Music | All-Star Orchestra
- Piccolo: Interview and demonstration with Nadine Asin
- Flute: Interview and demonstration with principal Jeffrey Khaner
- E-Flat Clarinet: Interview and demonstration with Jessica Phillips Rieske
- Clarinet: Interview and demonstration with principal Jon Manasse
- Bass Clarinet: Interview and demonstration with James Ognibene
- Oboe: Interview and demonstration with principal John Ferrillo
- English Horn: Interview and demonstration with Pedro Diaz
- Bassoon: Interview and demonstration with principal Nancy Goeres
Created by All Star Orchestra.
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- At6:03, Mr. Ferillo mentions 5 or 6 reeds on his stand. Does this mean that oboe players change their reeds in the middle of performances, in the middle of different pieces? (How do they tune it, then? Seems amazingly complicated!)
My other question is how this reed vibrates? He doesn't explain it the way Mr. Manasse did. It looks like the player clamps it between their lips, how do they blow through it?(18 votes)
- During a rehearsal or a performance, an oboist will have many reeds available to play. Oboe players make their reeds prior to the rehearsal or performance, but due to factors such as the acoustical nature of the space they are playing in, the atmospheric conditions of that space (temperature, humidity, barometric pressure, etc.) or the nature/style of the pieces they are playing, they like to have an array of reeds ready from which to choose. Also, reeds are, simply, very fragile objects. They drop, they crack from temperature/humidity gradients and players will often chip them just from the motion of putting it into and pulling it out of the instrument.
“Does this mean that oboe players change their reeds in the middle of performances, in the middle of different pieces?” This really depends on the individual player and their level of experience and skill both with playing and with reed making. Some players will switch out reeds depending on the demands of the piece, while others will stay with one reed for an entire piece, if not for the entire performance.
“(How do they tune it, then? Seems amazingly complicated!)” The reeds an oboist has ready to play will all be tuned to the same standard while the reed is being made. (Intonation is one thing that players of all instruments, not just oboe, want to be rock solid, with very little variation.) So, in essence, much of the tuning is already done before the player even enters the hall. If the oboist is switching out reeds, he/she is looking for very fine micro-adjustments for all of these factors.
The oboe reed is a double reed. It has two pieces of cane that are tied together and form an oval shaped opening. The two pieces of cane vibrate against each other and are held in the players mouth with a "double-lip" embouchure. The act of putting air into the oboe is similar to that of the clarinet, but oboists use more of a pressure differential to get the sound, as opposed to a flute or sax, which really is about volume of air (how much, not the level). Good questions, by the way!(25 votes)
- How long is the shelf life of an oboe reed (assuming it's stored properly)? Can you make a reed months or years ahead of the time you need it and have it play as well as it did when it was first made? Speaking of "stored properly" how is a reed supposed to be stored?
How long does a reed last in use?(10 votes)
- As an oboist myself, I would say that it definitely depends on how much you play or practice. For example, when I play 4 hours a day, a reed only lasts about a week. However, when I practice only an hour a day, the reed can last a month. Also, it depends on the environment and also how easy it is to play your oboe.(8 votes)
- how does the weather effect the reed(5 votes)
- Do they have saxes in orchestras?(4 votes)
- They are rarely seen as a symphonic instrument, but there are some rare pieces where the saxophone is essential, but for the average orchestra you would usually never see any kind of saxophone(4 votes)
- Why do most woodwind instruments use African wood?
Is this the case?(4 votes)
- Most woodwinds will use African wood that's often referred to as grenadilla. It's preferred because it's one of the strongest woods out there which is important to resist cracking. There are also other exotic woods used for instruments like rosewood and cocobolo. They might have sweeter sounds but are softer woods, more susceptible to cracking. For most people, Grenadilla is to the preferred choice.(4 votes)
- these musicians are the best at what they do in the USA, right? it's refreshing to hear they are still humble when the oboe man said he isn't as good as the original but does his best!(4 votes)
- "Better" is a relative term, if you know what I mean. At some points it's clear that someone is better, but at other times it really depends on the situation. But you should never assume that you are the best at something, because someone will probably beat you. So yes, it is nice to hear that this man is being humble.(2 votes)
- can the oboe come apart like a clarinet(3 votes)
- Yes, just like a clarinet.
The reed is removable, and the rest collapses into 3 parts, the top joint, the bottom joint, and the bell at the bottom.(3 votes)
- how come the oboe players have to make their own reeds and clarinet and saxophone players don't? I would imagine that it is quite difficult to make the reeds(3 votes)
- Most professional oboe players will make their own reeds so as to have as much control over all aspects of playing as possible. Since there is a monetary aspect to this, they can also, possibly, save some money in the process. This is a matter of debate because oboe/bassoon reed making equipment is very expensive.
