The University of Southampton

MUSI2128 Arranging

Module Overview

This module teaches the principles of how to approach an arrangement (being clear in purpose, audience, aesthetic and practical professional considerations like budget, personnel and venue) as well as the technical considerations of how to plan and execute that arrangement successfully (doing the right research and preparation into the style, and being aware of how it is possible to be aware of, control and even invent different technical parameters).

Aims and Objectives

Module Aims

Understand the technical elements of an arrangement. This means things like grasping the principle that contrasts map onto form, and that the roles in the musical fabric (bass, melody, countermelody, chords, non melodic lines and so forth) are interdependent and require separate fine control through an arrangement. • Give you the experience of real-life examples of arranging work across a spectrum of styles • Give you the skills to be able to work as a professional arranger

Learning Outcomes

Knowledge and Understanding

Having successfully completed this module, you will be able to demonstrate knowledge and understanding of:

  • how to analyse a musical syntax (elements of a style – form, harmony, texture, instrumentation and so forth) in a range of different styles and ensembles
  • how to reduce material to a short score for effective re-arrangement; and how to enlarge a short score
  • how to adapt and alter a given piece of music to transform its syntax into a new, different style, The module will include concert, popular and folk traditions
Transferable and Generic Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Conceive, think through and execute a large creative and adaptive task.
  • Analyse, research and reflect on the details of what makes (a) Style work, and discipline yourself to its limitations
  • Ask practical questions confidently
  • Using certain types of notation short-hand (e.g. chord symbols, contractions and beams) to draft musical material effectively and speedily.
  • Work with and handle technologies (Logic, Sibelius)
  • Present publishable copies of musical scores, appropriate for a concert or recording scenario, printed with the aid of a computer notation programme for music software (e.g. Sibelius)
Subject Specific Practical Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Adapt melodic material to fit a new style but retain comprehensibly the same identity
  • Transform one type of musical accompaniment into another in terms of macro details; varying time signature, tempo, tonality, harmonic style
  • Handle micro-details of texture within a style and a formal template: e.g. to identify, select and manipulate the technical elements of the accompaniment in terms of content, gesture, rhetoric etc of bass, chord, non-melodic pitched line, countermelody, and un pitched material.
  • Lay out scores to a professional standard by hand or in computer-set notation
Subject Specific Intellectual and Research Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • create a rationale: make an informed and intelligent set of decisions when confronted with a brief that requires big choices to be made
  • control an overview: plan an arrangement so that its formal structure is coherent within a given style, and effectively maintained as a piece of rhetoric
  • own a process: research, draft and execute a specific arrangement clearly, from conception to final version; sticking to those earlier decisions
  • ask (yourself and others) the right professional questions; to know what these are, and when and how to ask them


This is a principle-centred, and practical module and seeks to create an inclusive paradigm for the student which enables you to approach the challenges of undertaking an arrangement with confidence, through focusing on a specific process (e.g. research > reflect > plan > draft), and following certain principles (e.g. contrasts map onto form, interdependence of bass/chords/countermelodies/ non-melodic lines and so forth). The module is simply divided into three parts: (1) it will set some context and parameters - to outline what arranging is, why it is done, who it is for and also its place in the world (how it is and is not composition and if and why that matters and who to). (2) The syllabus will set out a (reflective) practical working-process (how to…) and a set of principles that underpin the art of arranging (think about…), (3) It will look at specific musical aesthetics, broadly divided into ‘popular’ musics (jazz and pop) and ‘traditional’ musics (classical and folk). Template Approved by Senate – June 2013 University of Southampton 4 Module Profile date module name The two assignments will require you to arrange in different styles – one popular, and one traditional. These will be based on likely real-world briefs, and practical considerations (contracts, budget, technologies, professional development, collegial rapport etc) will be discussed as part of that. The goal is to produce musicians who are real-world-ready.

Special Features

This second semester module develops is inherently real-world, practical and technical, and hones the knowledge and skills worked on in a number of other modules like Orchestration, Songwriting, and the various Composition modules. It is opened to second and third year students and would be highly recommended for students wishing to develop their composition and arranging skills, particularly those interested in working in the commercial sector – film music, pop music, and for jazz composers and arrangers. It would also be an indispensable unit for aspiring secondary school teachers.

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

Teaching methods include: • Lectures • Individual tutorials • Workshops Learning activities include: • Individual study • Library-based research • On-line based research

Preparation for scheduled sessions42
Completion of assessment task42
Wider reading or practice42
Total study time150

Resources & Reading list

Henry Mancini (1973/6). Sounds and Scores. 

Walter Piston (1978). Orchestration. 

Gordon Jacob (1931). Orchestral Technique. 

Sammy Nestico (1993). The Complete Arranger. 

Daryl Runswick (1992). Rock, Jazz and Pop Arranging. 

Samuel Adler (1989). The Study of Orchestration. 

Nikolay Rimsky-Korsakov (1964). Principles of Orchestration. 

Dave Black, Tom Gerou (1998). Essential Dictionary of Orchestration. 

Russell Garcia (1979). The Professional Arranger/composer Books 1 & 2. 

William Russo (1961). Writing for the Jazz Orchestra. 

Hartley Library. 

Petrucci Music Library (Online).


Assessment Strategy

Include details of the proportion and weighting of coursework as well as the number, type and duration of examination(s). You must specify which element will be taken as the final assessment. Differentiation between 2nd and 3rd level work Second and third years will be set different assignments. The third year assignments will be longer (i.e. more bars or more time) and more challenging (i.e. requiring more technical challenges/ larger forces). For 3rd level students taking this unit, expectations will be higher than those for 2nd level students, and the assessment criteria will be accordingly stricter. In particular: • Assignments should demonstrate a broader degree of focus and detail; control over material; formal sophistication; and reflect a more mature response to the set compositional task. • For score based work, optimal standards are required in terms of the physical appearance of work and following the standards of good-practice musical notation. • For written work, optimal standards of presentation are required in terms of spelling, punctuation, and grammar; sophistication of vocabulary; provision of footnotes; inclusion of full bibliographic and related details; physical appearance of work, etc. In short, 3rd level students should aspire at all times to the highest possible levels of undergraduate work.


MethodPercentage contribution
Arrangement  (3 minutes) 50%
Arrangement  (3 minutes) 50%

Repeat Information

Repeat type: Internal & External

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