Student Theses

Date of Award

Spring 6-2-2022

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)





First Advisor

William Rothstein


This thesis is an exploration of how tuning practices can influence compositional practice, focusing on the way temperament can provide new insights to a close reading of keyboard music by Johann Jakob Froberger (1616–67), a transitional figure between a predominantly meantone-oriented musical environment of the 17th century and the well temperament of the 18th century. Many scholars have pointed to Froberger’s characteristic chromaticism and experimentation with novel keys as indicative of his desire to compose beyond the restrictions of meantone tuning and towards well temperament. In an effort to move away from this oft-cited teleological narrative from unequal to equal, my analyses attend to the ways that Froberger works with the boundaries of meantone, ultimately arguing that a meantone tuning is integral to Froberger’s musical language. Transgressions of these boundaries, as we shall soon see, involve mistunings that result in shocking discordances, a rough aural quality that Froberger exploits to craft structures of expectation in the dimension of discordance that operate independently of harmony.



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