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  oboe  Team Gaughan at 15:28 on 12 October 2006

I have problems writing for the oboe in chamber pieces because of its strong tone. Don't get me wrong, I really like the instrument, esp when featured in a soloist way, but I find it hard to blend in a small ensemble. Any suggestions or comments?

  Re: oboe  John Robertson at 21:29 on 13 October 2006

I think oboe can blend really well, particularly in the higher register - the problem if there is one might be in the lower register sometimes.

  Re: oboe  red5 at 17:19 on 14 October 2006

I find almost the opposite, the oboe has a beautiful rich quality in the lower register and blends very well with trumpet, poco sul pont viola, and other winds. The high register is problematic to me because it's so week around top F, unless it's a solo it just won't be heard in a texture.

  Re: oboe  piargno at 23:28 on 14 October 2006

I tend to agree with John Robertson. The dynamic curve of the oboe is lower loud to higher less strong. The problem, however, lies with the oboist, rather than the instrument. If you find a non-agressive oboist, then blending should be no problem. Also, the most control for the oboe tends to be C within staff to the C above staff. While that's only an octave, when mixed with lower or higher notes, then blend can be very well manipulated. I find, in this register, flute doubling sounds extremely good. Especially flutter tongue flute.

Furthermore, the oboe can't flutter, but it's possible on english horn. The oboe, regarding extended technique, is probably the best instrument for multiphonics - it can create some of the most beautiful, interesting multiphonics ever!

  Re: oboe  red5 at 16:35 on 15 October 2006

In essence I was agreeing with John in that the oboe is weaker up high and stronger down low, I simply feel that the stronger sound is easier to blend with other instruments than the weak. The upper register oboe is far to easily overpowered and hence insignificant within a texture.

  Re: oboe  John Robertson at 18:31 on 16 October 2006

red - you do have a point, but perhaps it depends on the type of music. I was thinking in fairly traditional arrangement terms - I think if you browse through a Mozart or Beethoven symphony you will rarely find the oboe in the lower register when it is part of an orchestral chord. Then again you won't find many top Fs either - so I should probably rephrase my sentence as oboe "can blend really well, particularly in the middle/ higher-higher register"

  Re: oboe  piargno at 15:41 on 17 October 2006

I just think that one can learn a great deal about the oboe listening to how Les Six used it - Poulenc's piano trio is great. Also, not Les Six, but Black Anemones is great (is that ... Schwatner?).

  Re: oboe  red5 at 21:18 on 17 October 2006

I think George Benjamin uses the oboe very well and Takemitsu works for Heinz Holliger are also very well written. I know lots of people who hate the sound of the bagpipes but I think it's beautiful (when played well)!

  Re: oboe  dunkinwedd at 16:29 on 22 October 2006

What about using cor anglais instead?

Same soundworld - but less honking!

  Re: oboe  Team Gaughan at 15:53 on 28 October 2006

Thanks for all your comments. I shall listen again to the Poulenc- recently heard some new pieces exploring all kinds of new ways of playing.

I do like the oboe of course and am impressed by 2 works: Mozarts Oboe Quintet (which takes it up to high f) and the pieces Britten wrote.

I have to say I do have a fondness for the Oboe d'Amore however, and often use it in scores.

Thanks for all your comments