Oboe Reed Styles: Theory and Practice
Indiana University Press, 1981 - Oboe - 212 pages
The reed is possibly the most crucial link in the chain of acoustical elements needed to produce an oboe sound. For the nearly 300 years since the appearance of the French oboe, players have painstakingly evolved this highly individualized skill. But because of their fragile nature, original historical examples of oboe reeds are practically nonexistent.
David Ledet has produced a unique study of techniques for styling oboe reeds by analyzing in detail 168 examples of reeds by 81 artists from 14 countries. Each reed is strikingly photographed both in reflected light and in silhoutte, thus clearly illustrating the relative thickness and shaping of the various sections of the reed. The precise dimensions of each example are compiled in an elaborate table.
As background to his reed survey, Ledet discusses the various aspects of tone production (respiration, articulation, embouchure, and acoustics), gives a brief history of the instrument, and offers valuable advice about pedagogical techniques. The artists' reflections on their reedmaking techniques and brief biographical sketches introduce the photographs. Ledet often refers the reader to readily available phonographic recordings that either convey the essence of an oboist's sound or suggest the singularity of a national reed style. Ledet concludes that reed styles can be classified into five major regional categories: French, American, English, Dutch, and Viennese.
The book documents examples of reedmaking by such world-renowned musicians as Robert Bloom (Bach Aria Group), Henri de Busscher (1880-1978, Los Angeles Philharmonic), Janet Craxton (Royal Opera House, London), Peter Graeme (Melos Ensemble), Harold Gomberg (New YorkPhilharmonic), John Mack (Cleveland Orchestra), Ronald Roseman (New York Woodwind Quintet and Juilliard School of Music), Ray Still (Chicago Symphony Orchestra), and the celebrated Marcel Tabuteau (1887-1966, Philadelphia Orchestra and the Curtis Institute of Music), who has exerted a greater influence on oboe playing in America than any other musician.
Ledet has been compiling data for over thirty years and notes when a player's ideas have changed over time. Since some of the artists included are now deceased, Oboe Reed Styles will be a valuable historical as well as technical record, essential for teachers, performers, and students of all ages and abilities.