Arranging: Advanced Horn Writing


Authored by Jerry Gates


Course Code: OCWPR-332

Next semester starts September 23

12 Weeks

Level 3

Level 3

3-Credit Tuition


Non-Credit Tuition


Learn more advanced arranging techniques for the rhythm section and horn section in this music arrangement course. In Arranging: Advanced Horn Writing, you'll learn unison, two-, three-, four-, and five-part writing, and study techniques for voicing chords, orchestration, articulations, and background lines. You'll also learn advanced topics of harmony, such as tension substitutions and lower interval limits, knowledge that you can use to create more expressive and captivating music for both live instrumentation or sequenced/sampled sounds.

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By the end of this course, you will:

  • Understand four-part soli and four-way close
  • Define and understand mechanical voicings
  • Use and understand approach chords
  • Understand low interval limits, spread voicings (five-part and internal lines)
  • Understand mixed voicings (two, three, and four parts)
  • Define and understand emotional contour
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Overview Syllabus Requirements Instructors
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Lesson 1: Chord Symbol Review/Introduction to 4-Part Soli and 4-Way Close

  • Major Chords
  • Minor Chords
  • Dominant Chords
  • Augmented Chords
  • Diminished Chords
  • Half-Diminished Chords
  • Introduction to 4-Part Soli and 4-Way Close

Lesson 2: Mechanical Voicings

  • Special Case Voicing: Root in the Melody of a Dominant-7(b9) Chord
  • Mechanical Voicings: Drop-2 Technique
  • Flat-9 Intervals on Chords other than Dominant-7(b9)
  • Mechanical Voicings: Drop-3 Technique

Lesson 3: Mechanical Voicings (Continued)

  • Drop 2 & 4 Voicings
  • Adding a Fifth Horn to a Mechanical Voicing
  • Combining Mechanical Voicings

Lesson 4: Low Interval Limits

  • Low Interval Limit Guide
  • Assumed Roots

Lesson 5: The Arranging Process and Midterm Project

  • Considerations Before Writing Pitches
  • The Arranging Process

Lesson 6: Soli Approach Chords

  • Diatonic Approach-Chord Harmonization
  • Chromatic Approach-Chord Harmonization

Lesson 7: Soli Approach Chords (Continued) 

  • Parallel Approach
  • Dominant Approach

Lesson 8: Spread Voicings, Part 1

  • Four-Part Spread Voicings from a Given Melody
  • Four-Part Spreads as Support to Melody or Soloist

Lesson 9: Spread Voicings, Part 2

  • Five-Part Spread Voicings from a Given Melody
  • Spread Voicings: Different Rhythms
  • Independence of Inside Voices

Lesson 10: Mixed Voicings—2, 3 & 4 Parts/Assignment of Final Project

  • Tension or Chordal Resolution
  • Building Background Ideas

Lesson 11: Conceptually Constructing an Arrangement

  • Conceptualizing the Arrangement
  • Laying Out the Arrangement

Lesson 12: Concluding Discussion Regarding Final Project

  • Conceptual Aspects
  • The Introduction Part One
  • The Introduction Part Two
  • The First Verse (First A)
  • The Second Verse (Second A)
  • The First B Section
  • The Third Verse (Third A)
  • The Solo Section: Open Solo
  • The Solo Section: Releasing The Open Solo
  • The Last A and B Sections


Prerequisites and Course-Specific Requirements 

Prerequisite Courses, Knowledge, and/or Skills
Completion of Arranging: Small Ensemble and Horns or equivalent knowledge and experience is required. Recommended experience in a DAW of choice.

  • Understanding of chord symbols
  • Understanding of standard rhythm section writing practices
  • Understanding of 2 and 3 - part soli writing (2/3 voices with same rhythm)
  • Familiarization with Diatonic and Chromatic Approach Chord harmonization
  • Triadic soli harmonization below the melody note (2/3 voices with same rhythm)
  • Rewriting melodies to fit a particular style - applying anticipations and delayed attacks



  • Students are required to submit MP3 files based on their scores which can be produced using either notation software, recording live musicians, or MIDI sequencing in a DAW of their choice.


  • Students are required to produce scores and submit them in PDF format. Options include:
    • Notation software (recommended option), such as Finale (full version), Sibelius (Artist or Ultimate), Dorico (Elements or Pro), MuseScore (free), etc.
    • Handwritten notation captured by a digital camera or a scanner can be used in lieu of notation software.


