The oboe is a soprano woodwind instrument made from ebonite, plastic or metal. It has 16 to 20 side holes. Of these, six are directly under the player's fingers and the remainder are controlled by intricate mechanisms - a refinement added in the 19th century.

The double-reed principle of the oboe, though acoustically very complex and quite difficult for the player to master, is one that can be traced back to ancient history. The characteristic 'reedy' sound has been described as being perhaps the most tender and expressive in all wind music.

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