Video Tip of the Week: Stratospheric Oboe Solos

A video installment in my daily series of tips. Please follow me on Twitter for the Orchestration Online Tip of the Day at @OrchestrationOL, or join the Orchestration Online Facebook group for feedback, resources, and advice. Tips of the Day for this week: Monday, February 18: Oboe Vibrato Speed Tuesday, February 19: Oboe Articulation Wednesday, …

Oboe – Optimum Range

The best, most characteristic sound of the oboe comes from its middle octave-and-a-half: from F at the bottom of the staff up to B-flat above. This week’s tips on the oboe have covered phrasing and breath issues, along with extremes of range (the upper limits of which we’ll explore in tomorrow’s video tip). But it’s …

Oboe – Slurring Up vs. Down

Slurring up on the oboe is always simpler than slurring down. The above is a very simple statement for a complex situation. Slurring up implies a certain tightening of the embouchure, while slurring down is the opposite. But as we’ve seen with the horn, it’s much simpler to increase pressure smoothly than it is to …

Oboe – Phrasing

Use the oboe’s seemingly endless ability to phrase to its best effect in constructing powerfully phrased episodes, but never take it for granted. As I mentioned earlier this week, the oboe is a remarkably small device driven by the overpowered engine of the player’s breath and embouchure. In some ways, it’s the opposite of the …

Oboe – Lowest Octave

Be aware of the problems of dynamic control represented by the oboe’s lowest register. It’s been said by some orchestration teachers that the oboe represents the opposite dynamic characteristics to the flute. As the the flute gets lower and lower in pitch, it becomes ever softer and more delicate, while the oboe gets louder and …

Oboe – Articulation

Be aware of the extreme precision of oboe articulation, and use it to its best effect. There’s a certain default position about oboe in the minds of many beginning composers – to see it mainly as a lyrical resource. While oboe is one of the most expressive of instruments in emoting a legato passage, restricting …

Oboe – Vibrato Formation and Frequency

The orchestrator needs to be aware of the process by which oboists vibrato, and how the variability of speed thereof affects musical expression. As most composers are aware string vibrato is caused by a minute oscillation of the fingertips, essentially a direct modulation of pitch. But oboe can’t vibrato in pitch from a direct application …

Video Tip of the Week: The Ceiling on Sul Tasto

A video installment in my daily series of tips. Please follow me on Twitter for the Orchestration Online Tip of the Day at @OrchestrationOL, or join the Orchestration Online Facebook group for feedback, resources, and advice. Tips of the Day for this week: Monday, February 11: The Importance of Marking Bowings Tuesday, February 12: A …

Strings – Studying Bowing on Marked Parts

Study bowing by looking at marked string parts, and look over your own orchestra parts once they’ve been rehearsed and performed. This can be enormously educational for an orchestrator trying to get their head around how bowing works. Even a very experienced composer will occasionally score a phrase with certain assumptions about bowing, and then …

Strings – Shaping Phrases “Vocally”

Use slurs and articulation in a vocal, flexible way for a convincing style of string phrasing. This tip also applies to wind and brass phrasing. A common approach for beginning composers is to use one type of articulation throughout a passage, or one type of slurring across a vertical texture, or to have all instruments …