• Class Number 3709
  • Term Code 2930
  • Class Info
  • Unit Value 6 units
  • Mode of Delivery In Person
    • Dr Christopher Sainsbury
    • Dr Christopher Sainsbury
  • Class Dates
  • Class Start Date 25/02/2019
  • Class End Date 31/05/2019
  • Census Date 31/03/2019
  • Last Date to Enrol 04/03/2019
SELT Survey Results

This course addresses skills required to compose music for small standard combinations including: choir, piano plus two, and for saxophone quartet, contemporary rock and jazz groups. Working with these standard combinations focuses on the development of essential four-part writing technique (homophonic and polyphonic). Related to these creative tasks students will be guided in analysis of pieces from a range of genres, styles and cultures with reference to: scales and series, harmony and form, counterpoint and texture, orchestration – composing with colours.

Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion, students will have the knowledge and skills to:

Upon successful completion of this course, students will have the knowledge and skills to:
  1.  Understand compositional and orchestration techniques involved in writing for four independent voices (i.e. linear instrumental or vocal parts);
  2.  Analyse compositions using four independent voices;
  3.  Create original compositions for four independent voices; and
  4.  Communicate key decisions taken during the creative process through an exegesis.

These do not have to be purchased/are in library and/or section.

  • Actual listening examples, copious score excerpts and reading examples as presented in lecture sessions.
  • Relevant Orchestration texts (Lovelock, Keenan, Solomon, Stiller, Piston, Rimsky-Korsakov, Mancini, others)
  • Robert P. Morgan Anthology of Twentieth Century Music (New York and London: W.W. Norton & Co. Inc., 1992)
  • Paul Griffiths Modern Music and After (New York: Oxford University Press, 2010)
  • Arnold Whittall Musical Composition in the Twentieth Century (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1999).
  • Further scores and texts as recommended in class sessions.

Note: Students are encouraged to source their own relevant examples. Others will be distributed as per need. 

Staff Feedback

Students will be given feedback in the following forms in this course: written comments (including 'red pen' to scores), verbal comments, progress feedback to the whole class, to smaller groups, to individuals.

Student Feedback

ANU is committed to the demonstration of educational excellence and regularly seeks feedback from students. Students are encouraged to offer feedback directly to their Course Convener or through their College and Course representatives (if applicable). The feedback given in these surveys is anonymous and provides the Colleges, University Education Committee and Academic Board with opportunities to recognise excellent teaching, and opportunities for improvement. The Surveys and Evaluation website provides more information on student surveys at ANU and reports on the feedback provided on ANU courses.

Other Information

Composition Techniques to include late C20th interpretations of techniques and expressions non-comprehensively inclusive of: micro-structural organisation, rhythmic focus, linear motion as texture, approximate linear motion, density within texture, dispersal techniques, co-situations, composing simplicities, time techniques, tone colour techniques, transforming note techniques, piano texture – central working platform, counter-indication composing and scoring, aleatoric techniques, co-situations (working with disparate groups of material), polyphony of motives and more. This is a non-comprehensive listing drawn from leading Twentieth Century and Twenty-first Century music analysts Paul Griffiths, Arnold Whittall and Boguslaw Shaffer. 

Class Schedule

Week/Session Summary of Activities Assessment
1 Course Overview including Assessments discussion. Writing art songs: lyric writing, melody, accompaniment (chord progression, rhythm and figuration, texture). Britten, Grieg, De Falla, others. See assessment schedule below.
2 Writing for Piano: chord progression, rhythm and texture including complex texture. Bach, Kagel, Bartok, Kurtag, Kats-Chernin, Schoenberg, Webern, Evans, Ginastera, Gubaidulina, Satie, others.
3 Writing Arts Songs: continued Writing for Piano: continued
4 Writing for Choir: SATB and SAB, ranges, voicing, voice leading. Homophonic textures in Mozart, in African a cappella works, Stanford, pop arrangements, others. Simple polyphonic textures in Mozart and Morley (eg; imitation).
5 Oral presentations by students (where students direct content and learning)
6 Choir: Polyphonic and complex textures. Vivaldi, Walton, USA First Nations composer Brent Michael Davids, Valentin Silvestrov, others.
7 Writing for Piano Trio: Works by Rachmaninoff, Cowell, Messiaen (sections of Qt End of Time), others.
8 Cultural context in music composition: Indigenous composers in focus
9 Writing for Small Mixed Trio/quartet: Bartok, Rorem, Dean, Oliveros, Henze, Smetanin, Al-zand, others.
10 Writing for Small Mixed Trio/quartet: continued
11 Jazz and Popular Music Writing Techniques in Small Ensembles. Ellington, Brubeck, others.
12 Composer and performer workshop presentations. Revision and consolidation.

