Oboes in popular music

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The soprano oboe (in C) and its alto version, the English horn (in F) , are instruments generally associated with art music, but they have been used sporadically in popular music recordings, generally by (often uncredited) studio musicians on recordings of specific songs.

In the late 1960s and 1970s, several bands emerged that featured oboists as members, including The Moody Blues (Ray Thomas), Henry Cow (Lindsay Cooper), New York Rock & Roll Ensemble (Martin Fulterman and Michael Kamen), Roxy Music (Andy Mackay), Electric Light Orchestra (Roy Wood), Wizzard (Roy Wood), and Japan (Mick Karn). The oboists in these bands generally used the oboe as a secondary instrument, not playing it on every song. Japan and Roxy Music, however, did use the oboe quite frequently. However, Iva Davies, the frontman of the Australian rock band Icehouse (formerly "Flowers) studied oboe at the Sydney Conservatorium and played both oboe and cor anglais in many of the band's songs.

Since the 1990s, the oboe has been used in rock most notably by Sigur Rós (played by Kjartan Sveinsson), as well as by indie rock musician Sufjan Stevens (who also plays cor anglais and often overdubs both instruments on his albums). Jarlaath, the vocalist of the French gothic metal band Penumbra, plays the oboe in a number of the band's songs, as does Robbie J. de Klerk, the vocalist of the Dutch melodic doom/death metal band Another Messiah. In America, a band called Hoboe defines itself as a rock band showcasing amplified oboe, fronted by oboist Zen Ben.[1]. The band Liminal Phase uses amplified oboe, played by Lisa Hirst Carnes along with bassoon, harmonium, cello, keys, guitar, drums & noise to create an electronic chamber sound.

Below is a historical sampling of songs and albums in which the oboe (ob) or English horn (Eh) is featured:


  1. ^ Berling, Michael (29 September 2016). "Rubycon". Voices in the Net.