The Arranging Core Curriculum and Proficiency Assessment

Arranging classes, in combination with ear training, harmony and music technology courses, will provide you with a broad-based musical vocabulary, important skills for your major studies, and a well-rounded musical background. Every entering student is placed into one of the following Arranging courses based on the proficiencies, skills, and knowledge demonstrated on the arranging section of the Entering Student Proficiency Assessment:

  • PW-111 Music Application and Theory
  • AR-111 Arranging 1
  • AR-112 Arranging 2
  • AR-201 Chord Scale Voicings for Arranging

For more writing and arranging information, also see the Glossary of Terms Used and Recommended Reading List.

PW-111 Music Application and Theory

The arranging portion of this first semester course focuses on the basic elements and concepts of music and how those individual elements are combined and interact to create compositions and arrangements as applied to the rhythm section (drums, bass, guitar, keyboard). The content includes melody, harmony, rhythm as separate elements, techniques of music notation by hand both generally applicable to music and specifically appropriate to rhythm section instruments, rhythmic concepts of meter and beat subdivisions, writing for the drum set and bass (including an introduction to the basic elements of rock, bossa, funk, and swing grooves, with variations), introduction to analysis of form and melody, and harmonic implications of melody when combined with the bass line.

AR-111 Arranging 1

Arranging 1 is intended to give students a practical understanding of concepts and techniques of writing for the rhythm section with and without a lead-line instrument/voice in a variety of contemporary musical styles. The Arranging 1 content includes the musical concepts of melody, rhythm, harmony, and form as applied to the principles and techniques of writing and arranging for the rhythm section (drums, bass, guitar, keyboards, basic percussion) and a lead line in a solo instrument, two horns (trumpet, alto or tenor saxophone), or voice. Focus is on the conceptualization process of combining individual components to create a musically satisfying arrangement. Various contemporary musical styles and the musical concepts that comprise them are studied, including writing from the "bottom up" (groove-driven) and "top down" (working with a melody in a lead instrument or voice). Writing assignments incorporate combinations of acoustic, electronic, and/or MIDI instruments. Music notation by hand is also an integral component.

Textbooks:

  • Arranging 1 by Bob Doezema
  • Arranging 1 Supplemental Material Second Edition by Jay Kennedy, Donny Nolan, and Tommy Kamp
  • Music Notation by Mark McGrain

AR-112 Arranging 2

Arranging 2 provides a basic understanding of the craft of writing for small groups of wind instruments in combination with the rhythm section. The course encompasses the study of the properties of trumpet, alto saxophone, tenor saxophone, trombone, and baritone saxophone, and the writing/arranging processes of standard and spread voicings, approach techniques, melodic embellishment, and guide tone backgrounds. Focus is on applying the writing processes to soli and background writing for two-, three-, four-, and five-part combinations of these instruments. Music notation by hand is an important aspect of the course.

Textbooks:

  • Arranging 2 by Bob Freedman and Ted Pease
  • Arranging 1 by Bob Doezema
  • Arranging 1 Supplemental Material Second Edition by Jay Kennedy, Donny Nolan and Tommy Kamp
  • Music Notation by Mark McGrain.

AR-201 Chord Scale Voicings for Arranging

Chord Scale Voicings for Arranging focuses on development of harmonic and voicing skills used to produce arrangements that are professional in technique. The content covers chord scale theory and writing techniques used in five- and six-part writing for instruments, including five-part soli voicings and five-part spread voicings, voicings in fourths, cluster voicings, upper structure triads, and concerted writing for six parts. Score analysis is an extensive component of the course.

Textbook:

  • Chord Scale Voicings for Arranging by Ted Pease and Ken Pullig