Composition Year Two

Unit of Study - Composition 201

The following applies to Year Two Bachelor of Music students.

Unit Outlines

Unit CodeCOMPOS 201
Unit DescriptionIn this Unit students will:
• Write music for different groups of instruments.
• Arrange music for varying sizes of ensemble for existing pieces.
• Explore composition techniques to extend creative options.
• Produce a large-scale composition that utilises arranging tools and demonstrates an extended composition technique.
• Analyse existing pieces for arranging techniques and tools used.
Award(s)Bachelor of Music
Unit Duration1 Semester (12 weeks)
Year LevelYear 2, Semester 2
Unit CoordinatorCaleb Garfinkel
Teaching StaffCaleb Garfinkel
Pre/Co-requisitesSatisfactory completion of Composition 101
Credit Points10 credit points
Mode of Deliveryx Face to face
x E-learning (online)
o Intensive/block mode (where the unit or a face to face component is delivered in a block)
x Distance/independent learning (un-timetabled)
x Full-time
x Part-time
o External
x Fast track
Student Workload
Delivery/ Contact Hours
Number of timetabled hours per week
• Lecture Theory 1 hour
• Practical Session - 1 hour
• Tutorial n/a
• Personal Independent Study - 6 hours
Total hours per week - 8 hours
Resource Requirements• Personal computer and internet access
• MIDI Keyboard or USB interface
• External Technical Assistance if required
Resources Provided• Notation software – Sibelius/Finale
• Online streaming video and additional referencing videos.
• DVDs are available upon request and given/posted to students
• Library resources (see prescribed or recommended texts below)

Unit Aims

Composition 201 expands on instrumental and compositional knowledge gained in Composition 101 to enhance students’ comprehension of composition and arranging principles when creating and orchestrating music specific instrumental ensembles.
Students will explore advanced compositional tools and arranging techniques for combinations of common instruments by creating compositions and arrangements based on existing melodic and harmonic content. Principles explored through this unit will provide students with the ability to produce a large and detailed composition at a professional level based on their developing musical preferences. Further analysis and communication skills will be developed through analysis of composition and arranging principles and techniques used in existing works, and through self-evaluation.

Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this unit, students are expected to be able to:

  1. Demonstrate comprehension of the fundamentals and mechanics of composition and principles of arranging.
  2. Apply knowledge and utilise compositional tools, arranging techniques and musicianship in a variety of common instrumental examples in contemporary music, demonstrating appropriate use of counterpoint, harmonisation and chordal use.
  3. Demonstrate awareness of composition devices and arranging techniques in the realised arrangement of an existing piece
  4. Critically analyse music from aural and notated sources to identify arranging techniques employed and self-reflect on arrangements and communicate effectively to outline the rationale for the style and instrument choice.
  5. Use music notation software to produce arrangements and scores at a professional standard, streamlining the arranging process.

Teaching Outline

Year 2
Semester 2
• Melody writing, contemporary music forms,
• Mode creation, pitch sets, generating pitch material and repetitive devices.
• Borrowing and drawing motific and structural concepts from existing works.
• Engraving considerations and presentation for performance.
• Structure and considerations for jazz, funk and soul, and contemporary styles.
• Arranging voice types: close, spread including drop 2, drop 2, drop 2&4, two note voicing, string harmony.
• Arranging for single instruments, groups, two instrument lines, blended ensembles, combining multiple instrument groups, different voice types.
• Chords and chord tone assignment, substitutions, upper extensions, doubling and omitting.

Student Assessment

 Assessment TypeWhen assessedWeighting
(% of total unit marks)
Learning Outcomes Assessed
Assessment 1
Type: Composition Folio – See Folio 1 Below
Type: Notated Works
Description: A series of 16-32 bar arrangements utilising key composition and arranging principles and techniques explored.
Week 2-1040%
1, 2, 3, 4, 6
Folio 1Folio 1A: Mode Creation (16 bars total)
Create a mode and write a piece utilising contained tonality.
Week 25%1, 2, 3, 5
Folio 1B: Spread Voicing Arranging (16 bars total)
Arrange main and counter melodies using varying spread voicing types.
Week 35%1, 2, 3, 5
Folio 1C: Limited Pitch and Interval Sets (2x16 bars)
Construct a melody using selected notes, and one using set intervals.
Week 45%1, 2, 3, 5
Folio 1D: Vocal Composition (16 bars)
Write an a cappella vocal composition using vocal and lyrical ostinatos and pitch.
Week 55%1, 2, 3, 5, 6
Folio 1E: Combining Voicing Types (32 bars)
Arrange a given piece for 3 groups of instruments using all voice types: Melody in close, counter melody and harmony parts in spread.
Week 65%1, 2, 3, 6, 7
Assessment 2: Composition Analysis
Type: Written Analysis
Length: 500 words min + notation examples
Description: Analysis of a given piece identifying instrumentation, composition and arranging techniques used by the composer or arranger.
Week 715%1, 4, 5
Folio 1 ContinuedFolio 1F: Ostinato and Repetition with Change (2x16 bars)
Write a melody based on an ostinato accompaniment, and a melody from repeated phrases with internal change.
Week 85%1, 2, 3, 5
Folio 1G: String Arranging: (32 bars)
Arrange a string quartet for a given piece.
Week 95%1, 2, 3, 5
Folio 1H: Jazz Composition & Lead Sheet (32 bars)
Compose a 32 bar jazz melody and complete with 3 additional simple charts or lead sheets for a harmonic instrument (piano/guitar), bass and drums.
Week 105%1, 2, 3, 4, 6
Assessment 3: Major Composition
Length: 64 bars min. Description: Compose a piece comprising of melody and harmony, and orchestrate for at least 12 instruments utilising arranging principles.
Week 1240%1, 2, 3, 6
3 continuedAssessment 3: Composition Report
Type: Written Analysis
Length: 250-500 words
Compete a brief report detailing considerations made when composing and orchestrating final piece.
Week 125%1, 3, 4, 5

