The Sound of the Oboe

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The Sound of the Oboe (also known as it’s tone) is produced by blowing into the oboe reed, which is inserted into the top joint of the Oboe.


The air then goes on to resonate through the rest of the instrument and out into the air, escaping via the holes, keywork, and the bell at the bottom. The above video is a fabulous example of what the Oboe can sound like at it’s absolute best. 🙂

Making a Good Sound:

An Oboe’s sound quality is dependent on many things, but the following list are the main contributors:

  • the quality and condition of your instrument
  • the quality, condition and suitability of the reed
  • the Oboist’s ability
  • external conditions such as the surrounding acoustics, temperature and weather conditions*(see below).

Just as with any other instrument, creating a good sound over the entire range of the Oboe consistently and reliably is something that comes with years of practice and patient learning.

Embouchure, diaphragm support, breathing, fingering and posture are all aspects of playing that an Oboist has to work on to enhance and improve their sound. For some more specific examples of how to improve your sound, read the improving your sound page right here.

Due to the relationship of the reed to the Oboe’s sound, it also can’t be said often enough that creating a good sound consistently on the Oboe is highly dependent on the player’s ability to access a good supplier of reeds, or on learning how to make and adjust your reed for yourself.

Learning to learn how to make your own reeds may sound extreme, but making reeds in itself is a wonderful art-form, (more related to carpentry than music), but it’s a fantastic skill and can be a part of really mastering the instrument and your playing. For more information on Oboe reed making, click right here.

* Because the Oboe is a wooden instrument and the reed is made out of (bamboo) cane, changes in the weather can also sometimes have quite a severe effect on your sound. Changes in the weather or temperature commonly effect tuning, but it can also alter the character and condition of your reed.

Severe changes in weather or temperature can also result in things like a cracked bore, or excessive moisture in the Oboe’s keys,  so it’s important to know how to take care of your Oboe in all conditions! Click here to buy a book on how to take care of your instrument.

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