Assessment Summary

Assessment task Value Due Date Return of assessment Learning Outcomes
Oral presentation 6 - 8 mins 10 % 27/03/2019 26/04/2019 2
Analysis 15 % 03/05/2019 17/05/2019 1,2
Portfolio piece 1 30 % 03/05/2019 17/05/2019 1,3
Portfolio piece 2 30 % 31/05/2019 15/06/2019 1,3
Exegesis 15 % 31/05/2019 15/06/2019 3,4

* If the Due Date and Return of Assessment date are blank, see the Assessment Tab for specific Assessment Task details


ANU has educational policies, procedures and guidelines, which are designed to ensure that staff and students are aware of the University’s academic standards, and implement them. Students are expected to have read the Academic Misconduct Rule before the commencement of their course. Other key policies and guidelines include:

Assessment Requirements

The ANU is using Turnitin to enhance student citation and referencing techniques, and to assess assignment submissions as a component of the University's approach to managing Academic Integrity. For additional information regarding Turnitin please visit the ANU Online website. Students may choose not to submit assessment items through Turnitin. In this instance you will be required to submit, alongside the assessment item itself, hard copies of all references included in the assessment item.

Moderation of Assessment

Marks that are allocated during Semester are to be considered provisional until formalised by the College examiners meeting at the end of each Semester. If appropriate, some moderation of marks might be applied prior to final results being released.

Assessment Task 1

Value: 10 %
Due Date: 27/03/2019
Return of Assessment: 26/04/2019
Learning Outcomes: 2

Oral presentation 6 - 8 mins

Effectively communicate on a piece, on an instrument or instrumental technique, on an element/s of music, on context inherent within a piece (cultural context or era, political context, religious context, moral or social context).

Assessment Rubrics

Value: 10%

Presentation requirements: 6 - 8 mins. Oral Presentation. May also use whiteboard, handouts, overhead, video, audio, instruments. 

Estimated return date: As above

Assessment Task 2

Value: 15 %
Due Date: 03/05/2019
Return of Assessment: 17/05/2019
Learning Outcomes: 1,2


Analysis of a short piece from a genre currently being studied (700 words).

Assessment Rubrics

Word limit: 700 words

Value: 15%

Presentation requirements: Written analysis with possible excerpts from score. Effectively communicate on a piece pertaining to element/s of music and/or context (cultural context or era, political context, religious context, moral or social context).

Estimated return date: As above.

Assessment Task 3

Value: 30 %
Due Date: 03/05/2019
Return of Assessment: 17/05/2019
Learning Outcomes: 1,3

Portfolio piece 1

Portfolio of 2 works, 8 - 12 mins in total.

Value: 30% (for a cappella choral piece, or art song – voice with piano), and 30% (for mixed ensemble piece or piano trio). Total 60%.

Presentation requirements: Score plus indicative sounding version. Hard copy score to be bound and handed to lecturer as per industry standard. Accompanying mp3 on a clearly labelled USB stick must be stuck to front of score.

Estimated return date: Week 8, and exam week.

Assessment Task 4

Value: 30 %
Due Date: 31/05/2019
Return of Assessment: 15/06/2019
Learning Outcomes: 1,3

Portfolio piece 2

Portfolio of 2 works, 8 - 12 mins in total.

Value: 30% (for a cappella choral piece, or art song – voice with piano), and 30% (for mixed ensemble piece or piano trio). Total 60%.

Presentation requirements: Score plus indicative sounding version. Hard copy score to be bound and handed to lecturer as per industry standard. Accompanying mp3 on a clearly labelled USB stick must be stuck to front of score.

Estimated return date: Week 8, and exam week.

Assessment Task 5

Value: 15 %
Due Date: 31/05/2019
Return of Assessment: 15/06/2019
Learning Outcomes: 3,4


Exegetical writing on your composition/s. Expectations are analysis of the music and its context, reflection of the journey in your composing, how you arrived at the creative decisions you made. 

Word limit: 700 words

Value: 15%

Presentation requirements: Word doc. Via turnitin.

