In response to my last post

So we went over the oboe’s range. I talked about what is difficult with oboe. Darn low notes. Please don’t have us trill a low B flat to low B! Give really high notes to the flutes, doggone it. (But, “Yes, we can play some high notes and see how piercing they can sound?”) Oh, and we can appear to be a bit crazy. I talked about pitch bending (they seemed to like what we can do). I talked about those long phrases we play and how it’s not all that big of a deal for us. I talked about how we spend more time on reeds than practice, or so it seems.

And I talked about how we are neurotic. We fret a lot about reeds. And we don’t dress as nicely as the flutists who play shiny instruments. And did I mention we are neurotic?

Then I warned them about our sharp knives and razor blades.

And yes, I said, “Please be nice to us.” 🙂


  1. Yeah, but you guys are in charge. If the principal oboe plays an A that’s really an A flat, the orch’s stuck with it all night!

  2. Patricia Mitchell

    I’m not sure I agree! We give the initial A, to be sure, but the brass have been known to pull the pitch up quite quickly. Often it’s the loudest who win! 🙂

  3. I have to admit that I don’t hear “sharp” nearly as well as “flat”. When I’m playing my trumpet flat (even a hair), it jumps out at me, but I can be a quarter tone sharp and not notice it till I look at my tuner…except for notes that I expect to be sharp, like most 1-2 fingerings (esp. high A). 

    Maybe that accounts for what the brass do to the pitch initially set!

  4. Patricia Mitchell

    Well, there IS that famous saying, “Better sharp than out of tune.” 😉

    We always go with the higher pitch, actually. If you have two players, one playing perfectly in tune and the other playing sharp, many listeners will say the in tune player was flat, rather than hearing the other as sharp.

    Sharp IS a problem, as it causes us to bite and pinch. Ah well. That’s life in the music biz.

  5. Not that anyone ever pays attention to our A’s! I played my first gig here in Korea tonight. I got in trouble with the clarinet player, because I tuned to 442! I thought that was safe. Apparently she wanted me to tune to 444. Geez.

  6. Patricia Mitchell

    Yikes! 444? That hurts!

    It is true, though, that a lot of folks don’t pay attention. The old “This instrument was tuned at the factory” joke is sometimes, I think, truly believed. Ah well … we keep trying.

    I’ll stick to 440, thank you very much! 🙂

  7. I don’t know what it’s like for oboists (Oboeists?-I’m never sure which it is) , but the trumpet is made out of tune at the factory! Even on the best horns the tubing is never exactly the right length to put all notes in tune with each other. Equal temperament and all that.

  8. Patricia Mitchell

    They say oboes are “tuned to 440” but of course that doesn’t make them perfectly in tune. And you have to adjust for each key … as does everyone, right? And then we have reeds. Which differ.

    That’s life.