Oboe modern.jpg
An oboe
Woodwind instrument
Hornbostel–Sachs classification422.112-71
(Double-reeded aerophone with keys)
DevelopedMid 17th century from the shawm
Playing range
Oboe range2.png
Related instruments

Oboes (/ OH-boh) are a family of double reed woodwind instruments. The most common oboe plays in the treble or soprano range. Oboes are usually made of wood, but there are also oboes made of synthetic materials. A soprano oboe measures roughly 65 cm (25 12 in) long, with metal keys, a conical bore and a flared bell. Sound is produced by blowing into the reed at a sufficient air pressure, causing it to vibrate with the air column.[1] The distinctive tone is versatile and has been described as "bright".[2] When oboe is used alone, it is generally taken to mean the treble instrument rather than other instruments of the family, such as the cor anglais (English horn) or oboe d'amore.

In English, prior to 1770, the standard instrument was called a "hautbois", "hoboy", or "French hoboy" (ɔɪ/ HOH-boy; borrowed from the French name, a compound word made of haut ["high", "loud"] and bois ["wood", "woodwind"]).[3] The spelling of oboe was adopted into English c. 1770 from the Italian oboè, a transliteration of the 17th-century pronunciation of the French name. A musician who plays the oboe is called an oboist.

Today, the oboe is commonly used in concert bands, orchestras, chamber music, film music, some genres of folk music, and as a solo instrument, and occasionally heard in jazz, rock, pop, and popular music.


In comparison to other modern woodwind instruments, the treble oboe is sometimes referred to as having a clear and penetrating voice. The Sprightly Companion, an instruction book published by Henry Playford in 1695, describes the oboe as "Majestical and Stately, and not much Inferior to the Trumpet." Humorously, the sound is described in the play Angels in America as like "that of a duck if the duck were a songbird".[4] The rich timbre is derived from its conical bore (as opposed to the generally cylindrical bore of flutes and clarinets). As a result, oboes are readily audible over other instruments in large ensembles. The highest note is a semitone lower than the nominally highest note of the B clarinet. Since the clarinet has a wider range, the lowest note of the B clarinet is significantly deeper (a minor sixth) than the lowest note of the oboe.[5]

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 B3 to G6. Orchestras tune to a concert A played by the first oboe.[6] According to the League of American Orchestras, this is done because the pitch is secure and its penetrating sound makes it ideal for tuning.[7] The pitch of the oboe is affected by the way in which the reed is made. The reed has a significant effect on the sound. Variations in cane and other construction materials, the age of the reed, and differences in scrape and length all affect the pitch. German and French reeds, for instance, differ in many ways, causing the sound to vary accordingly. Weather conditions such as temperature and humidity also affect the pitch. Skilled oboists adjust their embouchure to compensate for these factors. Subtle manipulation of embouchure and air pressure allows the oboist to express timbre and dynamics.

Other Languages
Afrikaans: Hobo
Alemannisch: Oboe
العربية: أوبوا
asturianu: Oboe
azərbaycanca: Qoboy
беларуская: Габой
български: Обой
bosanski: Oboa
brezhoneg: Oboell
català: Oboè
čeština: Hoboj
dansk: Obo
Deutsch: Oboe
eesti: Oboe
Ελληνικά: Όμποε
español: Oboe
Esperanto: Hobojo
euskara: Oboe
فارسی: ابوا
français: Hautbois
Frysk: Hobo
Gaeilge: Óbó
galego: Óboe
한국어: 오보에
Hawaiʻi: Oboe
հայերեն: Հոբոյ
hrvatski: Oboa
Ido: Hoboyo
Bahasa Indonesia: Obo
interlingua: Oboe
íslenska: Óbó
italiano: Oboe
עברית: אבוב
ქართული: ჰობოი
қазақша: Гобой
Кыргызча: Гобой
latviešu: Oboja
Lëtzebuergesch: Hautbois
lietuvių: Obojus
Ligure: Oboè
magyar: Oboa
македонски: Обоа
മലയാളം: ഓബോ
မြန်မာဘာသာ: အိုဘိုး
日本語: オーボエ
norsk: Obo
norsk nynorsk: Obo
occitan: Clarin
oʻzbekcha/ўзбекча: Goboy
polski: Obój
português: Oboé
română: Oboi
Runa Simi: Uwuy pinkuyllu
русский: Гобой
Scots: Oboe
Seeltersk: Oboe
Simple English: Oboe
slovenčina: Hoboj
slovenščina: Oboa
српски / srpski: Обоа
srpskohrvatski / српскохрватски: Oboa
suomi: Oboe
svenska: Oboe
தமிழ்: ஓபோ
ไทย: โอโบ
Türkçe: Obua
українська: Гобой
Tiếng Việt: Ô-boa
中文: 雙簧管