Prescribed and recommended readings:

Library Resources
Online Resources (books/video)
A subscription to Oxford Music Online and to Grove Music Online which includes:

  • The Grove Dictionary of American Music (2nd ed.).
  • The New Grove Dictionary of Jazz (2nd ed.).
  • The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians (2nd ed.).
  • The New Grove Dictionary of Opera.
  • The Oxford Companion to Music.
  • The Oxford Dictionary of Music (2nd ed.).

Plus updated content bibliographies, specially-commissioned articles only available online.

A subscription to JSTOR Journals and books
A subscription to video tutorials


Recommended Reading List

Baker, D. (1988). Arranging and Composing for the Small Ensemble: Jazz/R&B/Jazz-Rock. (revised ed.) Van Nuys, LA: Alfred Publishing.

Blatter, A. (1997). Instrumentation and Orchestration. 2nd ed. New York, NY: Schirmer Books.

Korsakov, R. (1964). Principles of Orchestration. Dover ed. New York, NY: Courier Corporation.

Lowell, D & Pullig, K. (2003). Arranging for Large Jazz Ensemble. Boston, MA: Berklee Press.

Reference Materials

Cooke, M. (2001). Film music. Grove Music OnlineOxford Music Online. Oxford University Press. Retrieved from:

Kreitner, K., Terey-Smith, M., Westrup, J., Holoman, D. K., Hoplins, G. W., Griffiths, P., & Conrad, J. A. (2001) Instrumentation and Orchestration.  Grove Music OnlineOxford Music Online. Oxford University Press. Retrieved from:

Kleiner, P., Skone James, E. P., McFarlane, G., & Nimmer, M. B. (2001) Copyright. Grove Music OnlineOxford Music Online. Oxford University Press. Retrieved from:

Malcolm, B. (2001). Arrangement. Grove Music OnlineOxford Music Online. Oxford University Press. Retrieved from:

Whittall, A. (n.d.). Arrangement. The Oxford Companion to Music. In A. Latham (Ed.). Oxford Music Online. Oxford University Press. Retrieved from:


Assessment Overview
The Arranging unit is assessed through creative assessment tasks, including an ongoing folio of works that demonstrate knowledge in key arranging areas; a major arrangement; and analysis assessments, requiring written identification and analysis of arranging techniques used in an existing and created works.

Creative Assessments refer to arranging and notation tasks which are wholly assessed on the strengths, effectiveness and originality of a student’s musical awareness. These tasks contain a degree of finite responses, such as theoretical and notational accuracy, however as a whole are largely focused on students’ comprehension of effective writing practises for all instruments in a wide variety of styles, utilising this knowledge to arrange material of harmonic and melodic interest to accompany existing pieces. See the Creative Assessments Rubric to see how marks are applied.

Analysis Assessments in this unit relate to written tasks with open questions whose responses allow freedom of application or creativity in responses, limited to text answers. These include questions relating to the perceived arranging technique and outcome of existing work, roles and technical use of instruments in a piece of music, awareness of the mood and effect of various instrument techniques and depth of analysis. See Written Assessments Rubric to see how marks are applied.

#Course Learning Outcomes

On completion of the course the student should be able to:
Unit Learning OutcomesAssessments
1 A broad knowledge of the applied, theoretical and historical basis of the discipline1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 61, 2, 3
2A depth of disciplinary knowledge in a professionally applicable specialisation2, 3, 4, 52, 3
3An understanding of the processes of musical scholarship and research3, 4, 5, 62, 3
4The ability to work both independently and collaboratively in diverse and complex musical settings1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 61, 2, 3
5Effective written, verbal and interpersonal communication skills2, 3, 4, 51, 2, 3
6Critical thinking and analytical skills appropriate to a range of contexts including further study3, 4, 52, 3
7The ability to apply specific musical skills to a wide range of professional contexts3, 4, 5, 62, 3
8The capacity to apply technological and creative solutions to contemporary musical practices3, 4, 61, 2, 3
9The ability to incorporate knowledge from the business and legal fields to a portfolio career in the music profession.3, 4, 61, 3

#Graduate Attribute
Successful completion of this unit will contribute to the attainment of the following graduate attributes:
Unit Learning OutcomesCourse Learning OutcomesAssessments
1Deep disciplinary knowledge1, 2, 3, 4, 51, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 71, 2, 3
2The ability to apply knowledge and skills in innovative ways2, 3, 4, 63, 4, 5, 71, 3
3A commitment to lifelong learning1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 61, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 71, 3
4Effective communication skills for diverse contexts3, 4, 54, 5, 6, 71, 2, 3
5The capacity to work independently and collaboratively1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 61, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 71, 2, 3