The Oboe’s oversized friend

Not content with learning one instrument, the inevitability of this project is that there’s always so much more to discover – welcome the oboe d’amore!

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Thankfully the d’amore has the same fingerings as the oboe but I have been experiencing many difficulties which might be interesting to anyone wanting to give it a try. The oboe d’amore is a minor 3rd lower than the oboe so is in the key of ‘A’. J.S.Bach was a great fan of it because it could play much more easily in certain keys than the oboe and has a darker, more woody character. If you can play baroque oboe it’s almost a given that you should be able to double on oboe d’amore!

The main challenge is the sheer size of it….

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If you have small hands then tough luck. The spacings between holes are much wider than the oboe so you have to stretch out and make sure that you’re completely covering the holes. The first few times I tried it involved lots of squeaking as I couldn’t get the hang of the new hand shape and the basic intonation is slightly different as well. You have to be much more flexible with embouchure and give loads of support in the higher octave with a few more ‘false’ fingerings for safety. All the basic premises are the same but everything needs more accuracy to avoid bum notes!

To get a feel for the instrument I began working on Bach’s Concerto in A major BWV1055 (played here by Lucas Navarro) which was potentially a step too far initially! Even basic things like half-holing D and Eb became more of a challenge. But with more practice this will change fast and I’ll be able to explore the gorgeous colours the instrument can create.


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