Beginning Oboe Students, Step Nine- Dynamics

Step Nine-Dynamic markings-crescendo, diminuendo, piano, mezzo forte, and forte

One of the most powerful markings in all of music are the dynamic markings that include crescendo, diminuendo, piano, mezzo forte, and forte.   Oboists have to work  at dynamics because the oboe is conical-large at the bottom and small at the top.

The challenge is to keep the pitch steady on all notes of a crescendo and diminuendo.  Starting a single note softly and making a gradual crescendo for five counts followed by a diminuendo for five counts and holding the pitch of this single note steady takes practice.

As you crescendo you are opening the reed and pushing more air at a faster speed; however, when you diminuendo you are decreasing the volume of air but still pushing the air as the reed opening closes.  As you play louder,  the pitch tends to go lower or flatter.  As you play softer, the pitch tends to go higher or sharper.

In book I there are many examples of playing piano and quickly changing your dynamic to forte and the reverse.  Oboists struggle to play piano in the lower register and soft in the higher registers.  Again, this is due to the conical shape of the oboe.

First oboe parts in band and orchestra tend to include solos in the upper register with melodic forte playing.  Second oboe parts tend to be in the lower register and beautify the first oboe part.  It is important that the second oboe part does not sound louder than the first oboe part.  Both parts are important in small and large ensembles.  Sometimes young players mistake the importance of the second oboe part.  It is the part that make the music more beautiful.

Oboists are always look for musical opportunities to beautify the sound.  Playing the written dynamics is one of the most powerful opportunities for the oboist to achieve this goal; however, to do dynamics well it takes ongoing practice.

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