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The oboe is the highest pitched double reed instrument; it is played by blowing through two precisely cut, small pieces of cane bound together at the base.
The finished, bound reed is inserted into the instrument and vibrates as air is forced between the two pieces (causing the air within the instrument to vibrate as well), and the player uses both hands to press down on the keys to open and close the holes and change the pitch. The sound of the oboe is very distinctive and versatile, and it is also the instrument that the entire orchestra uses to tune; listen out for the oboe playing “A” when an orchestra tunes before a performance!
The Cor Anglais is part of the Woodwind family.
The cor anglais, known as the English horn in America, is neither English nor a horn!
This instrument, closely related to the oboe, also uses a double reed, and is played in the same manner. It's longer than an oboe and its tube is a bit wider. Because it’s larger, the pitch range is lower than the oboe, and oboe players will often double up as cor anglais players in an orchestra.