The instrumentation of solo combinations, is one of the largest and most detailed subjects in the.
There is some reason to hope that the day of these misconceptions is passed; although there is also some reason to fear that on other grounds the present era may be known to posterity as an era of instrumentation comparable, in its gorgeous chaos of experiment and its lack of consistent ideas of harmony and form, only to the monodic period at the beginning of the 17th century, in which no one had ears for anything but experiments in harmonic colour.
- The difference between decorative and symphonic instrumentation is admirably shown by Gluck.
To write an account of symphonic instrumentation in any detail would be like attempting a history of emotional expression; and all that we can do here is to point out that the problem which was, so to speak, shelved by the polyphonic device of the continuo, was for a long time solved only by methods which, in any hands but those of the greatest masters, were very inartistic conventions.
Similar principles apply in infinite detail to the treatment of wind instruments, and we must never lose sight of them in speculating as to the reasons why the genius of Beethoven was able to carry instrumentation into worlds of which Haydn and Mozart never dreamt, or why, having gone so far, it left anything unexplored.