What are the differences between an oboe and a clarinet?

The oboe is a completely unique instrument and is in the woodwind family of musical instruments.

I read that first line and cracked up. So the clarinet is not a completely unique instrument and isn’t in the woodwind family? Hmmm?

It goes on …

It is classified as a double reed instrument, and is a descendent of the shawm. The shawm was an instrument which was popular prior to the appearance of the first baroque oboe, which was called a ‘haut bois’ or ‘high wood’ instrument.

Oboes are made of wood and, as such, produce a much stronger sound than that produced by brass wind instruments, the sound being produced by the musician blowing air through a thin double reed which is located at the upper end of the instrument.

The sound which is produced from an oboe is softer than a clarinet. The sound emanating from a clarinet is more in the high register range and, if it was to be compared with any instrument, may well easily be compared to a trumpet.

The article is longer, but I’ll leave you with that.

I hope you feel smarter now.


  1. So which is it? Oboe is softer than a clarinet but much stronger than “brass wind” instruments. I am totally confused!

  2. It’s so distressing, isn’t it? What to think, what to think ….

  3. I didn’t think ANYTHING was softer than a clarinet…when we have soft attacks together, anyhow.

  4. There IS that, dk, (And sometimes it drives me nuts … they can really make an oboist look bad. Or sound bad. Or something.)