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Unit information: Practical Studies: Instrumentation and Conducting in 2015/16

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Unit name Practical Studies: Instrumentation and Conducting
Unit code MUSI10051
Credit points 10
Level of study C/4
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 1 (weeks 1 - 12)
Unit director Professor. Farwell
Open unit status Not open




School/department Department of Music
Faculty Faculty of Arts

Description including Unit Aims

This unit comprises an introduction to two fundamental aspects of practical musicianship: instrumentation and conducting. The unit takes as its starting-point the contention that converting notated music into sound is a social act, that music is written not just for a certain instrument or voice-range but for a performer who has to produce the sound. Practical experience of turning the notated arrangement into living sound is gained in the conducting sessions (in which students conduct ensembles draen from the rest of the group in rehearsals of the notated arrangements). This part of the unit also offers the opportunity to participate in a workshop recording session.


This unit aims to develop existing practical skills in the field of instrumentation and conducting by means of weekly workshop sessions allowing students to gain hands-on experience of the social act of rehearsing a group of individuals that lies behind successful ensemble performance. It has to do with the formation of a vision of how a notated work should be represented in sound, and the communication of that vision to others. It also deals with the process of negotiation required in producing the desired sound from the notated scores, and communicating the individual interpretation of that score in rehearsal and performance.

Intended Learning Outcomes

Successful completion of this unit will enable students to:

  • make effective and practical arrangements for small ensembles showing basic competence in writing for instruments and preparing performing materials.
  • show competence in basic conducting skills
  • show competence in rehearsal techniques, allowing the notated arrangement to transfer into live performance
  • display an ability to communicate an individual vision of a performance to other participants (eg an ensemble, or to ones accompanist)

Teaching Information

Lectures; workshops; seminars

Assessment Information

Instrumentation 50%; Conducting 50%.

Reading and References

  • Adler, S., The Study of Orchestration (New York, 1992)
  • Adler, S., Workbook for The Study of Orchestration (New York, 1992)
  • Blatter, A., Instrumentation and Conducting (New York, 1997)
  • Brendel, A., Music Sounded Out (London, 1993)
  • Dunsby, J., Performing Music: Shared Concerns (Oxford, 1993)
  • J.Rink (ed.), Musical Performance: A Guide to Understanding (Cambridge, 2003)