As music becomes more polyphonic the inner parts of the orchestra become more and more emancipated.
His music is highly polyphonic, and modern in its instrumental treatment throughout.
They are an extension of the principle on which gongs and cymbals and all instruments without notes of determinate pitch are employed in otherwise polyphonic music.
Bach's conception of the function of an instrument is that it holds a regular part in a polyphonic scheme; and his blending of tones is like the blending of colours in a purely decorative design.
This is of constant occurrence in classical pianoforte music, in which thick chords are subjected to polyphonic laws only in their top and bottom notes, while the inner notes make a solid mass of sound in which numerous consecutive fifths and octaves are not only harmless but essential to the balance of tone.
Far greater polyphonic detail of another kind is no doubt possible, but it requires far longer time for its expression.
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.
The point at issue was, that neither in the polyphonic school, in which Zarlino was educated, nor in the later monodic school, of which his recalcitrant pupil, Vincenzo Galilei, was the most redoubtable champion, could those proportions be tolerated in practice, however attractive they might be to the theorist in their mathematical aspect.
Accordingly, Palestrina and his great contemporaries and predecessors treated the Gloria and Credo in a style midway in polyphonic organization and rhythmic breadth between that of the elaborate motet (adopted in the Sanctus) and the homophonic reciting style of the Litany.