The oboe is a double-reed instrument and member of the woodwind family. Oboes are usually made of wood, but there are also oboes made of synthetic materials.
The oboe is commonly used in concert bands, orchestras, chamber music, film music, in some genres of folk music, and as a solo instrument, and is occasionally heard in jazz, rock music, pop music, and popular music.
The word 'oboe' comes from the word 'hautbois' meaning 'high' and 'wood' in French. The modern spelling came about in the 18th century. This name was also used for its predecessor, the shawm, from which the basic form of the hautbois was derived. Major differences between the two instruments include the division of the hautbois into three sections, or joints (which allowed for more precise manufacture), and the elimination of the pirouette, the wooden ledge below the reed which allowed players to rest their lips.
Music for the standard oboe is written in concert pitch (i.e. it is not a transposing instrument), and the instrument has a soprano range, usually from B♭3 up to G6. Orchestras normally tune to a concert A played by the oboe.
How to play
Unlike the clarinet or saxophone, the oboe uses a double reed. The sound is made by blowing a stream of air into the mouthpiece (known as embouchure), and pressing down on the instrument's keys. This changes the pitch by opening and closing holes on the instrument, creating higher or lower notes. Varying the air flow into the instrument can affect the pitch, volume, and type of sound created. The standard Baroque oboe is generally made of boxwood and has three keys: a "great" key and two side keys (the side key is often doubled to facilitate use of either the right or left hand on the bottom holes). In order to produce higher pitches, the player has to "overblow", or increase the air stream to reach the next harmonic.