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The Oboe is a double reed woodwind instrument with a long resonating pipe that allows the sound to be altered through the action of depressing keys or buttons. The construction of the oboe is such that it is fragile made from carefully shaped pieces of wood, rather than brass and it carries a very elegant and tender sound. It’s like the smell of chocolate mixed with honey and cream, slow baking in an oven into a delicate soufflé of sound. Oboes are nice. Oboes are much nicer than the Clarinet in sound, although an exceptional Clarinetist can outplay an Oboist any day.
What setting is the Instrument played in:
The rich presence of an Oboe, its well placed mid range sound that carries for long distances, allows it to be used in a variety of settings. It is adaptable to high speed orchestral titillation, while still being able to recount the sad bluesy tale it is telling through the heart of the performer. The system of buttons and valves that operates the Oboe is very close to that which operates on the Clarinet or Bassoon. As the musician depresses a key or button, the length of the pipe is modified and the sound changes. By changing their breathing the Oboist can keep a song moving by changing the sound coming out of the instrument.
The nature of the instrument is one that lends itself to Classical performance, synchronizing and merging beautifully with a range of instruments to produce a full bodied recital. Developing its new name and form in the later ends of the 18th Century, the Oboe was quite significant to the production of Baroque music. Compositions can be found from numerous composers around the turn of the 19th century. The work of JS Bach incorporates certain elements of Oboe, and it became prominent again when jazz experimentalists began searching for alternative forms of expression.
Novice players squeak and squeal:
The avant-garde music movement presented some interesting new approaches to the playing of woodwind instruments, and the Oboe was included within this experimentation. The two reeds allow for a range of sounds to be produced, especially if played improperly. The squeaking and squealing of a novice player was incorporated into musical experimentation, to produce works that are often very interesting to listen to.
It has occasionally been incorporated into musical performances of music written by Thelonius Monk and Dave Brubeck. These two greats of the Jazz era produced numerous compositions for an orchestral setting or ensemble playing, and when a Clarinet, Saxophone, Oboe and Bassoon are played by skilled performers using their music, audiences can be mesmerized with the magic of the music. The other major setting for the use of the Oboe in the modern sphere is in the military band. The full regalia of a military band will include one, sometimes more Oboists, to round out the sound and allow for a range of musical tones to be produced for public performance.
Care of the instrument:
Care of the oboe is reasonably straight forward, utilizing Almond Oil to keep the wood in good condition. The metal work should be cleaned and maintained regularly to ensure smooth operation of the mechanism and the prolonged value of the instrument. If the instrument has not been played in a while, then soaking the reed over night in water will be required, otherwise it will be unplayable. As the moisture is absorbed into the wood the sound character of the reed changes and becomes able to cope with the extensive vibration that playing the Oboe entails. With good maintenance and care, and Oboe can last for hundreds of years, but it may require refurbishing occasionally as the metal components wear out and degrade. They are often very valuable instruments and as with any instrument should not be treated roughly.