is the range of the Cor Anglais?
shows the lowest and highest notes as they sound on the cor anglais.
All the chromatic notes in between can be played, and the lowest
note can be extended down to E flat by adding a small piece of pipe
between the bottom joint of the instrument and the bell. It takes
a few seconds to add or remove this extension so the composer must
think carefully about whether or not the E flat is required. Quarter-tones
and multiphonics can also be played, and notes can be 'bent' to
make them sharper or flatter. Some people can play notes that are
higher than C at the top, but it is inadvisable to write notes that
the majority of players will not be able to achieve.
the notes for the cor anglais are written a fifth higher than they
sound, for this is a transposing instrument. The reason for the
transposition is that the keywork system is similar to that of the
oboe but the notes come out five notes lower, because the instrument
is bigger. Thus by writing the notes a fifth higher than they actually
sound, the oboe player who plays the cor anglais does not have to
re-learn all the names of the keys on the instrument, which would
be very confusing.
lowest notes sound reedy and can be used in the orchestra to reinforce
the sound of trombones. The middle notes are soulful, eloquent,
and melancholy. They are some of the most beautiful of woodwind
sounds. The high register, however, is weak and sometimes needs
the addition of other instruments in the orchestra to help the balance
of sound. Over the whole range the timbre changes according to variances
in the dynamic level.
the sound of the cor anglais contains elements of strength, weakness,
and a melancholy eloquence that is quite unique, and which has been
an inspiration to many of the great romantic composers such as Wagner,
Sibelius, and Tchaikovsky. In the hands of a player who is sensitive
to the musical environment, the emotional impact of this instrument
is enormous: something that has never yet been captured by a digital
Vision de Paradis is an external link to an mp3 file where you can hear Geoffrey Browne play the cor anglais in a piece by Saint-Preux
Vision de Paradis