Thursday, January 14, 2010

What Is THAT?

That's usually the response I get when I tell people I play the oboe. They have no idea what it is. Mostly because oboe is a very classical instrument. It's not like clarinets or flutes, which are also used in jazz and stuff like that. Oboe is pretty much a strictly classical instrument. I've been playing oboe for about two years, and I LOVE it. It's not a very common instrument for people to choose to play (not near as popular as flute or violin), but I liked it. From the moment I first heard it, I knew I wanted to play it.

A symphony website can explain better than me how it works, so here is my favorite explanation:

Family: Woodwind
Pitch Range: Approximately 2 octaves
Size: About 23 inches long

The oboe, which is pitched just below the flute, is the highest of the double reed instruments. Reeds are small, very thin, slices of cane that are inserted into the top of the instrument. Sound is produced when air is blown through the reeds, which sends a vibration through the instrument. Almost all oboe players make their own reeds (Except not me yet... I'm still focusing on playing), which is quite an artful task. The shape and design of the reed affects the sound the instrument will make, so well-crafted reeds are very important.
The body of the oboe is usually constructed out of wood, starting small and gradually enlarging into a small bell at the lower end. Like the flute, the oboe also has several holes and keys which are used to determine pitch.

Did You Know?
Because the oboe has such a pure sound and its pitch is not as affected by temperature as are many other instruments, it is the instrument that you hear sound an "A" at the beginning of a concert. All other instruments tune to that pitch.

Since most people (who aren't obsessive about classical music) have never heard an oboe, I recorded myself playing a couple of songs I thought some of you might know. Keep in mind that I am by no means a professional. The sound you hear from my oboe would sound about a million percent better if someone who played oboe for a living could play it. But, seeing as I can't hire a professional, you get me! The first song is A Narnia Lullaby, the song Mr. Tumnus plays in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. The second song is My Own Home, the song that the girl sings at the end of The Jungle Book. Hope you enjoy it!

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