MUSIC 3054: Introduction to Vocal-Choral Arranging
Fall 2002--Index #93793--12:20-1:10 MWF--Room 162
Professor John R. Howell



Note: This Syllabus has NOT been updated for 2002. There will be significant differences.

3054 Home | Syllabus | Projects | Instructor

Time and Place: 12:20-1:10 MWF in 162

Instructor: Prof. John R. Howell

Office: 160 Squires

Office Hours:E-mail 24 hours a day: In person by appointment.

Telephone: Office 231-8411; Department 231-5685; Home 953-1928.

(Please do not call at home unless it is really necessary.)

Class Materials


Course Objectives

Students successfully completing Music 3054 will understand vocal ranges and limitations; the differences among common vocal styles; voicings and how they contribute to specific styles; the specific terminology associated with arranging and recording; how to lay out an arranging project and how to prepare it for printing and/or recording; and will have learned the importance and techniques of rhythmic, melodic, and harmonic dictation and transcription.

Course Specifics

1. Prerequisites include knowledge of music theory, ear training, counterpoint and analysis equivalent to 2 years as a college music major, or permission of the instructor. Basic ability to create logical and suitable harmonizations and chord progressions is expected. This is a laboratory course in which theoretical knowledge and skills are put to work. It may not be audited or taken pass/fail.

2. It is understood that every student will be at a different point in developing the skills required of an arranger. Students are expected to approach assignments based on their existing skill levels and, to the extent possible, grading will not be on an absolute scale but will reflect individual growth and development. For some students assignments will be minimally demanding. For others they may require a great deal of effort, but that effort will pay off in greater improvement in skills.

3. The approach in this class is contemporary, practical, and market-oriented, and not a survey of traditional choral arranging. (There are excellent books available on traditional arranging.)

4. Regular class attendance is absolutely required. Assignments are expected to be on time and finished. Genuine injury, severe illness, or family emergencies will be handled on an individual basis. Absences for tours by Music Department ensembles or professional activities are excused when the instructor is informed and assignments are turned in ahead of time. Work for other courses, social activities, or "my ride is leaving early" are never acceptable excuses; don't even ask!

5. Students are required to have Internet access. All class materials will be posted on the MUSIC 3054 pages at <>. Students are also required to have an active e-mail account and to check e-mail at least once a day. A class listserve will be established if students think it would be worthwhile. Questions or comments may be sent to the instructor by email at any time and will be answered as quickly as possible. Always put 3054 and nothing else as the "subject" line so the instructor can identify class messages and deal with them immediately.

6. Students will be writing partial or full vocal arrangements from beginning to end of the course, approximately one per week, beginning with the most basic and working toward the most creative. There will be a final project for which a complete arrangement will be written, singers and instrumentalists recruited and rehearsed, and a recording produced. Students will observe a transcription session to learn the procedure, but will not be required to turn in transcription assignments. There is no final exam.

  7. A final examination is not appropriate to this course. Instead there will be a Final Project which integrates everything that has been learned. The schedule and requirements of this Final Project are given on the Projects page..

Required Materials

There is no textbook. It is expected that most or all the work in this course will be done in Mosaic™ in the CAL/C Lab. Hand-written sketches may certainly be used if the student is uncomfortable working directly to the computer, but assignments must be turned in as Mosaic™ printout and as Mosaic™ files placed in the instructor's Drop-Box.

Bring a Mac-formatted floppy with at least 600k available to the first class to get copies of the Project Templates. Then put those templates in your own setup for the CAL/C lab (or other computers where you can access Mosaic).

For hand-copied arrangements, the following equipment is recommended:

1. Good quality 8 1/2 x 11 music manuscript paper (either 10- or 12-line), with margins rather than score lines that run off the edge of the paper.

2. Pencils that make a good, dark, readable mark, reproduce well, and erase well. I recommend the Dixon Ticonderoga No. 1 "Ex-Soft," a good artist's eraser, and an electric pencil sharpener. (Panasonic makes a cute little battery-operated one that seems to work very well.) An engineer's click pencil with hard lead is not an acceptable tool for a musician.

3. For the best quality finished hand work I recommend "Penstix" artist's pens, 0.3 mm for the music, 0.5 mm for titles, which are available at Mish-Mish.

4. A good ruler with a metal straightedge.

Evaluation and Grading:

Class attendance, 10 points each class, 390 points

10 Projects, 100 points each, 1000 points

Transcription week attendance, 150 points

Final Project, 300 points

Total: 1840 points, divided into the number of points earned by each student to give a grade percentage on a scale of 0%-100%.

A+ 96.6 - 100.00

B+ 86.6 - 89.99

C+ 76.6 - 79.99

D+ 66.6 - 69.99

F 0.00 - 59.99

A 93.3 - 96.59

B 83.3 - 86.59

C 73.3 - 76.59

D 63.3 - 66.59

A- 90.0 - 93.29

B- 80.0 - 83.29

C- 70.0 - 73.29

D- 60.0 - 63.29

Most problems can be solved. Questions? Ask!

3054 Home | Syllabus | Projects | Instructor