MUSCOMP 2310 - Orchestration Foundations

North Terrace Campus - Semester 1 - 2014

A historical study of the development of orchestration from the Classical period to the present day provides the framework for the analysis of orchestral techniques, style, texture and colour. General principles are introduced to students supported by the analysis of specific case studies from various musical periods. The first five weeks of the course concentrate on the techniques and functions of the various instrumental families of the orchestra. Concepts are reinforced by short in-class problem solving exercises. Score reading skills are assumed.

  • General Course Information
    Course Details
    Course Code MUSCOMP 2310
    Course Orchestration Foundations
    Coordinating Unit Elder Conservatorium of Music
    Term Semester 1
    Level Undergraduate
    Location/s North Terrace Campus
    Units 3
    Contact Up to 2 hours per week
    Restrictions Available to BMus, BMusEd, BMusSt students only
    Quota 25
    Assessment 30 minute in-class quiz (week 5) 20%, Exercise - analysis of orchestral texture 25%, Reduction of an orchestral excerpt to two staves 25%, Orchestration of a short piano excerpt 30%
    Course Staff

    Course Coordinator: Professor Graeme Koehne

    Course Timetable

    The full timetable of all activities for this course can be accessed from Course Planner.

  • Learning Outcomes
    Course Learning Outcomes
    1. a broad knowledge and appreciation of orchestral repertoire and an understanding of a range of styles and techniques
    2. a basic understanding of the constitution of the symphony orchestra and the fundamental roles and techniques of the individual instruments.
    3. basic score layout and notational skills
    4. aural perception of instrumental colours and common orchestral textures
    5. familiarity with basic principles of orchestration and arranging
    University Graduate Attributes

    This course will provide students with an opportunity to develop the Graduate Attribute(s) specified below:

    University Graduate Attribute Course Learning Outcome(s)
    Knowledge and understanding of the content and techniques of a chosen discipline at advanced levels that are internationally recognised. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5
    The ability to locate, analyse, evaluate and synthesise information from a wide variety of sources in a planned and timely manner. 1, 2, 3, 5
    An ability to apply effective, creative and innovative solutions, both independently and cooperatively, to current and future problems. 5
    Skills of a high order in interpersonal understanding, teamwork and communication. 3, 4, 5
    A proficiency in the appropriate use of contemporary technologies. 3, 4
    A commitment to continuous learning and the capacity to maintain intellectual curiosity throughout life. 1, 4
    An awareness of ethical, social and cultural issues within a global context and their importance in the exercise of professional skills and responsibilities. 1
  • Learning Resources
    Required Resources

    All score excerpts supplied in class

    Recommended Resources

    Access to Sibelius (or Finale) music notation software is recommended

    Online Learning

    Additional score materials are available from; provides useful forums and resources

  • Learning & Teaching Activities
    Learning & Teaching Modes

    Orchestration Foundations Tutorial (12 x 90 minutes)


    The information below is provided as a guide to assist students in engaging appropriately with the course requirements.

    In addition to the weekly classes, students are expected to devote an average of six hours a week to score analysis and orchestral repertoire studies.

    Learning Activities Summary

    The first five weeks of classes consist of instructor-led study of the instruments of the orchestra followed by the study of the general principles of orchestration supported by the analytical study of short excerpts from the repertoire. Short, in-class exercises, guided by the instructor, reinforce the specific concepts.

    Specific Course Requirements

    The first five weeks of classes consist of instructor-led study of the instruments of the orchestra followed by the study of the general principles of orchestration supported by the analytical study of short excerpts from the repertoire. Short, in-class exercises, guided by the instructor, reinforce the specific concepts.

  • Assessment

    The University's policy on Assessment for Coursework Programs is based on the following four principles:

    1. Assessment must encourage and reinforce learning.
    2. Assessment must enable robust and fair judgements about student performance.
    3. Assessment practices must be fair and equitable to students and give them the opportunity to demonstrate what they have learned.
    4. Assessment must maintain academic standards.

    Assessment Summary

    Assessment is based on four components:

    A short (30’) in-class quiz (week 5) on the instrumental basics material covered in the first five weeks. (The quiz will test student’s knowledge of basic information relating to orchestral instruments – all this information will be covered in the first few weeks and much of it will be available on handouts given out in the first week. (also any basic text on orchestration will cover this sort of information).

    The type of information you will be expected to know includes:
    Standard professional ranges for the following instruments and an ability to aurally identify from a recorded excerpt: piccolo, flute, oboe, cor anglais (English horn), clarinets in Bb and A, bass clarinet, bassoon, horn in F, trumpets in Bb and C, tenor trombone, tuba, harp, violin, viola, cello and bass. Yes, you will need to memorize them!

    You will need to know basic information about each of the instruments listed above including clefs used, basic playing techniques (tremolo, arco, pizz con sord. etc); standard orchestral terms (divisi, unisoni, a2, tutti etc.); basic elements of string writing (bowing, phrasing); basic notational principles and score layout conventions.
    You will also need to know how to write for transposing instruments (cor anglais, clarinets, trumpets, horns) –correctly transposing short melodies for some of these instruments. (20%)

    An exercise in the analysis of orchestral texture (25%)

    Reduction of an orchestral excerpt to two staves (25%)

    Orchestration of a short piano excerpt (30%)

    Assessment Related Requirements
    As above.
    Assessment Detail

    The assessments provide opportunity for the student to demonstrate a knowledge of the basic capacities of the instruments of the orchestra; proficiency with score layout and notation skills; ability to recognize instrumental colours; ability to analyse musical textures aurally and general familiarity with the fundamental principles of orchestration.


    To be submitted to the Music Office by 12 noon on the date specified for the assignment

    Course Grading

    Grades for your performance in this course will be awarded in accordance with the following scheme:

    M10 (Coursework Mark Scheme)
    Grade Mark Description
    FNS   Fail No Submission
    F 1-49 Fail
    P 50-64 Pass
    C 65-74 Credit
    D 75-84 Distinction
    HD 85-100 High Distinction
    CN   Continuing
    NFE   No Formal Examination
    RP   Result Pending

    Further details of the grades/results can be obtained from Examinations.

    Grade Descriptors are available which provide a general guide to the standard of work that is expected at each grade level. More information at Assessment for Coursework Programs.

    Final results for this course will be made available through Access Adelaide.

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    SELTs are an important source of information to inform individual teaching practice, decisions about teaching duties, and course and program curriculum design. They enable the University to assess how effectively its learning environments and teaching practices facilitate student engagement and learning outcomes. Under the current SELT Policy ( course SELTs are mandated and must be conducted at the conclusion of each term/semester/trimester for every course offering. Feedback on issues raised through course SELT surveys is made available to enrolled students through various resources (e.g. MyUni). In addition aggregated course SELT data is available.

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  • Policies & Guidelines
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