Musicology Seminar (a)


Week 9: Period Instruments Then and Now


Essay Titles

  1. Discuss the development of the pianoforte in Europe during the nineteenth century. How does piano music of that period reflect the changes made to the instrument?

  2. The fortepiano evolved gradually from the seventeenth century until the nineteenth. Discuss how its evolution gave rise to the virtuoso pianist.

  3. Discuss the revival of the ‘fortepiano’ in the second half of the twentieth century. Should earlier versions of the pianoforte remain inventions of the past?


  1. Bombager, E. Douglas., and James Parakilas, Piano Roles: A New History of the Piano (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2002)

  2. Cole, Michael, The Pianoforte in the Classical Era (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1998)

  3. Dragulin, Stela, ‘The Pianoforte: Three Centuries of Life’, Bulletin of the Transilvania University of Brasov, Series VIII: Performing Arts, 8 (2015), 45–56

  4. Ehrlich, Cyril, The Piano: A History, rev. edn (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1990)

  5. Gill, Dominic (ed.), The Book of the Piano (Oxford: Phaidon Press, 1981)

  6. Good, Edwin M., Giraffes, Black Dragons, and other Pianos: A Technological History from Cristofori to the Modern Concert Grand, 2nd edn (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2001)

  7. Hildebrandt, Dieter, Pianoforte: A Social History of the Piano (London: Hutchinson, 1998)

  8. Isacoff, Stuart, A Natural History of the Piano: The Instrument, the Music, the Musicians from Mozart to Modern Jazz and Everything in Between (London: Souvenir Press, 2012)

  9. Kentner, Louis, Piano (London: Macdonald and Jane’s, 1976)

  10. Loesser, Arthur, Men, Women and Pianos: A Social History (London: Constable Publishers, 1990)

  11. Pollens, Stewart, The Early Pianoforte (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995)

  12. Todd, R. Larry (ed.), Nineteenth-Century Piano Music, 2nd edn (London: Routledge, 2004)

  13. Witten, David (ed.), Nineteenth-Century Piano Music: Essays in Performance and Analysis (New York and London: Garland Publishing, 1997)


Essay Title

  1. Discuss the rise and fall of the viol in England. Was its eventual obsolecence a gradual decline or sudden death?


  1. Ian Woodfield, The Early History of the Viol (Cambridge, 1984)

  2. Annette Otterstedt, The Viol: History of an Instrument, trans. Hans Reiners (Kassel, Bärenreiter, 2002)

  3. Michael Fleming and John Bryan, Early English Viols: Instruments, Makers and Music (Routledge, London and New York, 2016)

  4. Mary Remnant, English Bowed Instruments from Anglo-Saxon to Tudor Times (Oxford, 1986)

  5. D. Abbott and E. Segerman, ‘Strings in the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries’, Galpin Society Journal, 27 (1974), 48–73 (jstor)

  6. John Rutledge, ‘Towards a History of the Viol in the 19th Century’, Early Music, 12 (1984), 328–36 (jstor)

  7. Ian Payne, ‘The Provision of Teaching on Viols at Some English Cathedral Churches, c.1594–c.1645’, Chelys, 19 (1990), 3–15 (web)

  8. Mark Lindley, Lutes, Viols and Temperaments (Cambridge, 1984)

  9. H. M. Brown, ‘Notes (and Transposing Notes) on the Viol in the Early Sixteenth Century’, Music in Medieval and Early Modern Europe, ed. I. Fenlon (Cambridge, 1981), 61–78

  10. The Viola da Gamba Society: publications


Essay Title

  1. Discuss the performance techniques associated with the Baroque violin. Is there a relationship between the changes in structure in the violin and the changes in performance technique?