  • Recommended: One (or both) of the following studio monitoring options:
    • Studio monitors (pair), such as JBL 305Ps or better, as well as an audio interface and necessary cables
    • Over-ear studio headphones, such as Sennheiser HD 600, Sony MDR-7506, Philips SHP9500, Audio-Technica ATH-M50x, etc.
  • Recommended: Printer, if you would like to print out examples used in the course.

Student Deals
After enrolling, be sure to check out our Student Deals page for various offers on software, hardware, and more. Please contact with any questions.

General Course Requirements

Below are the minimum requirements to access the course environment and participate in Live Classes. Please make sure to also check the Prerequisites and Course-Specific Requirements section above, and ensure your computer meets or exceeds the minimum system requirements for all software needed for your course. 

Mac Users

PC Users

All Users

  • Latest version of Google Chrome
  • Zoom meeting software
  • Webcam
  • Speakers or headphones
  • External or internal microphone
  • Broadband Internet connection


Jerry Gates


Composer, producer, educator, orchestrator and arranger Jerry Gates has been a music industry professional for over thirty-five years. At Berklee College of Music, he teaches in the Contemporary Writing and Production Department and has taught most of the core classes in that major. He has authored Arranging For Horns through Berklee Press and Hal Leonard Publishing and has self published All Twelve: Dodecaphonic Sources For Contemporary Composition.

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For Berklee's online school, Jerry has authored Arranging: Rhythm Section and Horns, Arranging: Advanced Horns and Writing for Woodwinds and Strings for Additionally, Jerry teaches writing techniques such as contemporary composition, orchestration and arranging privately through his website, He is is one of four directors of the large ensemble recording orchestra at Berklee College of Music and at the rank of Professor teaches Contemporary Arranging techniques, Directed Studies in Arranging, Contemporary Twelve-Tone Composition, Orchestration, and Writing and Production in the Recording Studio.

Over a period of many years in the industry, Jerry has acquired skills that allow him to work in a number of different capacities. He finds that this variety of skills allows him to be valuable to a client. This also keeps his job challenging as he never knows what role he will work in next. Working globally, Jerry's most recently completed projects include symphonic treatments and arranging original music for the Polish/German jazz quartet Poetic Jazz. He has produced, orchestrated and conducted string sessions for noted Egyptian producer/Arab Idol judge Hassan El Shafei. Jerry has also produced, composed and arranged music for Nestlé’s "Wonk Your Room" online promotion and’s "Loss For Lyrics" online Web promotion. Finally, Jerry composed the score for a documentary retrospective of Florida's poet laureate, the late Edmund Skellings titled, "Ed Skellings – In His Own Words."

His television and radio credits include Bank of America, Log Cabin maple syrup, Scope mouthwash, Marlboro cigarettes, and music preparation for "The Dennis Miller Show," jazz great Bill Holman, and film composers Jack Smalley and Richard Band. Read Less

Mark Costa


Mark Costa is a professional electric bassist who has performed and toured with numerous Australian and international artists. This list includes The Temptations, Tom Jones, Leo Sayer, Go West, Chris Isaak, Debbie Reynolds, Thelma Houston, Maxine Nightingale, Marcia Hines, Margaret Urlich, Shannon Noll, Guy Sebastian, Wa Wa Nee, James Morrison and John Foreman among many others.

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Mark is also a professional music arranger whose work can be heard on television and major live and theatrical productions such as "The Voice", "Young Talent Time", the NSW Schools Spectacular concerts, and "Priscilla - Queen of the Desert". Between 2003 and 2009, Mark was the resident bassist and one of the music arrangers for the hit television series “Australian Idol”.

Mark's academic studies were completed through the Sydney Conservatorium of Music where he received a Master of Music in Composition (Jazz) degree under the supervision of Bill Motzing in 2011 and an Associate Diploma in Jazz Studies in 1997. He is currently a PhD candidate majoring in Composition at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music under the supervision of Prof. Matthew Hindson and Ross Edwards. Mark has also completed several courses in arranging, jazz composition, jazz improvisation, counterpoint, orchestration and digital music production through Berkleemusic. Mark spent many years at the Australian Institute of Music (AIM) where he lectured classes in bass, music theory, arranging, songwriting and digital music technology. Between 2011 and 2014, Mark was the full-time lecturer and course coordinator for the Contemporary Department, and then Head of the Academic Studies department at AIM. Mark’s other educational achievements include weekly lectures in contemporary music arranging at the University of Western Sydney (UWS) between 2010-2011, and an arranging seminar at Macquarie University in 2007. Read Less


Contact our Academic Advisors by phone at 1-866-BERKLEE (U.S.), 1-617-747-2146 (INT'L), or by email at

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