Writing for Instruments & Transposition

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This lesson is part of the Style & Compositional Techniques category.


  • Students will be familiar with the different families of instruments, their members, and their general characteristics.
  • Students will understand the concept of transposing instruments and be able transpose a melody for a particular instrument.
  • Students will be familiar with string instrument bowing, and be able to notate bowing in a string instrument part.
  • Students will be familiar with notation conventions for vocal scores, including proper hyphenation and use of melismas.
  • Students will be familiar with percussion notation conventions, including writing for unpitched instruments and drum set.


Class Activities[edit]

  • Discussion and demonstration of vocal registers and instruments from each family
  • Discussion regarding transpiring instruments
  • Transposition of a given melody for a particular transposing instrument
  • Demonstration of handling transposing instruments in notation software
  • Discussion and definition of notation conventions for string, vocal and percussion music
  • Viewing and discussing notated music using different instrument-specific conventions
  • Addition of bow markings to a given string melody
  • Transcription of a vocal melody which includes melismas
  • Transcription of a measure of a drum set beat and a one-measure fill


  • Transposition of a melody for a specified transposing instrument
  • Addition of bowing to a given string melody
  • Transcription of a recorded drum set beat
  • Transcription of a vocal melody