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Academic Year: Fall/Winter 2013/2014

Term: 3

Day/Evening: D

Office Hours: T.B.A

Course Objectives:



  • To study the characteristics and roles of the individual instruments and families of instruments that make up the modern symphony orchestra and/or concert band.
  • To learn the techniques of scoring for large & small ensembles.
  • To study the practice of orchestrations observed in the music of important composers.
  • To create numerous small works, which will be performed during class.
  • To create an arrangement for one of the ensembles at McMaster University and hear it performed during a reading session.

Topics will include:

  • Characteristics of individual instruments & principles of scoring for each family of instrument.
  • Considerations of registration, pure & mixed timbres, scoring and texture, balance, score order
  • Transpositions, clefs, common scoring practices, unusual scorings, etc.
  • Critical listening and analysis of important works from the standard repertoire



The course will consist of illustrated lectures using recorded sound and/or live demonstrations. The focus will be on practical applications of the knowledge required. Several classes during the second half of the year will involve individual consultation sessions.

Textbooks, Materials & Fees:


Method of Assessment:



  1. Assignments: (40%) Because of the practical nature of this course, students can expect bi-weekly assignments. Most of these will be brief, and will be drawn from the workbook. At least one assignment will involve an oral presentation.
  2. Listening Tests: (20%) Four tests throughout the course. Students will be required to aurally analyze and evaluate the scoring of a particular passage using the principles studied in class.
  3. Final Project;  (20%) Score for large ensemble (symphony orchestra, chamber orchestra, band, wind ensemble) of a short work written for another medium. If symphony orchestra or band is chosen, the standard orchestration of these ensembles should be applied. (Standard orchestrations have evolved over many years for good, practical reasons. Attempting an unorthodox scoring can create very complex difficulties!). The chamber orchestra uses a standard string section, but, other than strings, it and the wind ensemble do not have standardized instrumentation. Students should select the instruments they feel are appropriate to the music. However, at least some of the representatives from each important instrumental family studied in class must be included. (Strings, winds, brass, percussion in the case of the chamber orchestra. Winds, brass, percussion in the case of the wind ensemble.)  A copy of the original work must be submitted with your completed score. Both the original and your orchestration of it must have all bars numbered Students are advised to consult with the instructor at the beginning of the assignment,

Due: Anytime second term, but no later than March 3, 2014

  1. Exam: (20%). The exam will cover the full course, including transpositions, clef readings, bowings, and special effects. Etc., and will also involve the scoring of short passages for specific instrumental groups.




Students are expected to attend all lectures, during which much of the course content will be delivered. It is the responsibility of students to obtain information presented in any lectures misses. The instructor will not provide course notes. Students who must miss any scheduled tests due to illness must follow proper procedure for documenting their absences and provide proper documentation to the instructor in order to have a make-up test scheduled.

Policy on Missed Work, Extensions, and Late Penalties:

McMaster Student Absence Form (MSAF)

This is a self-reporting tool for undergraduate students to report absences DUE TO MINOR MEDICAL SITUATIONS that last up to 5 days and provides the ability to request accommodation for any missed academic work. Please note, this tool cannot be used during any final examination period. You may submit a maximum of 1 Academic Work Missed request per term. It is YOUR responsibility to follow up with your Instructor immediately (NORMALLY WITHIN TWO WORKING DAYS) regarding the nature of the accommodation. If you are absent for reasons other than medical reasons, for more than 5 days, or exceed 1 request per term, you MUST visit your Associate Dean's Office/Faculty Office). You may be required to provide supporting documentation. This form should be filled out immediately when you are about to return to class after your absence.

Please Note the Following Policies and Statements:

Academic Dishonesty

You are expected to exhibit honesty and use ethical behaviour in all aspects of the learning process. Academic credentials you earn are rooted in principles of honesty and academic integrity.

Academic dishonesty is to knowingly act or fail to act in a way that results or could result in unearned academic credit or advantage. This behaviour can result in serious consequences, e.g. the grade of zero on an assignment, loss of credit with a notation on the transcript (notation reads: "Grade of F assigned for academic dishonesty"), and/or suspension or expulsion from the university.

It is your responsibility to understand what constitutes academic dishonesty. For information on the various types of academic dishonesty please refer to the Academic Integrity Policy, located at

The following illustrates only three forms of academic dishonesty:

  1. Plagiarism, e.g. the submission of work that is not one’s own or for which other credit has been obtained.
  2. Improper collaboration in group work.
  3. Copying or using unauthorized aids in tests and examinations.

Email correspondence policy

It is the policy of the Faculty of Humanities that all email communication sent from students to instructors (including TAs), and from students to staff, must originate from each student’s own McMaster University email account. This policy protects confidentiality and confirms the identity of the student.  Instructors will delete emails that do not originate from a McMaster email account.

Modification of course outlines

The University reserves the right to change dates and/or deadlines etc. for any or all courses in the case of an emergency situation or labour disruption or civil unrest/disobedience, etc. If a modification becomes necessary, reasonable notice and communication with the students will be given with an explanation and the opportunity to comment on changes. Any significant changes should be made in consultation with the Department Chair.

McMaster Student Absence Form (MSAF)

In the event of an absence for medical or other reasons, students should review and follow the Academic Regulation in the Undergraduate Calendar Requests for Relief for Missed Academic Term Work. Please note these regulations have changed beginning Fall 2015. You can find information at If you have any questions about the MSAF, please contact your Associate Dean's office.

Academic Accommodation of Students with Disabilities

Students who require academic accommodation must contact Student Accessibility Services (SAS) to make arrangements with a Program Coordinator. Academic accommodations must be arranged for each term of study. Student Accessibility Services can be contacted by phone 905-525-9140 ext. 28652 or e-mail For further information, consult McMaster University's Policy for Academic Accommodation of Students with Disabilities.

Academic Accommodation for Religious, Indigenous and Spiritual Observances

Students requiring academic accommodation based on religion and spiritual observances should follow the procedures set out in the Course Calendar or by their respective Faculty. In most cases, the student should contact his or her professor or academic advisor as soon as possible to arrange accommodations for classes, assignments, tests and examinations that might be affected by a religious holiday or spiritual observance.

Topics and Readings:

Required Materials


  • Adler, Samuel. The Study of Orchestration, Third Edition. New York: W.W. Norton & Company Ltd.
  • Manuscript paper (letter size will be adequate for most assignments, but students will require several sheets of 24-stave paper for the final assignment).
  • Pencils with medium-hard lead (HB or 2B).
  • A good quality eraser.
  • Computer-based notation software. Students who do not currently use this type of software are encouraged to download musescore, a free programme, from Several computers in the Humanities Computing Lab run Sibelius, a popular music notation software.

Other Course Information: