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The oboe


Modern oboe
Tessitura B2 - F5

A generic term, the oboe is a woodwind musical instrument of the woodwind family of conical bore, the sound is created by a vibrating reed in double passage of breath. Its tone can be powerful and sound and sweet and charming, clear, nasal or full of roundness and warmth.

Known since antiquity, the instrument has evolved in space and time with a diversity that is matched only by the creativity of civilizations and cultures where this instrument is still in use today. The traditional oboe (bombard, bagpipe, duduk, gaiety, and other hichiriki zurna) and modern oboe (bagpipe, oboe, oboe d'amore, English horn and oboe, baritone oboe, Baroque , oboe classical ) form a large family with many facets .

Used solo, concert music, chamber music, symphony orchestra or band oboe, oboe modern means to the orchestra the whole family. According Héctor Berlioz , "the oboe is primarily a melodic instrument and has a rustic character, full of tenderness, I would even say shy. The candor, the simple grace, sweet joy or pain of a weak, agree to the strains of the oboe: it expresses perfectly into the cantabile. "

Works for oboe directories are primarily from Baroque (Johann Sebastian Bach's ) and classical (Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart ) and the renaissance of the XIXth century ( Robert Schumann ) to today ( Nicolas Bacri ).

Evolution of the oboe in Europe

Shawms Renaissance

From the XIIth century, observing illuminations and miniatures monastic manuscripts, tapestries, sculptures and paintings as representations of different oboes are not lacking, gives a fair idea of the instruments played in the circumstances and periods (the bagpipes of the Cantigas de Santa Maria, for example).

Available in consort (top, high-cons, size, low ...) the shawm, oboe, also called old, turned in one piece, especially of large bore flag, give birth to the disc, the krumhorns, or to Ciaramelli pifferi to Italian to Spanish dulzaina or grails, but also to bombard, oboe oboe or other Poitou Languedoc € | The oboe is also part of the bagpipe, the bagpipes, the Veuze or playing the bagpipes Deals melody .

The birth of the Baroque oboe

Dance of the Nymphs (detail), Gobelins, 1687

In France, shawms krumhorns and are part of the musical world of the royal court until the holiday village; oboe Poitou distracted evenings of King Louis XI, the bagpipes are dancing peasants.

From 1650, families Hotteterre and Philidor, instrument makers , composers, virtuoso musicians, members of the "Music House & the Great Stables of Roy, will move to the instrument, breaking it into three parts (upper body, lower body and flag), refining the bore, the adjusting hole notes, adding a key of C major W-shaped (for alternating the position of the hands) and a key of E flat. Permanently withdrawing the "spins" and "capsules" they impose controls performed with the reed lips to express all the subtleties of sound (Revolutionary difference with all other instruments of the family). They are considered the creators of the baroque oboe.

Method for learning to play the High Wood by Jacques Hotteterre, 1719

In 1664, Jean-Baptiste Lully , Superintendent of the Court, wrote a march for the new oboe, and include it in "La Grande Ecurie du Roy" Louis XIV, an institution dating back to Francis 1, phasing out the desks of the older instruments ( krumhorns, recorder, theorbo, viola da gamba, spruce ...). Available in several sizes, they are also entering the music of the musketeers, and therefore, with the bassoons, take off in Europe. If the oboe bands (especially military) are appreciated, the instrument is needed especially in the fledgling symphony orchestra, accompanying festivals, operas, ballets court, oratorios, cantatas. He triumphed as a soloist, sonatas, concertos and in chamber music.

All the composers of the Baroque will write these oboe, oboe d'amore, hunting (da caccia), English horn, oboe and oboe sizes baritones (rarer, but some who already in 1680, the shape of the saxophone !). The XVIIIth century will truly be the golden age of the oboe.

The Classical oboe

The oboe in the classical period, the mid-XVIIIth century and early XIXth century, does not vary much from its predecessor. To simplify the fingering, especially the "forks" and trills, to increase the range (up to cons-fa) with very empirical research, the keys become progressively more numerous (C # major, F, G # Key ' octave ), but overall, the shape and the bore remained relatively unchanged. It is not uncommon that the keys are added long after the manufacture of the instrument.

The modern oboe

In the early XIXth century, the manufacture of instruments of the woodwind family undergoes a revolution fundamental : Theobald Boehm invented the flute a key system and trays to fill the various holes. The hole diameter is no longer dependent on the width of the fingers and a tray can control the opening or closing of several holes. A system of rotating rod, fitted with springs or flat to another, allows to activate the plugging of holes out of reach.

