The technique of playing the cor anglais is the same as playing the oboe, but it is tuned a perfect fifth lower, having a range from the E flat below middle C to the A a thirteenth above middle C. It is perceived to have a mellower and more plaintive tone than the oboe. Its appearance differs from the oboe in that the reed is attached to a slightly bent metal tube and the bell has a bulbous shape.
Despite its name, the instrument is not thought to be English in origin. A common explanation of the name is that it is a corruption of the French cor anglÚ, meaning bent horn, although there is no certainty that this is the case.
There is no such thing as a dedicated cor anglais player. Instead, oboists will double on the cor anglais, just as flutists double on the piccolo.
There are very few solo pieces for the instrument, although the timbre of the instrument makes it well suited to the introduction of expressive, melancholic solos in the slow movements of orchestral works. Famous examples include: