Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Postgraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2007-2008 (archived)

Module MUSI40230: Orchestration, Arranging and Transcription

Department: Music

MUSI40230: Orchestration, Arranging and Transcription

Type Open Level 4 Credits 30 Availability Available in 2007/08


  • None


  • None

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None


  • This module provides advanced training for students in music writing for ensemble and an in-depth appreciation of the scoring techniques used in classic ensemble repertory.


  • This module will develop the skills necessary to be come a competent orchestrator and arranger, with opportunities to specialise in particular fields (e.g. brass or wind bands). In any one year the following skills will be covered:
  • Study of individual instruments, their range, colour and the main orchestral families
  • Scoring techniques (e.g. focusing on brass, wind and percussion)
  • Voicing of harmonies, textures and timbres
  • Transposition and the conventions of scoring for different ensembles
  • Orchestration of piano pieces
  • Arrangement of works from other media (e.g. strings, choral works)
  • The practice of transcription in relation to orchestration and arranging
  • Use of Sibelius and other scoring packages
  • Issues of publishing and copyright
  • There will be opportunities to try out scores in performance through regular workshops.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • Students will understand the principles of arranging and orchestration of music for different ensembles and be able to demonstrate this knowledge through the production of notated scores to meet a range of performance requirements.
Subject-specific Skills:
    Key Skills:

      Modes of Teaching, Learning and Assessment and how these contribute to the learning outcomes of the module

      • The outcomes of this module involve the production of written artefacts in the form of notated scores, or sections thereof, that demonstrate advanced skills of arranging and orchestration for a range of ensembles. These require the study of the performance characteristics of individual instruments, in terms of range and colour, transposition, viable combinations and groupings and the registration of these in terms of scoring detail. In addition it is necessary to study the nature and use of advanced chords and harmony, and also features of music writing that are style-specific.
      • The primary modes of teaching and learning involve seminars and individual tutorials where the component techniques are introduced, practised, and evaluated through weekly assignments and the study of exemplar arrangements and orchestrations.
      • The processes of teaching and learning are further enhanced by the provision of practical workshops, where exercises can be performed and the results critically evaluated both in class. Opportunities for specialisation are built into the module (e.g. brass or wind wind scoring).

      Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

      Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
      Tutorials 9 Fortnightly 1 hour 9
      Seminars 9 Fortnightly 1 hour 9
      Practicals 10 Fortnightly 2 hours 20
      Preparation and Reading 262
      Total 300

      Summative Assessment

      Component: Portfolio of arrangements Component Weighting: 50%
      Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
      Portfolio of arrangements 100%
      Component: Take-away examination paper Component Weighting: 50%
      Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
      Take-away examination paper 2 hours 100%

      Formative Assessment:

      The completion and marking of assignments provide regular feedback on progress and the basis for further instruction, leading to the portfolio.

      Attendance at all activities marked with this symbol will be monitored. Students who fail to attend these activities, or to complete the summative or formative assessment specified above, will be subject to the procedures defined in the University's General Regulation V, and may be required to leave the University