April 23, 2014

Finding That Great Oboe Sound

So, you’re searching for that perfect oboe sound. But do you know what you are really searching for?

Many words are used to describe the sound of the oboe.

  •     Light
  •     Dark
  •     Bright
  •     3 dimensional
  •     Heavy
  •     Reedy
  •     Nasal

Take your pick.

The most important aspect which determines how oboe sound develops is what you have “in your ear.”

It is a very interesting thing to see when an accomplished oboist sounds the same no matter what reed he plays on.

I remember when I was younger listening to a very famous oboist pick up a students oboe and reed, play on it, and sound exactly the same as always. The sound seemed to come from somewhere other than just the reed.

Most oboists develop a sound concept at an early stage of playing, mostly conforming to what they are accustomed to heating at the time. It isn’t until later that one begins to understand what is happening.

The process of “finding your sound” can take a long time, but it isn’t that difficult.

If you’re a bit confused over what you want to sound like, just take it step-by-step. Listen to some recordings of some great oboists. Try and get that oboe sound in your ear, and imitate it.

Keep in mind to be aware of what it is you like or dislike about a particular oboist’s sound. But most importantly,

Practice, practice, practice.

Tons of long tones. This is the best exercise that you can do. Always relax and let the reed vibrate. Think about bringing out the lower overtones in your sound instead of cutting out the higher ones. Always support the air column well.

Here are some good long tone exercises that will help you with this. Don’t get frustrated! A good sound, just like a good wine needs time to mature and develop.

It will happen.

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