The oboe is a woodwind instrument that is - similar to the bassoon - played on a double reed, which is treated by the musician himself. The reed is made of a plant that grows in Mediterranean areas. Already in the ancient world there were instruments akin to the oboe, like the Roman tibia or Greek aulos.
The oboe is said to be one of the most complex designed wind instruments of all. The French type is the most common and most popular one. These oboes can be differed in fully-automatic and semi-automatic oboes. This is related to the octave keys: a semi-automatic oboe has two hand levers to switch between the tones; the fully-automatic oboe has only one hand lever hand, the changeover of the tones happens automatically. Another construction type is the Viennese oboe that is deeply ingrained regionally and used by the Viennese philharmonic orchestra. The Viennese oboe is different from the French one through its different diapason, so it sounds softer while playing low frequencies and sounds more pointed with richer overtones at higher frequencies. Also the Viennese education method and their interpretation style is very particular.
The oboe is used in numerous styles from classical orchestra and chamber music to jazz and rock. The british band Genesis used oboes on their early albums (e.g. ”Selling England by the Pound”). Also in metal music they are used e.g. by the French band Penumbra.
The special feature of oboes is the marginal air aperture of the double-reed, so solo parts can be blown through longer than with any other wind instrument. Because of the high pressure which the player has to maintain constantly, people of earlier times believed playing the oboe could damage the brain.