The nature of the Second Examination differs from concentration to concentration; there are five different exams in all: (1) musicology ; (2) theory/analysis, (3) composition (Ph.D. and DMA) (4) ethnomusicology; and (5) DMA-Performance. Students may consult past exams in the music office.
Students in all areas except DMA-Performance are eligible to take the Second Examination at any point after completion of 45 credits (students can, though--and most do--wait until they finish all course work), all required parts of the First Examination, and all language examinations. Students must complete their language requirement before taking the Second Examination. DMA-Performance students take the Second Examination only upon completion of all course work, the language exam, and two recitals. To maintain Satisfactory Progress, students must take the Second Examination by the second time it is given after they complete course work.
The written portion of the Second Examination for all students--except DMA-Performance and Ethnomusicology--is usually given the week before the semester starts; the oral portion of the exam usually follows about ten days later (generally on a Saturday). The written portion of the Ethnomusicology exam is generally given in the second week of November and April with the oral portion about two weeks later. The dates are announced early in the semester, and students must sign up six weeks prior to the exam.
For students in D.M.A.-Performance, the written portion of the Second Examination is usually given on the Friday after the Thanksgiving break (in the Fall semester) and the last Friday in April (in the Spring semester). The oral portion of the exam generally follows two weeks later.
A student who fails the Second Examination will be permitted another opportunity within one year to take and pass the examination. A student who fails any part of the Second Examination a second time may appeal to take the exam a third time; the appeal will be in writing to the Executive Officer, who in consultation with the Examining Committee for the most recent exam, will make a determination. A student who fails the exam a third time, or who is denied the privilege to take the exam a third time, will be dropped from the program. Students may appeal the decision to the Executive Committee.
What follows is a very brief description of each of the five different exams.
(a) Written examination--this consists of four parts over two days:
Day 1/Part 1 (3 hours): Assigned Pieces. Three pieces will be announced three weeks prior to the exam; the “provenance” of the pieces will be as follows: one each from (a) before 1600, (b) the period from 1600 to 1900, and (c) after 1900. There will be a question for each of the pieces, that question being historical, analytical, or critical in nature or any combination of such that seems appropriate. Students will be asked to deal with two of the three pieces.
Day 1/Part 2 (3 hours): Identifications. There will be a broad range of twenty terms—names, titles, concepts, etc.—from which students will choose fifteen and write a brief but “substantial” paragraph that emphasizes their significance. Students will be invited to display their knowledge of the literature about the items.
Day 2/Part 1 (3 hours): Essays. There will be four essay questions, from which students will choose and write about two. The nature of the essay questions will be such that they tend to deal with broad topics, avoiding questions that test for knowledge of minutiae.
Day 2/Part 2 (3 hours): Documents/Primary sources: We will offer reproductions of five documents/sources—for example, an autograph sketch, a folio or an opening from a Medieval or Renaissance manuscript (or print), a title page from a treatise, an “archival” document (a payroll notice or a composer-publisher contract), something drawn from the visual arts, a page of an opera libretto, etc.—and ask students to “wring” what they can out of four of them. (Note that the individual documents will not be accompanied by questions; rather, the students themselves can choose what they wish to address, thus giving them the chance to show that they know what may be significant about the documents. A “good answer” could even conceivably consist of asking questions.)
(b) Oral examination. Students are expected to prepare in two areas, one of which is more narrowly focused, ideally toward the preparation of a dissertation prospectus. The two areas should not overlap in chronology or in topic. Both areas might be defined by genre or topic (the polyphonic Mass, 1300 - 1500; Italian opera of the nineteenth century; instrumental chamber music, 1620 - 1740; vernacular musics of the Americas). The narrower area might take sharper focus (the operas of Verdi; the motet in the 13th century; serial music after Webern; Musical Theater in the United States, 1910-1960). Students are expected to know something of the cultural context in which these repertories reside, and to have a command of recent scholarly writing about them.
In preparation for the Orals students should establish contact with one or two members of the faculty, with whom a bibliography will be drawn up for each of the two areas. These should be understood as fairly flexible lists that will include both foundational and current readings and a repertory of music that will serve as the basis of the examination. This process should ideally begin a year before the student plans to take the exam, and the lists must be conveyed to the Chair of the Music History Examinations Committee by no later than 1 September, for a January/February examination, and 1 April, for an August/September examination
(a) Written examination--this consists of four parts over two days:
Part I (six hours): Analysis. Students are given two short, unfamiliar
pieces from different periods and asked to analyze one of them.
Part II (two hours): Repertoire. Students write an essay on some aspect of
repertoire in their chosen periods.
Part III (two hours): History of Theory. Students write an essay on some
aspect of the history of music theory.
Part IV (two hours): Current Trends. Students write an essay on current or
recent developments in the field of music theory.
(b) Oral examination–upon signing up for the examination, students choose two historical "periods" and are held responsible for in-depth knowledge of them. Students who choose Music of the United States in place of one of the periods will be responsible for the entire span of its development. In addition, students may be questioned about aspects of their written examinations.
Note that, on the oral examination in particular, students are expected to demonstrate impressive bibliographical control of the secondary literature, including that in foreign languages.
(a) Written Examination–this consists of three parts.
Day 1: At-sight analysis of a piece from the common-practice era or later. (6 hours)
Question 1: Repertoire.
For this question students will be asked to trace the history of a genre or address other kinds of questions that demonstrate knowledge of the common-practice and 20th/21st-century repertoire. Students will be given two questions to choose from. (2 hours)
Question 2: Post-1900 compositional technique:
Students will be asked to discuss the evolution of an idea or practice of post-1900 music. Where appropriate students would be expected to provide short composed examples illustrating their discussion. Students will be given two questions to choose from. (3 hours)
(b) Oral examination–students choose a "major composer" for whose life and works they are responsible in the broadest terms. In addition, students may be questioned about aspects of their written examinations.
(a) Written examination--this consists of three parts:
PART I: upon signing up for the exam, the student selects either two regions or one region and one topic; in this part of the exam, which lasts three hours, students write two essays;
PART II: the format is like that of the examination for musicology and theory/analysis students;
PART III: students listen to a cassette and write essays about the music examples heard;
(b) Oral examination--like that for musicology and theory/analysis students; the exam is based on the region(s)/topic that the student has chosen.
(a) Written examination--this consists of two parts:
PART I is a three-hour exam in which students choose two of three score excerpts and place them in their proper historical context, analyze the excerpt, and discuss appropriate matters of performance practice;
PART II is a three-hour exam in which students choose four out of six essay questions (two long/two short) that deal specifically with their own instrument, its repertory, its history, its construction, and its pedagogy;
(b) Oral examination--students should come prepared to discuss in detail one major composition by one major composer that they performed on their second-year recital; the discussion will be wide-ranging, covering historical, analytical, and performance-practice issues; in addition, students will discuss their written exam.