Music Theory



The validation/exemption exam for T252 includes both listening and written components, covering music written in the "Romantic era," roughly the years 1800-1910. The pieces in the Beethoven-to Debussy portion of Charles Burkhart's Anthology for Musical Analysis are representative of the period, and students preparing for the exam might find it helpful to review them, although familiarity with any specific pieces is not assumed.

The listening exam consists of a few excerpts about which students could be asked general stylistic questions (possible composer, approximate date), and possibly questions about instrumentation, texture, genre, form, etc. The questions are designed so that students with a good general grasp of the music of this period should be able to answer them even if they are not familiar with the specific excerpts. Part of the written exam is similar, but based on written score excerpts rather than on recorded excerpts. This format allows for more detailed analytical questions such as harmonic analysis, as well as possible score-reading questions (involving transposing instruments, for example). The written exam also includes a list of representative pieces (for example, Winterreise) and asks students to identify the composer (Schubert), genre (song cycle), and approximate date (from a multiple-choice list; e.g., 1820-1840) for about half of them-so students can pick the ones they know, but they must know some. Finally, there are some theoretical exercises, involving some part-writing with chromatic harmony and possibly modulations.

Theoretical topics potentially covered in the T252 exam include chromatic harmony; mode mixture and "borrowed chords"; chromatic key relationships; uses of diminished seventh, augmented sixth, and Neapolitan chords (including some less common types such as common-tone diminished sevenths and unusual inversions); nonfunctional linear progressions; extended tertian and added-note chords; tonal structure and organization; formal designs; motivic development; rhythmic devices; and considerations of orchestration, texture, and text setting. The more advanced portions of texts such as The Complete Musician, 2nd edition, by Steven Laitz and Harmony in Context by Miguel A. Roig-Francolí cover much of this material well and might be useful to students preparing for this exam.

The listening and written exams together take about 90 minutes. To exempt T252, a student must earn a Conditional Pass on the exam and complete one additional requirement, a written analysis paper to be completed during the semester in which the exam is taken. Students who pass the exam will receive additional information about the paper assignment.