Duble Reed Instruments Essay, Research Paper
The four most commonly used double reed instruments are the oboe, the English horn, the bassoon, and the contra bassoon. All of the double reed instruments belong to the woodwind family. Between the four instruments the range of double reeds are a low B flat in bass clef 3 octaves bellow middle C to a high G in treble clef 3 octaves above middle C.
The oboe is a double reed woodwind instrument. It has a range of a B flat to a high G 3 octaves above middle C. The oboe is built in the key of c. The French musicians Jean Hotteterre and Michel Philidor invented it in the 17th century. During the Baroque period, violins were the most common solo instruments, so when the oboe was invented a revolution followed. In the beginning they had only two keys. These original oboes where high in quality mostly due to their construction in three separate parts. Several sized oboes were made for playing in groups. The soprano and alto became common for solo roles. During the later baroque and almost the whole Vienna classicism, the oboe was the leading wind instrument of the orchestra. The oboe has a wide dynamic range, from pianissimo to forte. It is favored as the “singer” in the orchestra. The oboe is separated into three parts; the bell, lower joint, and the upper joint. The joints are drilled with a seven hole scale in the key of the instrument. The first hole above the middle joint and the first hole bellow the middle joint is drilled double. The reed is mounted in the top of the oboe on a metal tube or staple. A sound is produced through the use of the double reed. Two reeds are bond together with a small opening between them, and are attached as a mouthpiece at the end of the tube. The player takes the reeds between their lips, and vibrates them with breath lip pressure. A complicated metal mechanism stops and opens the holes in the modern open, with the fingering like a flute. Trills, Tremolos, and staccato notes are all possible for an oboe player. A modern day oboe player is Joseph Robinson who plays in the New York Philharmonic.
The English horn is a double reed woodwind instrument. It has a range of an E to an A 2 octaves above middle C. The English horn is built in the key of F. Near the end of the eighteenth century the English horn came about from the “hunting oboe”. Despite its name the English horn is not at all English. This happened most likely due to a mistranslation of the french. The Vienna classicists rarely used the English horn, but it gained general acceptance with Berlioz and Wagner. A Modern English Horn’s timbre is clearly distinguishable from the lighter timbre of the oboe. The instrument originally had an angular shape, but the straight form took over quickly. It is larger then an oboe, the mouthpiece is extended with a slightly bent metal crook that holds the reed. An English horn reed is thicker then an oboe, and there is a greater stream of air required. The third oboist of the orchestra usually plays the English horn. It’s a transposing instrument whose part in the score is written a fifth higher then it sounds. So when an oboist switches to an English horn, the fingering corresponds to the notes on the page, as it does on the oboe, but the notes are actually produced are a fifth lower. A modern day English horn player is Thomas Stacy who plays in the New York Philharmonic.
The bassoon is a double reed woodwind instrument. It has a range of a B flat 2 octaves bellow middle C in bass clef to E flat two octaves above middle C in treble clef. The bassoon is built in the key of C an octave lower then the oboe. The bassoon has a 9’6’’ long, conical bore which curves around a “U” tube at the bottom and goes back up. The top of the instrument projects above the players’ head; to project the sound up out of the orchestra. The bassoon is a relatively new being made in 1574. It was originally designed as a straight instrument that was played by standing on a ladder! The bassoon has been used in the orchestra since the Baroque period. The early composers used the bassoon mainly as a bass doubling instrument, supporting the cello line. Gradually composers began to hear players that were capable doing more with the instrument, and, began to write much more interesting parts for the bassoon. The bassoon was often given the “buffo” role, like the bass singing a rapid patter in comic opera. A modern day bassoon player is Leonard Hindell who plays in the New York Philharmonic.
The Contrabassoon is a double reed woodwind instrument. It has a range of B flat in bass clef 3 octaves lower than middle C to an E flat bellow middle C. The Contrabassoon is built in the key of C, an octave bellow the bassoon. In 1879 Wihelm Heckel designed a Contrabassoon that was able to fulfill all orchestral requirements. Before this the instrument had many imperfections. The major problem in the construction of the Contrabassoon was the large distances between the tone holes. These distances, though, had to be compensated for through the use of rods and keys. The Contrabassoon descends a third bellow the lowest note of the string bass. A modern day Contrabassoon player is Arlen Fast who plays in the New York Philharmonic.
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