Arranging: Advanced Horn Writing

Author: Jerry Gates   •   Course Code: OCWPR-332

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.

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

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

Jerry Gates

Author & Instructor

Educator, composer, arranger, and bassist Jerry Gates has been a music industry professional for over thirty - five years. 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. As a professor at Berklee College of Music, he teaches Contemporary Arranging Techniques, Directed Studies in Arranging, Contemporary Twelve-Tone Composition, Orchestration, Writing and Production in the Studio, and Music Preparation courses. His latest music can be found at

Jerry's most recently completed projects include orchestrating, conducting and producing a string session for the soon to be released Middle Eastern television series titled, "Sultana." The main composer for this series is Hassan El Shafei. He composed the electronic score for a retrospective on Florida's poet laureate, the late Edmund Skellings titled, "Ed Skellings – In His Own Words." Additionally, he composed, directed and produced music for Nestle's "Wonk Your Room" online promotion campaign. As an author, Jerry has written a book entitled "All Twelve—Dodecaphonic Sources For Contemporary Composition" and is currently writing an arranging book for Berklee Press and Hal Leonard tentatively titled, "Arranging for Horns."

He holds a Bachelor of Music degree from Berklee College of Music, a Master of Music/Composition degree from the Hartt School, and graduated from both the Television/Film Scoring and Composing/Arranging certificate programs at the former Grove School of Music in Los Angeles, CA.

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.

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.


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

Required Textbooks

None required

Software Requirements

  • You can produce scores in Finale (full version) or Sibelius and submit them as PDF, JPG, GIF, or pasted into DOC files. Note that Finale Notepad, PrintMusic, and Finale Guitar are not sufficient for use in the course. You can hand write scores, scan them, and submit them as PDF, JPG, GIF, or DOC files.

Mac Users

  • OS X 10.9 Mavericks or higher (click here for system requirements)
  • Latest version of Google Chrome

Windows Users

  • Windows 7 or higher (click here for system requirements)
  • Latest version of Google Chrome

Hardware Requirements

  • A printer is recommended, so that you can print out scores used in the course If you are going to create scores by hand, you will need a scanner to put them in electronic format (see Software Requirements above for acceptable formats).
  • 2 GB RAM (4 GB recommended)
  • 500 MB hard drive space
  • Speakers or headphone
  • Webcam
  • Internet connection with at least 4 Mbps download speed ( to verify or download the Speedtest by Ookla app from your mobile app store)


Got a question? Contact our Academic Advisors by phone at 1-866-BERKLEE (U.S.), 1-617-747-2146 (INT'L), or by email at We can also answer basic questions in the comments below. Please note that all comments are public.

  • Level
  • Duration
    12 weeks
  • 3-Credit Tuition
  • or
  • Non-Credit Tuition

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