Oboe Da Cassia

Name: Oboe Da Caccia.
Type: Aerophones > Reeds > Double > Shawms.
Hornbostel-Sachs No#: 422.112
Country: Italy.
Region: South Europe & Mediterranean

Description: The oboe da caccia, pronounced as [in IPA: ˈɔːboe da ˈkattʃa]; literally means “hunting oboe” in Italian. It is also sometimes referred to as an oboe da silva. It is a classified as a shawm having double reeds. It is pitched a fifth below the oboe and it was used primarily during the Boroque period of European classical music. It has a curved tube, and in the case of instruments by Eichentopf [and modern copies of same], a brass bell, unusual for an oboe.

The oboe da caccia is thus a transposing instrument in F. The notated range is identical to that of the soprano baroque oboe. Johann Sebastian Bach tended to favour the middle and lowest registers, however, perhaps because they are the most characteristic ones for this instrument. Its range is close to that of the cor anglais, that is from the F below middle C notated in C4 sounding in F3 to the G above the treble-staff notated to be D6 but sounding G5.

History: This instrument was likely invented by J. H. Eichtentof of Leipzig, Germany. The first dated reference to the oboe da caccia dates back to 1722. When composer Johann Friedrich Fasch ordered “Waldhatbois” from Leipzig for the court at Zerbst. The first recorded use of this instrument was on the 24th of June 1723. When the Bach aria BWV 167/3 Gottes Wort, das trüget nicht [lit trans. English: “God’s Word, that does not deceive”]. from the cantata Ihr Menschen, rühmet Gottes Liebe, BWV 167, was performed.

Construction: The oboe da caccia has a leather-covered wooden body terminating in a large wooden bell, or in the case of Eichentopf’s instruments, a flaring brass bell. There are typically two brass keys, E-flat and C. The E-flat key is normally doubled for the left hand. There are usually two twin finger-holes, G / A-flat and F / F#, similar to the soprano baroque oboe. The construction differs from that of practically all other woodwinds.

The bore and outward profiles are first created on the lathe, then a series of saw kerfs are made through the bore from the side, which is to become the inner curve. Then the instrument is bent over steam and a slat glued onto the inside curve to fix it. Any remaining lacunae in the kerfs are filled and the curved section is covered with leather. The da caccia is played with a double reed; the sound is very mellow and supple.

The oboe da caccia stands in a rather unusual relationship to the rest of the oboe family. It cannot rightly be called the precursor of the English horn, being the predominant name in North America and German-speaking countries or cor anglais – the name as used in England and France. The Oboe Da Caccia developed around the same as the English Horn.

The evolution of the English horn is more complex and less straightforward. The da caccia sounds like none of the other members of the oboe family, and no other instrument may legitimately substitute for it—although the English horn is routinely used for this purpose.

Citations: Bibliography: Cary Karp, “Structural Details of two J.H. Eichentopf Oboi da Caccia” and Reine Dahlqvist, “Taille, Oboe da Caccia and Corno Inglese”, Galpin Society Journal May 1973 ; Bruce Haynes, The Speaking Hautboy, draft 21 April 1998, pp. 72–74 ; Christoph Wolff et al., “Bach Family”, 1983 ;

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