Composition Year Three

Unit of Study - Composition 302


The following applies to Year Three Bachelor of Music students.

Unit Outlines

Unit NameComposition 302: Composition & Arranging (Capstone)
Unit CodeCOMPMA 302
Unit DescriptionIn this Unit students will:
• Explore extended composition techniques and apply these to developing composition skills.
• Compose and orchestrate full length pieces based on technical briefs and requirements for professional performance.
• Arrange music for a prescribed musical theatre orchestra.
Award(s)Bachelor of Music
Unit Duration1 Semester (12 weeks)
Year LevelYear 3, Semester 2
Unit CoordinatorDr. Houston Dunleavy
Teaching StaffDr. Houston Dunleavy, Caleb Garfinkel
Core/ElectiveElective Major
Pre/Co-requisitesA pass in Composition 301
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• Software
• Computing resource requirements
• External Technical Assistance if required
Resources Provided• Composition Tutors
• On-campus equipment and performance facilities
• Online streaming video and additional referencing videos.
• 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 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 utilising music technology and recording software.  Students will compose a major work for an ensemble or orchestra at a professional level.

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 2
• Compositional devices, producing large works, exploration of styles and methods.
• Film scoring and composing to briefs, themes and melody writing.
• Advanced compositional tools, extended techniques.
• Revision of sequencing and MIDI applications in technology
• Analysis of works
• Produce a film score, sequenced and notated.
• Arranging devices and tools revision, extended techniques.
• Arranging for large scale bands and orchestras, instrumentation and orchestration overview.
• Russell Garcia arranging techniques
• Primary and tertiary melody use, extended harmony use.
• Produce a big band arrangement.

Student Assessment

Assessment TypeWhen assessedWeighting
(% of total unit marks)
Learning Outcomes Assessed
Assessment 1a
Folio 1 – Arranging

Type: Arranging Demonstrations
Length: 3x16-32
3 folio tasks demonstrating arranging principles.
Week 2-415% in total1, 3
Folio 1Folio 1A: Orchestration Brief Folio
Type: Arranging Folio
Length: 16-32 bars
Orchestrate the given piece for the assigned instruments using the provided brief, melody and harmonic structure.
Week 25%1, 3
Folio 1B: String Orchestration
Type: Arranging Folio
Length: 16-32 bars
Arrange a string quartet to accompany the given piano and melodic part.
Week 35%1, 3
Folio 1C: Reductions
Type: Arranging Folio
Length: 16-32 bars
Reduce the given score to a small ensemble of 6 instruments, ensuring critical melodies and harmonic parts are present.
Week 45%1, 3
Assessment 2: Theatre Arrangement
Length: 128 bars
Produce an orchestration for 12-20 piece music theatre orchestra of the provided piece
Week 630%2, 4
Assessment 3: Folio 2: Composition
Length: 3x16-32
3 folio tasks demonstrating composition techniques.
Week 8-1015% in total1, 3
Folio 2Folio 2A: Graphical Notation
Type: Composition
Length: 16-32 bars
Compose a piece using graphical and non-traditional notation, and produce a recording on your primary instrument.
Week 85%1, 3
Folio 2B: Pitch Material from Chords
Type: Composition
Length: 16-32 bars
Write a small melody and harmonic accompaniment based on inversions of calculated non-diatonic chords.
Week 95%1, 3
Folio 2C: Extended Technique Development
Type: Composition
Length: 32 bars
Write a composition incorporating clear demonstration of extended techniques discussed in lectures.
Week 105%1, 3
Assessment 4: Major Composition
Length: 128 bars minimum
Compose a piece of own choice, for at least 8 instruments including rhythmic instruments. Composition type and form can be of any preference, but must be discussed in a personal brief outlining decisions made.
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. (1988). Arranging and Composing for the Small Ensemble: Jazz/R&B/Jazz-Rock. Van Nuys, CA: Alfred Publishing.
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.
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 (rev. ed.).  New York, NY: Watson-Guptill and Amsco Publications.
Sarnecki, M.  (1999). Harmony. Edmonton, Canada: San Marco Publications.

Reference Materials

Belkin, A. (2003). General principles of harmony. Accessed 2/2/18.
Belkin, A. (2008). A practical guide to musical composition. Accessed 2/2/18.
Belkin, A. (2009). Principles of counterpoint. Accessed 2/2/18.
Boyd, M. Arrangement. Grove Music OnlineOxford Music Online. Oxford University Press. Retrieved from
Cooke, M. Film music. Grove Music OnlineOxford Music Online. Oxford University Press. Retrieved from
Garcia, R. (2004). The Professional Arranger Composer. Book I – VI. Accessed 2/2/18.
Kreitner, K. et al. Instrumentation and orchestration. Grove Music OnlineOxford Music Online. Oxford University Press. Retrieved from
Lichtenwanger, M., & Wallace Davidson, M. Copyright. Grove Music OnlineOxford Music Online. Oxford University Press. Retrieved from
Whittall, A. Arrangement. The Oxford Companion to Music. Ed. Alison Latham. Oxford Music Online. Oxford University Press. 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