C.U.N.Y. Ph.D Program in Music
All doctoral candidates in Theory are required to pass the Musicianship Exam described below. This exam must be passed before the Second Exam is attempted. Students are expected to attempt at least part of the exam each semester until they have passed all of it.
1. Play a Bach chorale or similar piece in “open score,” with the upper three parts in C clefs (soprano, alto, and tenor). (Open-score editions are available in most libraries and music stores.)
2. Realize a figured bass in “keyboard style” (3 voices in the R.H., bass only in the L.H.) Be prepared to play examples either with or without a given soprano line. For figured basses with soprano line given, see J. S. Bach’s figured-bass chorales. For figured basses without a given soprano line, see the trio or solo sonatas of Corelli, Handel, etc.
3. Play an orchestral passage (probably from a work in a slow tempo, or a minuet), reading from the full score. See the slow introductions, slow movements, and minuet movements from symphonies by Haydn, Mozart, and Beethoven. You can expect to see two or three transposing instruments among the woodwind and brass instruments (for example, clarinets in A, plus horns and trumpets in D).
4. Reading from a complicated late 19th- or early 20th-century score (e.g., Elektra or Sacre du printemps), play requested details on the piano -- for example, a series of chords in the (four) horns, the part of the Posaune(n) (notated in tenor clef), the part of the Cor anglais, or the Tr. picc. (Re), the Fl. in Sol, the Clar. picc. (Mi b), the Bratsche, etc. Also: Translate into English any foreign terms or directions found on the page, for example: Flatterzunge, Dämpfer weg, con sord., muta in la, très retenu, au mouvement, etc.
5. Be able to play illustrations in any key, major or minor, of any chord
or usage commonly taught in undergraduate courses in tonal theory. Playing in keyboard style and maintaining a clear meter, let each illustration begin on the tonic chord, end on a cadence, and consist altogether of around 5 or 6 chords. Possible requested usages:
the cadential 6/4 chord
the cadential II6
V4/2 of VI
VIIo7 of V
bVI in a major key
the Neapolitan sixth
the augmented sixth chords
(Italian, French, German)
a sequence based on descending fifths
a modulation from any major or minor key to the key of its III, IV, V, or VI
modulation to more distant keys, e.g., from
f minor to E major; A flat major to
B minor; etc.
In 2-part species counterpoint illustrate
a passing tone, the double neighbor formula,
a 7 - 6 suspension, etc.
6. Harmonize a complete chorale melody in keyboard style. The melody will include at least one modulation away from the tonic key.
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The Musicianship exam is offered once each semester, usually on a Saturday.
If you have questions about the exam, or about how you might prepare for it, please contact Prof. William Rothstein.