Entering graduate students will be required to complete a diagnostic test in music theory and in aural skills. Descriptions of these tests appear below:

Written Theory

The written theory test is in three parts: part-writing, tonal analysis, and post-tonal materials. Descriptions of each section are below. Students whose combined score on the first two of these parts is below 75% will be required to complete remedial work. The third section (post-tonal materials) is for information purposes only; student scores for this section will not play a role in determining whether a student requires remedial work. Remedial work may include sitting in on MUS 142, 241, 341, or taking MUS 576, as recommended by the theory/composition area. Students who are asked to sit in on MUS 142, 241, or 341 must complete all assigned homework and tests, earning an average of at least 80%. Students who are required to take MUS 576 must do so in the first semester and earn a score of 80% or higher.

Part I (part-writing): students will be asked to part-write progressions in four voices given figured-bass symbols and Roman numerals. Progressions will contain tonicizations and chromatic harmonies such as the Neapolitan, augmented-sixth chords, and modal mixture. Students will also be asked to demonstrate their knowledge of expected chord resolutions with fill-in-the-blank questions.

Part II (tonal analysis): students will be asked to analyze a piece of common-practice music using Roman numerals and figures. The piece may contain chromatic harmonies, tonicizations, and modulations. Students will be asked a variety of questions regarding the work’s form, and they will be asked to suggest a possible composer for the work, listing several characteristics that support their answer.

Part III (post-tonal materials): this section will not play a role in determining whether a student requires remedial work. Students will be asked to demonstrate familiarity with compositional techniques or strategies of twentieth- and twenty-first century music. In addition, students will be asked to analyze a given passage of music using set theory. Students who do not have any familiarity with these concepts may indicate so by leaving this section blank.

Aural Skills

The ear training test will cover the following: (1) simple melodic intervals; (2) diatonic melodic dictation (leaps not exceeding a perfect fifth); (3) diatonic and chromatic error detection (single line); (4) chord quality identification (triads and seventh chords); (5) aural analysis of chord progressions (mainly diatonic, a few secondary dominants); and, (6) rhythmic dictation (simple and compound meter). If a student gets a score below 75% on the graduate diagnostic test in ear training, he/she will be required to “sit in” on MUS 144 in the Spring of his or her first year of study, achieving an average of at least a 75% on the exams. If the student wishes to do so, he or she may retake the exam at the end of the first semester but no later than the first week of classes in the Spring Semester of the first year. If she or he passes the exam the second time with at least a 75% score, the requirement will be satisfied without taking MUS 144.

Practice Resources

Students who wish to review the concepts covered on the theory test are encouraged to consult Steven G. Laitz and Christopher Bartlette, Graduate Review of Tonal Theory (New York: Oxford University Press, 2009). Students who would prefer a guided review of these concepts may wish to consider ETheory: Graduate Music Theory Review, an online course offered by the Eastman School of Music that anyone may take for a fee.

Back to Top