21st Century Oboe
Christopher Redgate & the Howarth-Redgate Oboe
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Ranges of the Various Instruments of the family:

NB each of these ranges is the written range of the instrument followed by the sounding range - for further information of the difference see the Transposing Instruments section below.

If you are interest is in the extended top rang of the oboe then go to Range Development and you will find fingerings, ranges and a discussion of how to write for the instruments at the top of the range.

The oboe family is a much larger group than people generally realise and comprises the following:


  • Musette
  • Oboe
  • Oboe d'amore
  • Cor anglais
  • Bass oboe
  • Hecklephone

The Musette:

The musette exists in two forms one in Eb and one in F. There are not many of these instruments in existence - I own one (an Eb version by Patricola)  and as far as I am aware there is only one other in the UK.


The range of the instrument is from B just below the cleff to top G. These are the written pitches and so sounding pitches are a minor third higher for the Eb instrument and a perfect fourth higher for the F version.


The Oboe:

The range of the oboe is open to some discussion. Most oboes begin at the Bb below the staff (though there is one model that goes down to the A). The upper range is the really debatable area. I suggest that in orchestral writing for professional performers you do not go above A6 unless you know your performer. For solo works written for professional soloists a Bb6 should certainly be usable however it is common today to see writing up to the C7. These top two pitches, B6 and C7, in general require the teeth to be placed upon the reed. This can cause problems of control and of course a true legato is not possible if this technique is being used. I have had works written for me that ascend to the D7 - to write these pitches you need to know the performer.

A note to oboists - I have been experimenting with performing the B6 and C7 without the teeth on the reed. This is possible with enough support and of course then opens up a great range of possibilities.


The Oboe d'amore:

The oboe d'amore  is a transposing instrument in A.

The range of the instrument is from low B just below the staff up to G#6 . These are the written pitches - the sounding pitches are low G# up to E#6. I have had a couple of works written for me up to written A6 - but this is exceptional.


The Cor anglais:

Th cor anglais is also a transposing instrument in F. 

The range of the instrument is from B ( note that a few instruments have a Bb but this is not standard) to the High A6. The sounding notes are E 9 in the middle of the bass cleff up to the D above the treble staff.


Before giving the range of the lower instruments it should be noted that most performers do not own these instruments.


The Bass oboe:

The bass oboe transposes at the octave. so even though it is written in the trebble cleff like the other instruments it sounds an octave lower. Its range is from B to high G6 but of course these all sound an octave lower. The upper range is rarely used.



Like the bass oboe the Hecklephone transposes at the octave. It differs in that it has a low A - its top note is A# 6. But remember that is sounds an octave lower.

The Lupophone:

This is the most recent development in the oboe family - a super bass oboe!

It is in C and is written in the treble clef but sounds an octave lower than written. Its bottom note is the F at the bottom of the bass clef - I will own one of these very soon!