His voice had been likened to an oboe, the Elizabethan hautboy .
The hautbois or ‘highwood’ as the direct translation would have it, came to us through its stages of hautboy , dropping the ‘h’ and altering vowels to oboe.
His power over his instrument is surprising; the tones he draws from it might be thought those of the sweetest flageolet and hautboy , and sometimes of the human voice.
Shakespeare's stage directions call for ' hautboys ', the English form of the French hautbois, meaning literally 'high wood'.
Other timbres no longer carry their original significance: cornets for dignitaries not high enough in rank to merit trumpets, hautboys for banquets, consorts of flutes or recorders for rituals of death and transfiguration.