A study of the early 18th-century French Baroque musical style
Henke, Stephanie Morgan
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The oboe has a long-established and deeply rooted tradition in France. Despite the oboe's roots in the French Baroque and the wealth of French Baroque music playable on oboe, this music is performed rarely by modern oboists. Instead, the Baroque repertory of the modern oboist is dominated by German and Italian composers. One possible explanation for the absence of French Baroque music from the standard oboe repertoire is the convention of the French symphonie. Symphonie is a generic term used to describe any instrumental piece in which the number of instruments per part and the specific instruments used were left entirely to the performer's discretion. Although a specific repertoire for the oboe never developed in France during the Baroque period, French Baroque oboists undoubtedly would have accessed the huge body of compositions written en symphonie. Since most modern performers are specialists on a single instrument, most would likely choose to play music that was composed specifically for the unique idiomatic and timbral characteristics of their instrument. However, such an approach can cause modern oboists to overlook the music of the oboe's earliest roots. After all, the modern oboe was a French Baroque invention, developed from the shawm by French musicians. Instead of excluding French Baroque music for its overly-inclusive instrumentation, I would argue that a new and much more flexible approach is needed if we are to ever fully understand and appreciate the earliest musical heritage of the oboe in its definitive form. The purpose of this study is to present and demonstrate a performance practice guide to French Baroque composer Jacques-Martin Hotteterre le Romain's Troisième suitte de pièces à deux dessus, pour les flûtes traversières, flûtes à bec, hautbois, et muzettes, Op. 8. This study provides modern oboists with valid performance practice instructions and concrete examples of ornamentation that can then serve as a basis for further study and performance.