It should be understood that the department regards the stated language requirements as representing an absolute minimum. The earlier the student acquires foreign language skills the better. Many fellowships for study abroad during the dissertation phase require reading and speaking ability of the language of the country in question. Students may consider using their summer vacations for intensive language study.
Each examination consists of one passage that is to be translated with the use of a dictionary. In general, passages are to be chosen from the primary and secondary literature concerning music. Sample examinations, as well as the departmental policy detailing expectations concerning level of expertise, amount, and kind of translation required are available in the Graduate Studies Office.
The languages must be approved by the Graduate Faculty and ordinarily will be ones in which there exists an extensive, significant, and diverse body of scholarly and/or theoretical writing on musical topics. If the faculty does not include a qualified examiner in a selected language, it will be the student’s responsibility to find a suitable examiner (subject to approval by the Graduate Faculty). Students are urged to discuss choice of languages with the DGS during the early stages of their program, since the knowledge of certain languages may be imperative for specific areas of specialization. A record of languages exams passed will appear on the student’s official Duke transcript.
Computer programming languages such as Java, Python, PHP, etc., are also acceptable languages for this requirement, particularly for composers working in electronic music and associated technology. If a student wishes to be examined in one of these languages, s/he must discuss the necessary arrangements with the DGS.
- The Music Department recognizes that professional needs in languages for Composition, Ethnomusicology Musicology, and Performance Practice may differ. However, the standards for judging reading knowledge remain the same for all. Everyone must show they can read at a level useful to him or her.
- To insure that the required foreign languages are mastered early enough in a student’s program to be useful in course work and research, the department requires that the first language exam be taken in the fall semester of the first year. If the exam has not been passed by the fall of the second year, progress toward the degree will be declared unsatisfactory, and the student becomes ineligible for fellowship funding. Funding can be reinstated only for the semester following the one in which the exam has been passed.
- For the en route A.M. in Performance Practice, demonstration of reading knowledge of one language is required.
- For the Ph.D. in Composition, demonstration of reading knowledge of one language is required. This requirement is fulfilled as part of the en route A.M. requirements.
- For the Ph.D. in Ethnomusicology, reading knowledge of one language is required. This requirement is fulfilled as part of the en route A.M. requirements.
- For the Ph.D. in Musicology, demonstration of reading knowledge in two foreign languages is required. The first language requirement is fulfilled as part of the en route A.M. requirements. The first language exam must be taken in the first semester of the first year of study. The second language exam must be passed by the end of the fifth semester after matriculation and before taking the Preliminary Exam in order to maintain satisfactory progress toward the degree (see conditions under #2 above). This requirement may not be satisfied with two closely related languages (e.g., Spanish and Portuguese). Please note that at the dissertation stage, a student’s dissertation committee may require further language study.
- English may count as one of the foreign languages for students who are not English speakers.
- Students entering the program with a completed Master’s degree must take language exams regardless of past experience at other institutions.