Diagnostic Examination

Diagnostic Examination (Composition & Musicology)

The Diagnostic Examination is administered to all entering students once a year immediately before the start of the fall semester.  This exam is intended to ascertain the entering student’s level of musicianship skills, and identify areas in need of practice. This information helps the faculty to prepare students adequately for careers in teaching and research.  All students must take the entire exam once. Each portion of the exam will be graded on a Pass/Fail basis. Those students who fail any part of the exam will have the option to retake the failed sections during the following fall semester.  Depending on the result, the student may be advised on a course of action that will remedy these weaknesses, e.g., in case of serious deficiencies, no-credit participation in an undergraduate course or private tutoring.  Retakes are strongly encouraged but not mandatory.

The Diagnostic Exam consists of seven parts, described as follows (with suggested textbooks that you may wish to consult):

Exam Section

Suggested Study Reference

1. Harmonization of a simple melody (e.g., a chorale tune). 

Students may check their work at the keyboard during the exam.

Aldwell and Schachter, Harmony and Voice Leading
2. Realization at the keyboard of either a relatively simple, short figured bass or a recitative, or of a jazz-standard lead sheet; example to be sung and played. Students may choose between the two genres.
 
A few moments of preparation time at the keyboard is permitted prior to performing before the examiners.
 
Aldwell and Schachter, Harmony and Voice Leading and Levine, The Jazz Theory Book.

3. Score reading at the keyboard; relatively easy passages will be selected, such as the slow movement of a string quartet or symphony.

A few moments of preparation time at the keyboard is permitted prior to performing before the examiners.

Morris and Ferguson, Preparatory Exercises in Score Reading
4. Aural identification of intervals and chords, melodic and rhythmic dictation.  
5. Sight singing; students will be asked to sight sing at a level of difficulty expected in an advanced undergraduate class. Consult Ottman, Music for Sightsinging,  Chapter 13 forward.

6. Identification and historical placement of 10 score excerpts, by prose commentary.

Demonstrate your understanding of the piece in its historical context, based on discussion of style and other features of the score. Include suggestions about the identity of the composer, the type of composition, and an approximate date.

Fuller, The European Musical Heritage: 800-1750; Burkholder, Norton Anthology of Western Music; Morgan, Anthology of Twentieth Century Music, Martin and Wat
ers, Jazz: The First 100 Years

7. Analysis of a common-practice tonal piece given to you in advance.

Stein, ed., Engaging Music, chapters 8, 14, 15, 17, 19

 

Diagnostic Examination (Ethnomusicology)

The Diagnostic Exam, administered upon entry, consists of six parts:

  • For incoming students with majors other than music: a short proficient performance on any instrument in any style.
  • Identification of sounds of production (recording and processing) from recorded examples.
  • Aural identification of intervals and chords.
  • Sight singing at a level of difficulty expected in an advanced undergraduate class.
  • Identification and discussion of 8 out of 10 excerpts of “iconic” styles from around the world, by prose commentary, demonstrating an understanding of the style in its historical, geopolitical, social, or generic context, based on discussion of stylistic features of the track.
  • Transcription of a short piece given to the student in advance.

With the exception of those requirements above that are shared with other tracks, the examination will be administered by Ethnomusicology track faculty.