Dissertation Index

Author: Cutler, Timothy S.

Title: Orchestration and the Analysis of Tonal Music: Interaction between Orchestration and Other Musical Parameters in Selected Symphonic Compositions, c. 1785-1835

Institution: Yale University

Begun: September 1997

Completed: March 2000


The objective of this dissertation is to demonstrate that an orchestral composition cannot be fully understood without examining its scoring. Orchestration is a significant topic in a variety of scholarly fields, but music theory has been slow to recognize its importance. It is essential to consider the timbral and textural aspects of an orchestral composition. However, one cannot study the parameter of orchestration in isolation. Meaningful analysis is only achieved by examining orchestration in conjunction with other musical parameters. It is the interaction between scoring and other parameters--form, tonal structure, motivic development, register, voice leading, etc.--that offers the most interesting insights.

This dissertation illustrates the analytical relevance of orchestration through the study of symphonic compositions by Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert, and Mendelssohn. The first part of the dissertation is devoted to theoretical and historical issues, including the question of whether orchestration can be codified. The many roles and guises of orchestration are investigated. Historical issues, such as the evolution of instruments and orchestral ensembles, are discussed, and documentation is cited which suggests that instrumentation is far more than a decorative afterthought in the compositional process. Because the analytical approach employed in this study is largely Schenkerian, one chapter is devoted to Heinrich Schenker's analytical conception of orchestration, drawn from his writings and analyses.

Later chapters focus on analytical demonstrations of the interaction between orchestration and other musical parameters. Compositions analyzed include Haydn's Symphonies nos. 83, 99, and 100 and "Chaos" from The Creation, Mozart's Symphony no. 40, Beethoven's Symphonies nos. 1, 3, 5, 6, and 9, Schubert's Symphony no. 8, and Mendelssohn's Symphony no. 4 and "Hebrides" Overture.

Keywords: orchestration, instrumentation, scoring, Schenker, Schenkerian analysis, tonal analysis, Beethoven, Haydn, Schubert, Mendelssohn


I. Why does Music Theory Ignore Orchestration?

II. Historical Considerations

III. Heinrich Schenker's Analytical Conception of Orchestration

IV. Introductory Theoretical Topics

V. Orchestration and Foreground Relationships

VI. Orchestration and the Background


Dr. Tim Cutler
Austin College
900 N. Grand
Suite 61634
Sherman, TX 75090
(903) 813-2462

     Return to dissertations