Estimated return date: Exam week

Academic Integrity

Academic integrity is a core part of our culture as a community of scholars. At its heart, academic integrity is about behaving ethically. This means that all members of the community commit to honest and responsible scholarly practice and to upholding these values with respect and fairness. The Australian National University commits to embedding the values of academic integrity in our teaching and learning. We ensure that all members of our community understand how to engage in academic work in ways that are consistent with, and actively support academic integrity. The ANU expects staff and students to uphold high standards of academic integrity and act ethically and honestly, to ensure the quality and value of the qualification that you will graduate with. The University has policies and procedures in place to promote academic integrity and manage academic misconduct. Visit the following Academic honesty & plagiarism website for more information about academic integrity and what the ANU considers academic misconduct. The ANU offers a number of services to assist students with their assignments, examinations, and other learning activities. The Academic Skills and Learning Centre offers a number of workshops and seminars that you may find useful for your studies.

Online Submission

You will be required to electronically sign a declaration as part of the submission of your assignment. Please keep a copy of the assignment for your records. Unless an exemption has been approved by the Associate Dean (Education) as submission must be through Turnitin. This will be used for all exegesis or exegeses.

Hardcopy Submission

For some forms of assessment (hand written assignments, art works, laboratory notes, etc.) hard copy submission is appropriate when approved by the Associate Dean (Education). Hard copy submissions must utilise the Assignment Cover Sheet. Please keep a copy of tasks completed for your records. Please provide music scores for all musical works with sounding examples (live or electronic) to lecturer. 

Late Submission

Late submission of assessment tasks without an extension are penalised at the rate of 5% of the possible marks available per working day or part thereof. Late submission of assessment tasks is not accepted after 10 working days after the due date, or on or after the date specified in the course outline for the return of the assessment item. Late submission is not accepted for take-home examinations.

Referencing Requirements

Accepted academic practice for referencing sources that you use in presentations can be found via the links on the Wattle site, under the file named “ANU and College Policies, Program Information, Student Support Services and Assessment”. Alternatively, you can seek help through the Students Learning Development website.

Returning Assignments

Marks will be posted on Wattle and assignments with comments will be physically returned.

Extensions and Penalties

Extensions and late submission of assessment pieces are covered by the Student Assessment (Coursework) Policy and Procedure. The Course Convener may grant extensions for assessment pieces that are not examinations or take-home examinations. If you need an extension, you must request an extension in writing on or before the due date. If you have documented and appropriate medical evidence that demonstrates you were not able to request an extension on or before the due date, you may be able to request it after the due date.

Resubmission of Assignments

In special circumstances as negotiated with lecturer.

Privacy Notice

The ANU has made a number of third party, online, databases available for students to use. Use of each online database is conditional on student end users first agreeing to the database licensor’s terms of service and/or privacy policy. Students should read these carefully. In some cases student end users will be required to register an account with the database licensor and submit personal information, including their: first name; last name; ANU email address; and other information.
In cases where student end users are asked to submit ‘content’ to a database, such as an assignment or short answers, the database licensor may only use the student’s ‘content’ in accordance with the terms of service – including any (copyright) licence the student grants to the database licensor. Any personal information or content a student submits may be stored by the licensor, potentially offshore, and will be used to process the database service in accordance with the licensors terms of service and/or privacy policy.
If any student chooses not to agree to the database licensor’s terms of service or privacy policy, the student will not be able to access and use the database. In these circumstances students should contact their lecturer to enquire about alternative arrangements that are available.

Distribution of grades policy

Academic Quality Assurance Committee monitors the performance of students, including attrition, further study and employment rates and grade distribution, and College reports on quality assurance processes for assessment activities, including alignment with national and international disciplinary and interdisciplinary standards, as well as qualification type learning outcomes.

Since first semester 1994, ANU uses a grading scale for all courses. This grading scale is used by all academic areas of the University.

Support for students

The University offers students support through several different services. You may contact the services listed below directly or seek advice from your Course Convener, Student Administrators, or your College and Course representatives (if applicable).

Dr Christopher Sainsbury
02 6125 1228

Research Interests

Composition, Australian Music, Indigenous Australian Music, Guitar music

Dr Christopher Sainsbury

Tuesday 09:00 12:00
Dr Christopher Sainsbury

Research Interests

Dr Christopher Sainsbury

Tuesday 09:00 12:00

Responsible Officer: Registrar, Student Administration / Page Contact: Website Administrator / Frequently Asked Questions