I know many sax and clarinet players who do make their own reeds. There are fewer variables, but as with double reed players, they like to have as much control of what the reed will do as possible.(1 vote)
- At6:14-6:24, what symphony was the orchestra playing?(2 votes)
- I currently play clarinet, but am going to switch to oboe in a year. Will that be a hard switch? I heard once you learn clarinet, it's easier to play oboe. and approximately how much does it cost a year on reeds?(2 votes)
- The hardest thing will be getting used to the oboe embouchure. I went from sax (which is similar to clarinet) to oboe and had a hard time undoing the "smiley" nature of the embouchure. For oboe you need everything to be more forward and rounder. My reeds are $25 each and I go through about two a month. But when you first start they will last longer since you won't have enough endurance to play long.(2 votes)
(classical music) - This instrument is an oboe. In French it's O-bwa and that means high wood in French. And it's a high instrument, tends to play the soprano role in a wind section. And it's a double reed instrument. This is a reed, has two blades. Like a bassoon, except this is the high double reed, the bassoon is the low double reed. It's made of granadillo wood, which is a North African wood. It's non-buoyant. The European ships of the 18th century use to get blocks of this and use it as ballast. If you put this in a pan of water it would sink like a rock. One of the more difficult aspects of learning this instrument is learning to make this reed. You can certainly buy them but if you are serious, even at a high school level, you need to learn to make these. These are made from a wood called cane, very much like what you have in caned chairs, like a bamboo that grows all around the Mediterranean. There's good cane, there's bad cane, saxophones, clarinets, bassoons, we all use the same material but in different sizes. So the craft of learning to make these is very much part of this. Very much part of it. There's some people that are very good at tootling this, but not quite as skilled at doing this. And unfortunately, you really gotta be able to do both. There's a very wide range of reeds that you need. You need light ones when you're playing soft, you need heavy ones when you're playing loud. And so we're constantly changing. And also by the way, as the weather changes, the reed changes. So we are constantly making them, constantly making sure we have backups. It's one of the tricky things about it. And you know, very often we'll say, you thought this was good, you should've seen the one that got away. (oboe music) The wonderful thing about the oboe, is that it was, in terms of the great symphonic composers, one of their favorite singing instruments. They loved to give lyrical solos to the oboe. And also the oboe was one of those instruments that they often put at a juncture between one section and one with a different character. Very often an oboe solo is the transition point for that. And there's something about that moment that's very exciting and very thrilling to do. (classical music) (oboe music) Jerry Schwartz called me up and told me right upfront some of the repertoire we were going to be doing for this. Certainly two of the most beautiful, most delicate and most difficult lyrical solos, are the famous solo in Tchaikovsky four. (oboe music) Slow movement of Tchaikovsky four is just a famous Russian folk tune. And very delicate, not easy to, it took me a number of years to really feel like I was doing it well. The other great solo is the one from Shostakovich five, which I must say was a particular specialty of my teacher's, John de Lancie. And I must have heard him on half a dozen occasions play this with Eugene Ormandy. And there was something about the way he did that, time just stood still. It was a cool, beautiful, elegant, I could never hope to match it. But I'm doing my best. (oboe music) To play Shostakovich five or Tchaikovsky four they both require special things. Shostakovich five is high, requires something that responds very well and holds the pitch in the upper register well. Tchaikovsky four, is in the other direction. Lies on the treble clef and you have to play low. It needs to be very flexible. So every single solo has, and I, you know my colleagues will tell you, they'll see five or six reeds sitting on my stand in any one moment. Not only as a backup, but you know, to give me the best possible range of choices. (classical music) 30 years ago, it was harder to get people that could make reeds and teach at a lower school level. So I was actually started on the flute and switched to the oboe around 8th grade. And if you think if somebody said, an oboist is a nerd, imagine a young persons who's playing the flute and saying to the kids on the school bus, my mom says that if I play the flute really well, someday I can play the oboe. And it was an insidious plot from the age I think of three, or four, or five, my mom would be playing recordings and she'd say, Johnny, you hear that, that's an oboe, wouldn't you like to play that. (classical music) The passion to play music and start very early, I remember when I was seven and my mom was teaching a music appreciation class and she dropped the needle on Brahms' second piano concerto and I you know, they talk about kids needing education, but I just knew from the first second I heard it, I was just was one of the most exciting things that I'd ever heard. But when you really start getting the sense, you know I may really do this, I'd say, you know, although I started at a age 13, by age 14, I was having my first orchestra experiences and the wonderful Greater Boston Youth Symphony and to sit surrounded by musicians playing this music is unbelievably exciting. It's fun. I have the same fun now, at my age, that I did when I was 14 and first started. I'm very, very lucky to be doing this. (classical music)