Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



Committee Chair(s)

Max F. Dalby


Max F. Dalby


From ancient times to the present, music has been composed for instrumental combinations as well as for single instruments. The manner in which these combinations were utilized depended upon current compositional practices, especially those regarding form. In the Baroque Period instrumental ensembles were formed according to the composer's discretion. The tone color embodiment of a particular musical work was set more by the composer's choice of instruments to be included in the ensemble than in his use of instruments as independent tone color sources . The Baroque composer's use of instrumental color was in this way consistent with his use of highly integrated movements, which lacked sharp contrasts, a feeling of periodicity, or antecedent-consequent phrasing. The sustaining of one mood throughout an entire movement was accomplished compositionally through the elaboration of the theme in sequential repetitions of the phrases, and orchestrationally through full ensemble scoring.

The Classical Period's concept of form was similarly reflected in its orchestrational technique. Larger works were organized into contrasting movements. These movements, in turn, were comprised of contrasting sections which themselves contained contrasting elements. A sense of unity Has maintained, in part , through the balancing of the movements within the larger work . This defining of the elements of form through the juxtaposition of contrasting phrases, sections and movements brought with it the juxtaposition of contrasting tone colors. Tone color now changed in phrase lengths. These changes served to highlight the formal elements.

In the Romantic Period the regularity of the formal aspects diminished. The desire for contrast, however, remained and received new emphasis. The tone color was changed more freely and came to be considered an element or the composition rather than something which came after, and was therefore dependent upon, the composition. Impressionism placed such importance upon the change of instrumental tone color that it could stand as the dominant element of a composition. More recently, serial composers have sought to control t one color in the same marmer as they control pitch, dynamics range and expression, so that tone color might be made to change with each note.

It can be seen, then, that through the course of recent musical history, the element of changing tone color has become more independent of other compositional aspects and that the composers of each historical period increased the rate of tone color change. While this historical precedent does not make further growth in this direction valid, it does indicate that further development in the direction of tone color independence and a further increase in the rate of change of tone color might be sought after at this time.