For oboe after some tinkering, this is William and his son Charles Triébert Louis (professor of oboe at the Conservatoire de Paris) and Frederick, who adapt, refine and evolve the mechanism, also rethinking the bore. Their successors, François and Lucien Lorée, manufacturing model "Conservatory" with plates that will be quickly adopted by all oboists.

A wood

The first oboe were grass (reed, bamboo ...), using the natural hollow of the pipe (see hichiriki music Gagaku Japanese). Although some traditional instruments are still made today in these ephemeral materials, very quickly the need for a stronger material, persisting became evident. The factors looked for the hardest woods, high density, with regular and fine fibers as essentially the box but the cherry (wild cherry), rosewood (rosewood) or pear. Some Baroque oboes were even turned ivory.

In the XIXth century, the addition of keys and the multiplicity of holes has imposed the most resistant wood: ebony, specifically cocobolo or Dalbergia melanoxylon. Currently, ebony still dominates, but the exotic woods like cocobolo or rosewood bring new sounds and sensations to the oboe. Some factors have even built oboe metal or plexiglas (Marigaux). Last technological change, Buffet Crampon manufactures its tools "Green Line": the most modern composite material, patented, consisting of 95% of ebony powder, 5% carbon fiber and epoxy resin.

Model conservatory

Oboe d'amore, English horn, 3 oboes, oboe, baritone, bagpipes, oboe Study 2

The bore, 4mm at the base of the reed tube goes to 16mm at the end of the lower body (either 480mm), then widens to 38mm at the base of the flag (at 110mm).

Some 23 holes, concealed by a complex keywork made of nickel silver (alloy of copper, nickel and zinc), often shaped by hand, fitted, sanded, polished, welded, or even silver foil, flat springs or needle, attached to a pivoting rod fifties balls screwed into the wood, 6 plates / rings and a score of keys / paddles to open and close these holes ... While this mechanism allows the hundreds of fingering notes, trills and multiple sounds possible on a modern oboe.

The Viennese oboe

Viennese oboe

The Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra uses an oboe designed at the beginning of the XXth century by Hermann Zuleger and remained without significant change until now. It is characterized by a bore, a keywork and a special reed that give it the proper color to the orchestra. The Akademiemodel is only used in Vienna and differs markedly from the French oboe used elsewhere. It is produced by very few factors, Guntram Wolf and Yamaha.

The modern family

  • musette (or piccolo oboe) in E or F (minor third or perfect fourth higher), conical horn
  • the oboe in C, soprano, conical horn
  • oboe d'amore the (minor third lower), mezzo-soprano, small jar bent flag piriformis
  • the English horn in F (perfect fifth lower), viola, jar bent flag piriformis
  • baritone oboe (octave lower), called "bass oboe" by the English, should be called oboe tenor; S-shaped jar, its flag is sometimes pyriform upward
  • Heckelphone the same range as the baritone oboe, other bills

The reed

Modern oboe reed

An oboe reed is made from two thin strips of reed ligated on a pipe. It was she who requested the breath, begins to vibrate, thereby producing the sound.

Most often made by oboists themselves, the reeds must be adapted to the breath (the speed and volume of air), at the mouth (shape of teeth and lips), pressure of the jaw, temperature, humidity and even barometric pressure.

The reed, chosen for its very fine fibers and flexibility without softness, is dried, cut, split, gouged and cut, folded to be ligated to a tube with a nylon thread. Then began the delicate operation: the "scratching". After separating the two strips must shave or finely shredding the end using a knife or a razor. To vibrate, the thickness and shape of the scratch must be precise.

(Source: - copyright authors - article under GFDL)

Creation date : 10/02/2009 16:34
Category : - Instruments-Woods
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Johann Sebastian Bach

Johann Sebastian Bach (March 21, 1685 to July 28, 1750),  in french Jean-Sebastien Bach is a German composer, harpsichordist, organist and  violinist.
Composer of the Baroque era which symbolizes and personifies the peak, he had a major influence in the sustainable development of western music by great composers such as Mozart and Beethoven, recognized him as an unsurpassed master.
He was a musician who mastered the manufacture of instruments as well as instrumental technique, composition as improvisation, pedagogy and the management of a musical institution.
Known during his lifetime as an organist and improviser, his music was quickly forgotten, however, after his death, as unfashionable and his work, with few exceptions, written and never published, partly dispersed and lost, was rediscovered and studied by romantics.


