All incoming graduate students are required to take placement tests in Music History, Musicianship and 20th Century Analysis. If a student fails any or all tests, the student must enroll in the appropriate remedial course/s at the earliest opportunity that the class is offered.  Students will not be permitted to re-take the test in the event of failure.  Failure to take a placement test is considered an automatic “fail” and the student will be required to take the appropriate remedial course(s). Deficiencies are removed by earning a “Y” or “B-“ grade in required review courses.

Any questions about these examinations for incoming graduate students may be directed to:
Sharon Mirchandani, Chair, Music Composition, History and Theory Department or
Marjory Klein, Academic Coordinator


The graduate music history diagnostic examination includes five sections.  The first section asks you to identify the period, genre and possible composer of four listening excerpts. The second section asks you to identify the period, genre and possible composer of four scores.  Each listening excerpt and score is from a major work in the Western art music repertory.  The third section asks you to write a short essay on the history of a major genre in Western art music.  You will be given a list of three or four genres from which to choose.  The fourth section asks you to write a short essay on your choice of a major genre (traditional or popular) outside Western art music, and the final section asks you to write a short essay on a major issue in musicology or ethnomusicology, such as gender, psychology of music, performance practice, the economics of music, and musical technology.

For each score excerpt and each sound excerpt, name the genre (or style), an approximate date of composition (within 30 years), a possible composer, and at least three rationales for your answers.


  • Write a short history of one of the following genres:  Lieder, string quartet, symphony.  Your essay should discuss in some detail a major work by each of three major composers.
  • Write an essay that introduces a major musical tradition outside Western art music to a non-specialist audience.  This tradition can be “traditional” or “popular.”
  • How has one of the following critical traditions—feminism, performance practice, ecomusicology—affected the study and performance of music in recent decades?

Sample Resources for Sections 1-3

  • Taruskin / Gibbs, The Oxford History of Western Music
  • Bonds, History of Music in Western Culture
  • Poultney, Studying Music History
  • Grout / Palisca / Burkholder, A History of Western Music

Sample Resources for Section 4

  • Bakan, World Music: Traditions and Transformations
  • Titon, Worlds of Music: An Introduction to the Music of the World’s Peoples

Sample Resources for Section 5

  • Cook, Music: A Very Short Introduction
  • Harper / Samson, An Introduction to Music Studies