Graduate Entrance Exams
At the beginning of their first semester, all entering students must complete the history and music systems entrance examinations in their entirety. Failure to do so will prevent entering the program or taking any courses toward the MA, including Music 200.
If the examination is failed in its entirety, the student will not be admitted to the master’s program. The examination, or portions thereof, may be retaken only once. The Graduate Coordinator/Advisor will be available to advise the student on courses and strategies in preparation of retaking the examination.
If only portions of the examination are failed, the Committee will designate courses that will best meet the deficiencies. To remove the deficiencies, the student may elect to:
- retake that portion of the entrance examination. This retake may be done only once; or
- register for the designated course and achieve a minimum grade of B; or
- take the final exam by special arrangement with the instructor and achieve a minimum grade of B.
In either event, all deficiencies must be satisfied by the end of the second semester of residency or within the first 10 units of study. The student may not take any core courses beyond Music 200 until all deficiencies are satisfied.
Music History Examination
This examination consists of essay questions from six different periods of music history: Medieval, Renaissance, Baroque, Classical, Romantic, and Twentieth Century. For each period, you choose one of two or three essay questions you feel best qualified to answer. You are given three hours for the entire exam, which averages at thirty minutes per essay. Therefore, you should aim for short, well-organized essays. If certain periods are left unanswered, the examiners will have to assume that you have no knowledge of those subjects; you will then need to remove this deficiency before being admitted to Classified status.
The questions are broadly based and designed to determine your basic understanding of the issues of music history knowledge usually gained in undergraduate music history classes. One sample essay question from a previous year’s exam asked the student to discuss the history of the motet in the medieval period.
There are as many ways to prepare for the exam as there are students. If you had an excellent undergraduate music history course, you may wish to review your old text and the notes you took. If more serious preparation is necessary, download the list of review materials.
Please do not be overwhelmed by this list of materials suggested for your music history review. Choose the ones that may be of help as you prepare for the exam. If you have any questions about the exams, please consult the Music History Coordinator, Dr. Gordon Haramaki.
Music Systems Examination
Aural Analysis (1 hour and 30 minutes)
Dictation (performed at the piano):
- Notate one or more angular, non-tonal melody, with metric ambiguity.
- Notate one tonal duet.
- Notate one or more modal melodies.
- Notate one or more tonal chromatic four-part choral harmonization (SATB); provide complete harmonic analysis.
- Identify various harmonic structures (e.g. tonal triads, extended tonal chords, secundal/quartal, whole-tone, non-tonal aggregates)
Aural Identification (presented via electronic means):
Be able to identify various parameters and list their musical significance in various compositions. Parameters may include sound sources & timbre, density & texture, rhythm, formal structure, tonality, melody, and harmony.
Individual sight-singing equivalent to Junior level proficiency.
Visual Analysis (2 hours):
Most students select two of the following subject areas. Candidates for the Composition program of study select the designated exam for that area.
Counterpoint (1 hour). Prepare to complete short composition exercises in two of the following three systems:
- 16th-century modal counterpoint
- 18th-century tonal counterpoint
- 20th-century non-tonal counterpoint
Form and Analysis (1 hour). Prepare to give the approximate date of composition for each of the test examples and provide a technical, structural analysis of two.
Orchestration (1 hour). Prepare to:
- Provide the clef, range, and transpositions of selected instruments.
- Give a short definition of six terms related to instrument usage.
- Indicate an accepted notation for drum-kit.
- Orchestrate an eight-measure piano example for a prescribed chamber ensemble of nine instruments.
Electronic Music (1 hour). Prepare to discuss:
- The design and architecture of one commercially available synthesizer (sampler) of your choice
- Specific types of signal processing and synthesis techniques found in today’s instruments
- Time synchronization in today’s recording technology
- The design and use of alternate controllers
- One masterwork (of your choice) of computer/electro-acoustic music
Jazz Theory (1 hour). Prepare to arrange (score) an eight measure melody (with chords given) twice through for an ensemble of no less than three winds and rhythm section.
Improvised Music Studies (1 hour). Prepare to demonstrate knowledge of jazz and other improvisational idioms. See the following assorted books/ references in jazz and improvisation studies and related literature.