Baroque period

The baroque period covers a large period in the history of music. It extends from the early XVIIth century at about the middle of the XVIIIth century, more or less uniform across the countries considered. As a necessarily schematic, aesthetics and inspiration baroque follow those of the Renaissance and above those of classicism.

Hector Berlioz

Hector Berlioz is a composer, a writer and a French critic, born December 11, 1803 at La Cote Saint Andre, Isere, died March 8, 1869 in Paris.
It is considered one of the greatest representatives of European Romanticism, although it should challenge the term "romantic" that meant nothing to him.
It is defined in fact as a classical composer. His music had the reputation of not respecting the laws of harmony, accusation which does not resist to a deepened reading of its scores.
It reveals, paradoxically, that Berlioz respects the historical foundations of harmony dating from the XVIth century (rules governing opposite and joint movements), but sometimes it frees additional rules appeared later and aesthetically questionable (rules modulation cadential among others).


Classical period

The Music "Classic" includes music written by agreement between the death of Johann Sebastian Bach is 1750 and the beginning of the Romantic period or the 1820s. By extension, called  "classical music" all european art music, music from the Renaissance to contemporary music. It is therefore necessary to separate the classical music, composers whose headlights are Joseph Haydn, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Ludwig van Beethoven, Christoph Willibald Gluck, and classical music opposed to popular music in the West or elsewhere (referred to "Indian classical music," for example).


Originally, a desk is a piece of furniture equipped with an incline to keep open a document in order to read, write or at least facilitate consultation. By extension, music, the word has several meanings: object supporting a score, location of the conductor of an orchestra section, control panel or control of an organ or computerized instruments.

A support for the partition

In the midst of the Middle Ages, when Western music was learned systematized the use of notation, the panel has appointed a cabinet for supporting a partition so as to permit reading.

The position of conductor

"The 'console can metaphorically describe the place of the conductor. Thus, the radio, the commentator called sometimes the conductor by the expression: "the band X, Y on the podium.

A group of musicians

In a musical, a desk is a group of musicians performing the same party as the tenors in a choir or second violins in a symphony orchestra, but he also referred to as a set of instruments belonging to the same family, wood an orchestra to brass band or a big band.

The fundamental

In harmony, the fundamental is the real note on which is founded « superimposing of third » of an agreement, and that gives its name to this one.
For example, in the chord of " C major "(do-mi-sol), the note C is the fundamental.
When agreement is in the fundamental state, the fundamental belongs to the low. Contrariwise, when agreement is in the state of inversion, the fundamental does not belong to the low.

Jean-Baptiste Lully

Jean-Baptiste Lully, born Giovanni Battista Lulli in Florence on November 28th, 1632 and died in Paris on March 22nd, 1687, is a French compositor of Italian origin, superintendent of the music of Louis XIV. By the donations of musician and organizer as well as sycophant and schemer, Lully dominated all musical life in France at the time of the King-sun. It was at the origin of several forms which he organized or conceived: lyric tragedy, big mote, opening to the French.
Her influence on all European music of its epoch was big, and numerous among the most gifted (Henry Purcell, Georg Friedrich Haendel, Johann Sebastian Bach, Jean-Philippe Rameau) is indebted to him in a title or other one.



In a music system, the word melody means the dimension that takes into account the heights emitted by a source, individual or collective, instrumental or vocal in a musical production of any kind. The main melody is opposed to the rhythm, another component of the music.
Because it is a succession of sounds with different frequencies, a melody is a succession of intervals. Indeed, from the standpoint of the interpreter, like that of the listener, each note of a melody is determined by the melodic interval that separates it from the previous note.

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

Johannes Chrysostomus Wolfgang Theophilus Mozart, better known by the name of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (born in Salzburg, a principality of the Holy Roman Empire, January 27, 1756 - died in Vienna Dec. 5, 1791) is generally considered one of the largest Composers of European classical music.
Although he died at thirty-five years, it leaves an important work (626 work are listed in the Catalog KV) which embraces all genres of his time.
According to the testimony of his contemporaries was the piano to the violin as a virtuoso.


Nicolas Bacri

Nicolas Bacri, born in 1961, is a French composer.

