Key Difference – Oboe vs Clarinet
There is a distinct difference between oboe and clarinet although both of them are members of the woodwind family. However, many people cannot tell apart an oboe from a clarinet since they are somewhat similar in appearance. The key difference between oboe and clarinet is that oboe is an instrument with a double reed and a conical bore whereas clarinet is an instrument with a single reed and a cylindrical bore.
What is an Oboe?
An oboe is a woodwind instrument with a double reed. Four components can be identified in an oboe: the bell, upper joint, lower joint and the reed. The oboe also has a conical bore, i.e., the diameter of the tube increases from beginning to end. This shape results in a clear and penetrating sound, which can be overhead over other instruments.
A person who plays the oboe is called an oboist. An oboist produces sound by blowing air through the double reed at the upper end of the instrument. This air flow forces the two reeds to vibrate together, producing sound. Oboes are most commonly played in soprano or treble range. The base oboe sounds one octave lower than the normal oboe.
Oboes are commonly used in orchestras, chamber music, concert bands, and film music. A typical orchestra may have two or three oboes. Famous composers such as Bach and Handel used oboe for their orchestral music. Composers such as Mozart, Weber, and Strauss also composed solo pieces for oboes.
What is a Clarinet?
A clarinet is a woodwind instrument with a single reed. This reed is attached to the mouthpiece and blowing through the mouthpiece makes the reed vibrate, producing sound. The body of the clarinet resembles a cylindrical tube with holes. The clarinetist (person playing the clarinet) should cover these holes with his fingers to produce musical notes. The clarinet also has a cylindrical bore, allowing its diameter to remain fairly constant throughout that length. It is this shape that gives clarinets their bright tone.
Clarinets are very versatile instruments, used in orchestras, concert bands as well as in military bands, marching bands or jazz bands. A modern symphony orchestra typically has two clarinets: a standard B flat clarinet and a slightly larger A clarinet.
All clarinets are transposing instruments, so there is no difference between the sheet music and the sound emerging from the clarinet.
What is the difference between Oboe and Clarinet?
Oboe vs Clarinet
|Oboe has a double reed.||Clarinet has a single reed.|
|Oboe has a conical bore.||Clarinet has a cylindrical bore.|
|Transposing vs Non-transposing|
|Oboe is a non-transposing instrument.||Clarinet is a transposing instrument.|
|Clarinets are used in orchestras, concert bands, military bands, marching bands, jazz bands, etc.||Oboes are commonly used in orchestras, chamber music, concert bands, and film music.|
Summary – Oboe vs Clarinet
Both oboe and clarinet are members of the woodwind family. The difference between oboe and clarinet can be observed in their structure, sound produced, and usage. Oboe is a non-transposing instrument with double reeds and a conical bore. Clarinet is a transposing instrument with a single reed and a cylindrical bore. While both are used in orchestras, oboes are rarely used in marching bands or jazz bands, unlike clarinets.
1. “Oboe modern” By Hustvedt – Own work (CC BY-SA 3.0) via Commons Wikimedia
2. “Yamaha Clarinet YCL-457II-22” By Yamaha Corporation – Yamaha Music Europe (CC BY-SA 4.0) via Commons Wikimedia