Woodwinds – Keep a Tight Hold on That Auxiliary!

Let’s say that you’re second oboist for a mid-sized orchestra. You play a lot of cor anglais parts as a result. On one new work, you’re piping away at some very good writing for second oboe – clean, well-supported, and easy to […]

Heckelphone/Bass Oboe – The Realities

My recent experiences in booking wind players for my orchestration course has brought up a very important tip about heckelphone and bass oboe, a factor involved in the use of these instruments that you also won’t find in the orchestration manuals. I realise, of course, […]

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 …