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Second Examination

Second Examination


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.

Musicology


Second Examination Musicology: The written examination in the Fall will be on Thursday and FridayAugust 15 and 16, 2019. The orals will be scheduled later. Students must sign up for the exam by May 22, 2019 by e-mailing Tonisha Alexander with a copy to Professor Stone. The Spring written examination will be on Thursday and Friday, January 16 and 172020. The orals will be scheduled later. Students must sign up for the exam by November 30, 2019 by e-mailing Tonisha Alexander with a copy to Professor Stone. See Music Program Student Handbook for guidelines. Students should confer with their area adviser before specifying their special areas.‚Äč

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.) 

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.

Theory/Analysis


Second Examination Theory: The written examination in the Fall will be on Tuesday and Wednesday, August 13 and 14, 2019. The orals will be scheduled later. Students must sign up for the exam before May 22, 2019 by e-mailing Tonisha Alexander with a copy to Professor Straus. The written examination in the Spring will be on Tuesday and WednesdayJanuary 14 and 15, 2020. The orals will be scheduled later. Students must sign up for the exam November 30, 2019 by e-mailing Tonisha Alexander with a copy to Professor Straus. For the orals, students must indicate their two areas at the time they sign up. See Music Program Student Handbook for guidelines. Students should confer with their area adviser before specifying their special areas.

For students in the music theory program, the Second Examination is a comprehensive examination of your knowledge of music theory and repertoire. It tests not only what you’ve learned in courses at the Graduate Center but the entirety of your knowledge as a musician and music theorist.
 
The written portion of the Second Examination is usually given the week before the semester starts; the oral portion of the exam usually follows about ten days later. The dates are announced early in the semester, and students must sign up six weeks prior to the exam by informing the music office. Six weeks prior to the exam at the latest, and preferably several months before the exam, students must choose two repertoire areas (details below).  This choice is made with the advice and consent of the DEO for music theory.

Written examination—this consists of four parts over two days:

Part I (two hours): Repertoire. Students write an essay on some aspect of repertoire in their chosen areas.

  • Goal: To demonstrate broad and comprehensive knowledge of musical repertoire and associated secondary literature within chosen areas.
  • Your answer should be in the form of a coherent, unified, well-organized essay, making reference to specific composers and works as appropriate. Your answer should be directly responsive to the question asked, following its guidelines as to chronology, geography, number of subtopics, etc. Your essay may be illustrated with handwritten musical examples.  You may write annotations directly on the provided score—indicate within your essay if these are to be understood as part of your answer.
  • Prior to the written exam (preferably several months before), you will choose two repertoire areas, which will form the basis both of this essay question and a portion of the oral exam. Make your choice in consultation with the DEO for music theory, whose approval is required. Usually, one of the areas will be a chronological period and geographical area and the other will be a genre, but individual circumstances may lead to a different allocation. At least one of the two areas should be related to the likely dissertation topic. Here are ten recent pairs of repertoire areas:
    • 19th-century orchestral music (Germany, Austria-Hungary, France, Russia) + Instrumental music 1700-1900
    • Solo keyboard music 1770-1970 + Music in Western Europe 1775-1875
    • The symphony from 1770-1970 + Music in the classical tradition in North and South America in the 20th century
    • Chamber music with piano from Haydn to Shostakovich + Music in the 19th century
    • Music in Germany and France 1830-1945 (includes all genres) + Solo piano music in the 20th century (includes the US and Europe)
    • Lieder from Schubert to Webern + 19th-century music in continental Europe
    • Anglophone pop music from 1965 to the present + 20th-century music in the classical tradition in Europe and North America
    • 20th-century music + the symphony from Haydn to Shostakovich
    • Music from 1850 to 1950 + French music from the late 17th century to Messiaen.
    • Pop/rock music since 1950 + 20th-century music in the classical tradition 1910–1980
  • You are expected to demonstrate knowledge of repertoire at the level of standard historical textbooks like Grout/Palisca/Burkholder or Taruskin. You should know the historical and stylistic trends and should be prepared to refer to specific composers and works. 
  • You are expected to demonstrate knowledge of the professional secondary literature on the periods, genres, composers, and works you discuss, including scholarly monographs and articles in professional journals (both in musicology and music theory) and including major non-English-language sources.
  • How to study:
    • Read standard textbook accounts and listen to a lot of music (with score, if appropriate)
    • Read the principal musicological literature
    • Read the principal theoretical and analytical literature
    • Study previous exam questions
    • Study previous exam answers
    • Using previous exam questions, do one or two trial runs under timed conditions
 
Part II (two hours): History of Theory. Students write an essay on some
aspect of the history of music theory.
  • Goal: To demonstrate broad and comprehensive knowledge of the history of music theory (from Aristoxenus to Babbitt) and associated secondary literature.
  • Your answer should be in the form of a coherent, unified, well-organized essay, making reference to specific theorists and treatises as appropriate. Your answer should be directly responsive to the question asked, following its guidelines as to chronology, geography, number of subtopics, etc.
  • You are expected to demonstrate knowledge of the theoretical problems and issues that have historically been of interest to music theorists as well as the principal trends and developments in the field.
  • You are expected to have close, detailed knowledge of significant theorists and theoretical treatises.
  • How to study:
    • Use your class notes from the History of Theory classes, the extensive written materials that circulate among students in the department, and published sources in the history of music theory including (but not limited to) The Cambridge History of Western Music Theory.  In short, read the treatises and read the secondary literature.
    • Study previous exam questions.
    • Study previous exam answers.
    • Using previous exam questions, do one or two trial runs under timed conditions.
 