  1. Burton, Anthony (ed.), A Performer’s Guide to the Music of the Baroque Period (London: ABRSM, 2002)

  2. Collyer, Peter, ‘Observations from a Career in Historical Performance with a Survey of Period Instrument Specialists’, Early Music Performer, 29 (2010), 10–18

  3. Raymaekers, Wim, ‘How the F-Hole Arose: Soundhole Shapes and Bridge Position on Bowed Instruments between 1500 and 1800’, Galpin Society Journal, 71 (2018), 35–147

  4. Stowell, Robin (ed.), The Cambridge Companion to the Violin (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1992)

  5. Walls, Peter (ed.), Baroque Music (Surrey: Ashgate Publishing Ltd, 2011)

  6. ————, ‘Strings’ in Performance Practice: Music After 1600, ed. Howard Mayer Brown and Stanley Sadie (London: Macmillan Press, 1989)

  7. ————, ‘The Violin in Italy During the Baroque Period’ in The Violin, ed. Robert Riggs (New York: University of Rochester Press, 2016)

  8. Zopf, Simone Regina, ‘Critical Study of the Use of a Length Unit in the Design of 16th- to 18th-Century Italian Violins’, Journal of Cultural Heritage, Wooden Musical Instruments Special Issue (2015)


Essay Titles

  1. With reference to the music of either Claudio Monteverdi or J. S. Bach, discuss the evolution of period brass instruments.

  2. To what extent were historical players limited by comparison with their modern–day counterparts?


  1. The Cambridge Companion to Brass Instruments, ed. Trever Herbert & John Wallace (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1997) (library)

  2. F. W. Galpin, ‘The Sackbut: Its Evolution and History’, Proceedings of the Musical Association, 33 (1906–7), 1–25 (jstor)

  3. Trevor Herbert, ‘The Sackbut in England in 17th and 18th centuries’, Early Music, 18 (1990), 609–16 (jstor)

  4. Anthony Baines, Brass Instruments: Their History and Development (Oxford: Oxford University Press: 1993) (library)

  5. Don L. Smithers, The Music and History of the Baroque Trumpet Before 1721 (London: Dent, 1973) (library)

  6. Anthony Baines and Bruce Dickey, ‘Cornett’ in Grove Music Online (2001) (link)

  7. F. W. Galpin, Old English Instruments of Music: Their History and Character (London: Methuen, 1910) (library)

  8. Keith Polk, ‘The Trombone, the Slide Trumpet and the Ensemble Tradition of the Early Renaissance’, Early Music, 17 (1989), 389–97 (jstor)

  9. Keith McGowan, ‘The World of the Sackbut Player: Flat or Round?’, Early Music, 22 (1994), 441–66 (jstor)


Essay Titles

  1. Discuss Johann Sebastian Bach’s use of the oboe, the oboe d’amore and the oboe da caccia. Why did Bach write so extensively for these instruments?

  2. Discuss the reasons why both the baroque oboe and oboe d’amore were restricted in their performance abilities in Bach’s instrumental and liturgical output. To what extent did the instrumental design restrain certain tonalities and other compositional factors from being used by the composer?


  1. Hailperin, Paul, ‘Three Oboes d’Amore from the Time of Bach’, Galpin Society Journal, 28 (1975), 26–36

  2. ————, ‘Three Oboes d’Amore from the Time of Bach: Additions and Amendments’, Galpin Society Journal, 28 (1977), 153–7

  3. Bate, Phillip, The Oboe: An Outline of Its History, Development and Construction, 3rd edn. (London: Ernest Benn, 1975)

  4. Burgess, Geoffrey and Bruce Haynes, The Oboe (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 2004)

  5. Goossens, Leon and Edwin Roxburgh, Oboe, 2nd edn. (London: Macdonald, 1980)

  6. Haynes, Bruce, ‘Tonality and the Baroque Oboe’, Early Music, 7 (1979), 355–7

  7. ————, ‘Lully and the Rise of the Oboe as Seen in Works of Art’, Early Music, 16 (August 1988), 324–38

  8. ————, The Eloquent Oboe: A History of the Hautboy, 1640–1760 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001)

  9. Page, Janet K., ‘“To Soften the Sound of the Hoboy”: The Muted Oboe in the 18th and Early 19th Centuries’, Early Music, 21 (1993), 65–80

  10. Robison, John O., ‘The Lost Oboe Works of J. S. Bach’, Bach, 13 (1982), 2–5, 3–11, 30–35; 14 (1983), 22–28, 18–28

  11. ‘A Panoply of Instruments for Medieval, Renaissance, and Baroque Music’, Music Educators Journal, 65 (1979), 38-69