Composition Year Three

Unit of Study - Composition 301


The following applies to Year Three Bachelor of Music students.

Unit Outlines

Unit NameComposition 301: Composition & Arranging (Capstone)
Unit CodeCOMPMA301
Unit DescriptionIn this Unit students will:
• Utilise composition tools and techniques to enhance compositional abilities.
• Arrange works for large bands and ensembles.
• Compose and sequence music to film.
Award(s)Bachelor of Music
Unit Duration1 Semester (12 weeks)
Year LevelYear 3, Semester 1
Unit CoordinatorDr. Houston Dunleavy
Teaching StaffDr. Houston Dunleavy, Caleb Garfinkel
Core/ElectiveElective Major
Pre/Co-requisitesA pass in Composition 201
Credit Points20 credit points
Mode of Deliveryx Face to face
x E-learning (online)
o Ontensive/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
o Fast track
Student Workload
Delivery/ Contact Hours
Number of timetabled hours per week
• Lecture Theory 1 hour
• Practical Session - 1 hour
• Tutorial - 1 hour
• Personal Independent Study - 8 hour
Total hours per week - 11 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

This unit aims to achieve a high level of understanding in students towards writing full arrangements and compositions applying advanced knowledge and techniques in a range of styles using a variety of instrumentation.  Students will apply instrumentation, composition and arranging knowledge to create original works synchronised to movie scenes for a variety of moods incorporating music technology and visual media.  Students will compose a major work for a large orchestral arrangement at a professional level by the end of the course.

Learning Outcomes

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

  1. Demonstrate confidence in using a range of advanced compositional techniques to a high standard for individual and professional purposes.
  2. Evaluate and explore compositional and technical aspects, aesthetics, and interpretation of compositional briefs and concepts.
  3. Demonstrate critical thinking, knowledge and understanding of composition styles and methods on the development of contemporary music.
  4. Utilise music technology to aid in the scoring, composition and production of works.

Teaching Outline

Year 3
Semester 1
• Theatre and alternate arranging and orchestration principles
• Orchestrating to briefs and for specific purposes
• Arranging techniques, problems in orchestration, reductions, uses.
• Scoring requirements, reading and preparing charts.
• Produce an orchestration of a finished piece for theatre.
• Extended and advanced composition techniques.
• Composition forms and devices, tools of composition, technical scoring requirements, themes and melody writing, harmonic substitution.
• Producing large works, extending compositional exposure and influences.
• Compose a piece incorporating extended and modern techniques.

Student Assessment

 Assessment TypeWhen assessedWeighting
(% of total unit marks)
Learning Outcomes Assessed
Assessment 1
Folio 1 – Arranging
Type: Arranging Demonstrations
Length: 3x16-32
3 folio tasks demonstrating arranging principles.
Week 2-415%1, 3
Folio 1Folio 1A: Voice Types
Type: Arranging Folio
Length: 16-32 bars
Arrange the given piece using a variety of voicing types as directed.
Week 25%1, 3
Folio 1B: Upper Extensions
Type: Arranging Folio
Length: 16-32 bars
Arrange the given jazz standard for 3 groups of instruments using upper extensions suitably.
Week 35%1, 3
Folio 1C: Arranging Extensions and Substitutions
Type: Arranging Folio
Length: 16-32 bars
Arrange the given piece using a variety of arranging techniques as preferred.
Week 45%1, 3
Assessment 2: Arrangement
Length: 128 bars
Produce a big band arrangement of a given jazz standard, for 3 instrument groups. Include at least 4 choruses, including a suitable ending. The rhythm section will be provided but you are welcome to change components of the accompaniment if desired.
Week 630%2, 4
Assessment 3: Folio 2: Composition
Length: 3x16-32
3 folio tasks demonstrating composition techniques.
Week 715%1, 3
Folio 2Folio 2A: Theme and Variations
Type: Composition
Length: 16-32 bars
Compose a theme with several variations.
Week 85%1, 3
Folio 2B: Theme Exploration
Type: Composition
Length: 16-32 bars
Observe one of the provided scores and compose a short study piece based on an element of interest. This can be a melodic theme, harmonic movement, or rhythmic concept, for example.
Week 95%1, 3
Folio 2C: Stylistic Exploration
Type: Composition
Length: 32 bars
Compose 3 small pieces using the same theme in stylistically different manners for varying emotional uses.
Week 105%1, 3
Assessment 4: Film Score
Length: 2 minutes
Compose a score to the given film. Produce a written brief and scores, and sequence the score to the film. Use a combination of notation software, sequencing and video software, producing a score and synchronised video.
Week 1240%2, 4

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. (1998). Arranging and Composing for the Small Ensemble: Jazz, R&B, Jazz-Rock (revised ed.). Van Nuys, LA: Alfred Publishing.

Belkin, A. (2003). General principles of harmony. Retrieved from

Belkin, A. (2008). A practical guide to musical composition. Retrieved from

Belkin, A. (2009). Principles of counterpoint. Retrieved from

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

Dunbar-Hall, P., & Hodge, G. (1993). A guide to rock ‘n’ pop (2nd ed.). Marrickville, Australia: Science Press.

Dunbar-Hall, P. (1993). Teaching popular music. Marrickville, Australia: Science Press.

Furstner, M. (1993). Chords, scales and simple improvisation. Book 1. Nambour, Australia: Michael Furstner.

Garcia, R. (2004). The Professional Arranger Composer. Book I – VI. Retrieved from

Josefs, J. (2001). Writing music for hit songs. London, England: Omnibus.

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

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

Mehegan, J. (1984). Tonal and rhythmic principles (revised ed.).  New York, NY: Watson-Guptill and Amsco Publications.

Sarnecki, M.  (1999). Harmony. Edmonton, Canada: San Marco Publications.

Reference Materials

Boyd, M. Arrangement. Grove Music OnlineOxford Music Online. Oxford University Press. Web. Retrieved from

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

Lichtenwanger, M., & Wallace Davidson, M. Copyright. Grove Music OnlineOxford Music Online. Oxford University Press. Web. Retrieved from

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

Course Outcomes

#Course Learning Outcomes

On completion of the course the student should be able to demonstrate:
Unit Learning OutcomesAssessments
1 A broad knowledge of the applied, theoretical and historical basis of the discipline1, 31, 3
2A depth of disciplinary knowledge in a professionally applicable specialisation2, 42, 4
3An understanding of the processes of musical scholarship and research2, 34
4The ability to work both independently and collaboratively in diverse and complex musical settings1, 2, 32, 4
5Effective written, verbal and interpersonal communication skills44
6Critical thinking and analytical skills appropriate to a range of contexts including further study2, 41, 3
7The ability to apply specific musical skills to a wide range of professional contexts2, 42, 4
8The capacity to apply technological and creative solutions to contemporary musical practices2, 41, 2, 3, 4
9The ability to incorporate knowledge from the business and legal fields to a portfolio career in the music profession.44

Graduate Attributes

#Graduate Attribute
Successful completion of this unit will contribute to the attainment of the following graduate attributes:
Unit Learning OutcomesCourse Learning OutcomesAssessments
1Deep disciplinary knowledge2, 31, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 71, 2, 3
2The ability to apply knowledge and skills in innovative ways1, 43, 4, 5, 71, 3
3A commitment to lifelong learning2, 31, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 71, 3
4Effective communication skills for diverse contexts24, 5, 6, 71, 2, 3
5The capacity to work independently and collaboratively2, 31, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 71, 2, 3