Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Postgraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2007-2008 (archived)


Department: Music


Type Open Level 4 Credits 60 Availability Available in 2007/08


  • None.


  • None.

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None.


  • This level 4 module, studied over the first two terms, provides advanced training for students in music writing for brass bands. The studies are aimed at an indepth appreciation of the special techniques required, and the production of arrangements suitable for performance and publication.


  • This module will help develop the advanced skills necessary to become a highly competent orchestrator, arranger and transcriber for brass bands. Study of exemplary compositions and arrangements will form an integral part of the studies. During the course each student will build a portfolio of arrangements in a variety of styles, some of which will be performed.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • Students will understand the principles of arranging and orchestration for various ensembles but in particular the brass band. They will become fluent in transposition, the range of instruments and how to use them to maximum effect.
Subject-specific Skills:
  • In any one year the following skills will be addressed: study of individual instruments, their range, colour and the main orchestral families; scoring techniques, focussing on brass and percussion; voicing of harmonies, textures and timbres; orchestration of piano pieces; arrangements of works from other media; the practise 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.
Key Skills:
  • With subject knowledge and subject skills, the student will demonstrate the acquisition of key skills such as auralisation of a piece of music, transferred to another medium and the principles of how to realise this with the production of notated scores.

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 artefact in the form or notated scores, or sections thereof, that demonstrate advanced skills of arranging and orchestration for a range of ensembles, and particularly for brass bands. These require the study of performance characteristics of individual instruments including percussion, 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 orchestrations. The processes of teaching and learning are further enhanced by the provision of practical workshops, where exercises can be performed and the result critically evaluated both individually andin class.

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Tutorials 19 weekly 1 hour 19
Seminars/workshops 9 fortnightly 2 hours 18
Practicals 10 fortnightly 1 hour 10
Student preparation 553
Total 600

Summative Assessment

Component: Take-away Examination Component Weighting: 50%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Take-away Examination 100% yes
Component: Portfolio of Arrangements Component Weighting: 50%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Portfolio of Arrangements 100% yes

Formative Assessment:

Regular assignments and orchestrations, with written and oral feedback form the basis of a developing portfolio and the development of skills.

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