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The Cor Anglais is another name for the 'English Horn' and it is a double reed instrument of the woodwind family. The Cor Anglais is closely related to the Oboe - and there are many visual similarities between the two instruments. Despite their visual similarities though, the Cor Anglais actually plays a perfect fifth lower than the Oboe - so the instruments create quite different sounds. The Cor Anglais is also one and a half times larger than the Oboe, making it one of the longest woodwind instruments. Many Oboe players also play the Cor Anglais, and vice versa - because although the pitch is different the two instruments are played in a similar way and require a similar skill set. Many Cor Anglais players start their musical journey playing the Oboe and decide to cross onto the Cor Anglais as an additional challenge and to have more playing opportunities in orchestras and ensembles.
Like some other woodwind instruments the Cor Anglais is played by holding it upright and blowing through the double reed. The double reed is a tricky mouthpiece to master, and this does make the Cor Anglais one of the harder woodwind instruments to master.
Due to the shape of the bell, it can produce a different timbre, with many people assessing the Cor Anglais tone as more somber than the oboe. Like most woodwinds it has many holes in its body, which are manipulated with the fingers to produce different notes and sounds.
The Cor Anglais is mostly an orchestral instrument, found in woodwind sections, or as part of an ensemble. It can often blend into the music of the Bassoon, and many people often mistake it for a bassoon or an Oboe. It is also found as part of chamber choirs. The first orchestral par for the Cor Anglais is found in the Vienna version of Niccolò Jommelli's opera Ezio dating from 1749.
There are few solo pieces for the instrument, but mostly it is used in melodies in slow orchestra pieces because it can sound very somber compared with its other woodwind family.
Some famous Cor Anglais solos are:
If you are looking to purchase a Cor Anglais and need help or guidance, our musical experts here at Dawkes will be happy to help. We know how important a musical purchase is, and we can ensure you choose the right instrument and brand for you.