Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Music


School of Music

First Advisor

Stephen Lias

Second Advisor

Alexander Amato

Third Advisor

Kathryn Fenton

Fourth Advisor

Robert Allen


Composers continually seek new timbres and sonorities to bend to their will. The early music revival of the twentieth century has resurrected dozens of instruments that have gone unutilized in contemporary composition for centuries. The historically-informed-performance movement has now evolved to a point where early instruments and period performance techniques can add extraordinary new characters to twenty-first century compositions. This thesis explores how composers effectively utilize early instruments like the viola da gamba, harpsichord, lute, and recorder in their compositions.

The document also contains interview transcripts from eight composers and performers, including Nico Muhly, Liam Byrne, Martha Bishop, David Loeb, Yukimi Kambe, Sarah Mead, Heather Spence, and Lisa Terry. Finally, my original composition for an octet of four saxophones and four viola da gambas realizes the research and implements the advice sought during the interview process and is accompanied by an analysis of core concepts.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.



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