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Top B, or Not Top B, and Is That the Question? Creating a new repertoire of idiomatic and challenging arrangement for historical wind instruments

Percival, R. (2021). Top B, or Not Top B, and Is That the Question? Creating a new repertoire of idiomatic and challenging arrangement for historical wind instruments. (Unpublished Doctoral thesis, Guildhall School of Music and Drama)

Abstract

The six-part Harmonie of clarinets, horns and bassoons, despite being a popular ensemble in the 18th century, has only a small repertoire suitable for modern concert performance. The logical solution is to extend the tradition of arrangement associated with the ensemble to expand its repertoire. However, previous approaches to scoring for historical winds and brass by modern editors and arrangers have often resulted in writing that is unidiomatic to the instruments.

In this project, I use practice-based research and analysis to develop a new approach to writing for historical wind instruments. Analysis of examples of historical writing for the clarinet, horn and bassoon, and examination of historical practices by the leading creators of Harmoniemusik in the early-19th century is used to understand how to write idiomatically for the instruments. Study of virtuoso solo repertoire from the same period is used as the basis for expanding the range of possibilities to allow the arrangement of more challenging works than was typical at the time.

The possibilities raised by this study are then explored and developed through three substantial new arrangements of works by Mozart and Beethoven. Each arrangement illustrates different facets of the arranging process and the creative re-imagining of the source work, further elaborated by accompanying commentaries. I argue that this method of research offers a new understanding of the capabilities of historical wind instruments that is of future value to both composers and musicologists.

Publication Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Subjects: M Music and Books on Music > M Music
Departments: School of Communication & Creativity > Performing Arts > Music
School of Communication & Creativity > School of Communication & Creativity Doctoral Theses
Doctoral Theses
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