MUS31290 Introduction to the Orchestra

Academic Year 2021/2022

This module shall ultimately focus on techniques of orchestration, following historical and practical approaches to the orchestra and its repertoire. It shall be delivered via three main units: 1. History of the Orchestra; 2. Instrumentation; 3. Analysis of Orchestration. Several aspects of Western art music shall be explored through discussion of this signal ensemble, its origins and evolution into the modern symphony orchestra.

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Curricular information is subject to change

Learning Outcomes:

Following this module, students should:
• understand the evolution of the orchestra from the early Baroque to the present;
• be familiar with the genres and core repertoire associated with the orchestra;
• be proficient in the reading of complex orchestral scores;
• posses both a basic theoretical and practical understanding of instrumentation;
• comfortably analyse and critique sophisticated orchestration techniques and styles.

Indicative Module Content:

Unit 1: History of the Orchestra: development, cultural/historical contexts, proportions, function, repertoire
Unit 2: Instrumentation: rudiments, techniques, character/timbre, ranges, attributes, standard usage
Unit 3: Analysis of Orchestration: concepts, styles, orchestrating from piano score, pitch and colour fields

Student Effort Hours: 
Student Effort Type Hours


Seminar (or Webinar)


Autonomous Student Learning




Approaches to Teaching and Learning:
Task-based learning.
Listening and reactive discussion.
Critical writing. 
Requirements, Exclusions and Recommendations

Not applicable to this module.

Module Requisites and Incompatibles
Not applicable to this module.
Assessment Strategy  
Description Timing Open Book Exam Component Scale Must Pass Component % of Final Grade
Essay: Independent analysis of the orchestration of a given work Coursework (End of Trimester) n/a Graded No


Assignment: Orchestration of a short piano piece for strings and winds Week 10 n/a Graded No


Class Test: Listening test on representative orchestral works Week 5 n/a Graded No


Carry forward of passed components
Resit In Terminal Exam
Spring No
Please see Student Jargon Buster for more information about remediation types and timing. 
Feedback Strategy/Strategies

• Feedback individually to students, post-assessment

How will my Feedback be Delivered?

Not yet recorded.

Adler: The Study of Orchestration (Norton, 2002)
Lawson: The Cambridge Companion to the Orchestra (CUP, 2003)
Rimsky-Korsakov: Principles of Orchestration (Dover, 1964)
Sevsay: The Cambridge Guide to Orchestration (CUP, 2013)
Spitzter & Zaslaw: The Birth of the Orchestra. History of an Institution, 1650–1815 (OUP 2004)