Part III (two hours): Current Trends. Students write an essay on current or recent developments in the field of music theory.
  • Goal: To demonstrate broad and comprehensive knowledge of current and recent work in music theory.
  • Your answer should be in the form of a coherent, unified, well-organized essay, making reference to specific theorists and articles/books as appropriate. Your answer should be directly responsive to the question asked, following its guidelines as to chronology, geography, number of subtopics, etc.
  • You are expected to demonstrate knowledge of the theoretical problems and issues that are currently of interest to music theorists as well as the principal trends and developments in the field.
  • You are expected to have close, detailed knowledge of significant theorists and professional articles/books in music theory.
  • How to study:
    • Read the full runs of the principal music theory journals from the past fifteen years.
    • Read the principal books/treatises in music theory from the past fifteen years.
    • Study previous exam questions.
    • Study previous exam answers.
    • Using previous exam questions, do one or two trial runs under timed conditions.
 
Part IV (six hours): Analysis. Students are given two short, unfamiliar pieces from different periods and asked to analyze one of them. Usually, one of the pieces is tonal and one is post-tonal.
  • Goal: to demonstrate the ability to analyze a previously unfamiliar piece, using pertinent analytical methodologies
  • Your answer should be in the form of a coherent, unified, well-organized essay, illustrated with musical examples, as appropriate. If you choose the tonal composition, you are not expected to produce a complete Schenkerian sketch. Analyze the music from what ever point(s) of view and using any analytical methodologies you consider appropriate.
  • How to study:
    • Review principal analytical methodologies for the analysis of tonal and post-tonal music.
    • Study previous exam questions to see what sorts of pieces are typically assigned.
    • Study previous exam answers as models.
    • Using previously assigned pieces, do one or two trial runs under timed conditions.
 

Oral examination—this consists of a one-hour session with two or more members of the music theory faculty (to be scheduled for mutual convenience, typically ten or so days after the written exam).
  • Goal: to review the written exam and to use the written exam as a springboard for discussion of topics in music theory. These may be related to your two areas and to your dissertation, but need not be. This will be a wide-ranging conversation to assess the general state of your knowledge of musical and music-theoretical literature.
  • Typically, you will have a short period (no more than 10 minutes) to offer any corrections to the written exam (which you should bring with you).
  • There will be questions about repertoire and secondary literature in your two areas (not necessarily confined to the questions you were asked on the written exam).
  • There will be questions that follow up on the History of Theory and Current Trends essays, but are not necessarily restricted to the specific questions posed on the written exam.
  • There will be questions about repertoire and secondary literature in the area of your prospective dissertation.
  • There will be questions of a broader nature about musical literature and music-theoretical literature, both past and present.
  • How to prepare: Study your own written exam. Make a note of any corrections you would like to make or gaps you would like to fill. You may bring your annotated copy of your written exam to the oral exam (no other written materials are permitted).

Composition


Second Examination Composition: The written examination in the Fall will be on Tuesday and Wednesday, August 13 and 14, 2019. The orals will be scheduled later. Students must sign up for the exam by May 22, 2019 by e-mailing Tonisha Alexander with a copy to Professor Nichols. The written examination in the Spring will be on Tuesday and Wednesday, January 14 and 15, 2020. The orals will be scheduled later. Students must sign up for the exam by November 30, 2019 by e-mailing Tonisha Alexander with a copy to Professor Nichols. See Music Program Student Handbook for guidelines.

Written Examination–this consists of three parts. 

Day 1: At-sight analysis of a piece from the common-practice era or later. (6 hours)

Day 2:
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) 

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.

Ethnomusicology


Second Examination Ethnomusicology
The written examination in the Fall will be on Thursday and FridayAugust 15 and 16, 2019. The orals will be scheduled later. Students must sign up for the exam by May 22, 2019 by e-mailing Tonisha Alexander with a copy to Professor Sugarman. The Spring written examination will be on Thursday and Friday, January 16 and 172020. The orals will be scheduled later. Students must sign up for the exam by November 30, 2019 by e-mailing Tonisha Alexander with a copy to Professor Sugarman. See Music Program Student Handbook for guidelines. Students should confer with their area adviser before specifying their special areas.


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;

Oral examination--like that for musicology and theory/analysis students; the exam is based on the region(s)/topic that the student has chosen.

DMA Performance


Second Examination – DMA Performance: The Fall written examination will be on Friday, November 22, 2019; the orals will be Friday, December 6, 2019. Students must sign up for the exam by November 1, 2019 by emailing Jacqueline Martelle with a copy to Professor CareyThe Spring written examination will be on Friday, April 3, 2020; the orals will be Friday, April 17, 2020. Students must sign up for the exam by March 13, 2020 by emailing Jacqueline Martelle with a copy to Professor Carey
 
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;

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.