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The Oboe

Next to oboe musette, the oboe is the smallest and higest-pitched of the family of instruments called the double-reeds. The name comes from two French words: haut meaning high and bois meaning wood, as the French name for oboe is hautbois. The oboe is about 21 inches long. It was developed from it's ancient cousin known as the shawm in the 1600's, probably by the two French musicians, Jean Hotteterre and Andre Philidor.

The range of the oboe is a hair above three octaves, depending on the player's abilities. The tone is produced by means of a small double reed. Predecessors of the oboe, called shawms, had a raucous, penetrating sound, but today the oboe is known for its smooth and beautiful tone.

The oboe is important in symphony orchestras and various chamber ensembles such a woodwind quintets and double consorts. Unfortunately, oboes are in the concert bands, but they really belong in the orchestra. Composers who wrote extensively for the instrument were Handel, Vivaldi, Bach, among many others.