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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Woodwind treatment in the early ballets of Jean-Baptiste Lully Semmens, Richard Templar

Abstract

The seventeenth century represents a crucial stage In the development and evolution of woodwind instruments. Older instruments, such as the crumhorn, rauschpfeif and, in France, the hautbois de Poitou and the musette became more or less obsolete In that century. On the other hand, such woodwinds as the bassoon, oboe, flute and the recorder underwent significant remodel lings — both structural and tonal -- from c. 1640 to c. 1660. It is generally agreed that the changes were effected in France, where, under the auspices of the Grande Ecurie du Roi, woodwind Instruments traditionally had enjoyed a great popularity. Theoretical sources describing woodwinds are completely lacking during the critical period of transition from the older instruments, such as those discussed In Marin Mersenne's Harmonle Universelle (1636), to their more modern counterparts, such as the oboes and recorders of Frei1lon-Poncein's La Veritable Maniere d'apprendre a jouer en percection du Hautbois, de la Flute et du Flageolet (1700). As a result, the nature of the remodelled instruments, when they first appeared in Paris, has remained difficult to ascertain. This thesis attempts to come to terms with four of the remodelled woodwinds — the bassoon, the oboe, the flute and the recorder - by observing the treatment they received in the early ballets (that Is, those of 1657-1670) of Jean-Baptiste Lully. The four chapters, each of which is devoted to a single Instrument, divide themselves into two sections. The first part of each chapter puts the instrument under consideratlon into historical perspective, and describes the nature of its remodelling. In the second section the musical sources are analyzed, and conclusions concerning the use of the woodwind are made. In the absence of encyclopedic descriptions of woodwinds at the time of their remodelling, the early ballets of Lully assume especial importance. Through this medium it is possible to observe how the instruments were first used. Knowing how they were employed provides information which would be otherwise lacking.

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