This unit (ACO3010) focuses on the principles and techniques of arranging for popular music. Students are introduced to: the characteristics of musical instruments including synthesizers; idiomatic writing as part of the arranging process; blend, balance and voicing; melodic and harmonic embellishment; form and structure; timbre and texture; and dynamic and spectral contour. Students analyse and critique these techniques in a selection of exemplary works and relevant texts and then produce and perform the techniques in illustrative arrangement contexts.

Unit details

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Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this unit, students will be able to:
  1. Analyse, critique and assess different arranging techniques across a variety of styles and genres of music;  
  2. Explain how issues and problems of arranging affect different musical outcomes in a range of social contexts;  
  3. Apply an understanding of idiomatic phenomena connected with arranging different musical instruments; and  
  4. Produce and perform arrangements for various popular music forms.  


Assessment type Description Grade
Essay Critical analysis of selected musical repertoire. 25%
Creative Works Production of song arrangements. 30%
Performance Performance of song arrangements. 25%
Presentation Solo project presentation 20%

Where to next?

As part of a course

This unit is studied as part of the following courses. Refer to the course page for information on how to apply for the course.

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