The octave in music

The etymology of the word octave just music: it takes eight grades to have a frequency twice as high.
Indeed, the one to play in tune, it must produce a frequency of 440 Hz to play the octave above, it is necessary to produce a frequency of 880 Hz, ie, exactly twice.
In music, an octave is the interval between two sounds whose fundamental frequency of one is twice the frequency of the other. Divided into several sub-intervals, it allows to define the ranges.

Robert Schumann

Robert Schumann (June 8, 1810, Zwickau - July 29, 1856, Endenich, now a district of Bonn) was a German composer of the Romantic movement.
His music reflects a lushly romantic freedom wind blowing at the beginning of the nineteenth century in a rapidly changing West.
Composer literary excellence, Schumann and his music to illustrate perfectly the figure of romantic passion.


The Symphony Orchestra

A symphony orchestra is a musical ensemble consisting of four families of instruments: strings, woodwinds, brass and percussion.
It comes from the string orchestra of the baroque period which was gradually expanded the oboe, bassoon, sometimes horns, trumpets, and timpani.
The classical period with Gossec, Haydn and Mozart often seen winds s'architecturer by two (2 flutes, 2 oboes, two clarinets, two bassoons, two horns, two trumpets).
The desks of the Romantic period s'ordonnancent rather with the addition of three more or less systematic instruments like the piccolo, English horn, bass clarinet, saxophone, contrabassoon, trombones and tuba.
It is also the time who knows the great evolution of percussion.
In the early twentieth century, the symphony can be large, generally, more than eighty musicians, sometimes exceeding the number hundred instrumentalists.
Since the late seventeenth century, its main function is dedicated to the performance in the concert hall, symphonic works and concertos, secular or sacred.
This course is also used for accompaniment in the pit in the opera houses, performances of opera or dance.
The composers of film scores, incidental music heiresses, they too use all the resources and expressive music of the symphony orchestra.


In music, the tessitura of a voice or an instrument means all the notes a musician, singer or instrumentalist, is capable of transmitting easily from the serious to the acute. The tessitura and tone are used to classify certain instruments and voices by categories or families.
The word "tessitura" must be carefully distinguished from the word vocal tessitura, which designates the total tessitura (between extreme scores) of a musical part (of a voice or an instrument).

Theobald Boehm

Theobald Boehm (April 9, 1794 to November 25, 1881) is a musician - flute to the Court of Bavaria - composer, instrument maker of music, acoustics and inventor of Bavaria.
The son of a goldsmith, he is best known for having developed the flute as we know it today.
He developed the first flute in 1832 "Boehm system" (as opposed to previous systems, so-called "simple systems"), which is adopted by famous flautists of the time, but also meets strong opposition, including that of John Louis Tulou the Paris Conservatoire.
In 1847, he built his first metal flute, whose body was cylindrical bore and conical head. It is this instrument that will give birth to the modern flute.
The Boehm system was applied with varying degrees of success to other wind instruments of the woodwind family, especially the clarinet.



In western music, the word means a tone scale music belonging to the tonal system.

  • Caught in a broad sense, the word "tone" can refer to the tonal system as a whole.
  • The word can also take the direction of height, its fundamental to some instruments.
  • The word tone can be used as a synonym for tone.

A tone is defined as the set of intervals, melodic and harmonic as well, between hierarchical levels of a given scale compared to its fundamental level, called tonic. A tone is characterized by both the tonic and its mode.
Each key is constructed from the diatonic scale.

The tone is also a means to locate a musical instrument in relation to C reference.
The flute, violin or piano are in C, that is to say that when the C is played, it really means to do. The B-flat trumpet sounded really flat so when playing a do. The horn (in F) is heard when playing an F do.

The tone is very important because it will allow transposition and transcription of partitions in C in tones of instruments with different pitches.

Some instruments and their tone:

  • Ut: Piano, strings, flutes and piccolo, oboe, bassoon, C trumpet, trombone, tuba, bass tuba.
  • D flat: the old piccolos.
  • Re: Trumpet in D.
  • Eb: alto saxophone and baritone, small bugle, horn in E flat, alto (small tuba), clarinet, bass tuba.
  • F: Cor.
  • Sol: Trumpet in G.
  • The: Oboe d'amore, the trumpet.
  • Bb: soprano saxophone, tenor tuba (euphonium and baritone), B-flat trumpet, flugelhorn, clarinet, bass tuba (bombardon).

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