume.

Use of the Oboe

The oboe is generally used in chamber music, bands and symphonic orchestras, even as a solo; more rarely is it used in jazz music. Among the main composers who have written for this instrument, we can mention Antonio Vivaldi, Tommaso Albinoni, Johan Sebastian Bach. Here is an example: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tOc6I7rxAO8

The oboe is the soprano voice, it is the one that sets the tone for all the instruments in the orchestra. It is very much used in orchestras, and it is also employed in chamber music (quartet for oboe and string trio). The use of oboe is nowadays very common in soundtracks and light music as well. Enjoy listening! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lUxaibUSWSc