Student Handbook

Degree Requirements

Composition (Ph.D./D.M.A.)
Ethnomusicology (Ph.D.)
Musicology (Ph.D.)
Performance (D.M.A.)
Theory and Analysis (Ph.D.)

All students must satisfactorily complete the following requirements before applying for the en-route M.A. degree in Music:

  • 45 course credits, all with a grade of B or better, including the required courses listed below in sub-areas of the program. Courses taken for a P grade cannot count toward this degree, and no more than 12 credits of transfer credits may be applied toward it.
  • Successful passing of the first doctoral examination.
  • Passing one language examination. Two in Ethnomusicology.

In addition, there are specific requirements by area:

Musicology
Introduction to Musicology (Music 70000); a 70000-level proseminar in theory/analysis; a 70000-level proseminar in music history in either Medieval or Renaissance music, together with its corequisite “Performance Workshop; four 80000-level seminars in music history; a course in ethnomusicology.

Ethnomusicology
Eight courses (or their equivalent) including Research Techniques in Ethnomusicology (MUS 71200); five seminars in ethnomusicology; one seminar in Western music; one course in anthropology.

Music Theory
Introduction to Musicology (Music 70000); proseminars in Schenkerian analysis and post-tonal analysis; two seminars in Schenkerian analysis, one seminar in post-tonal analysis, and two seminars in the History of Music Theory.

Composition
Introduction to Musicology (Music 70000); one proseminar in theory/analysis; one seminar or proseminar in music history prior to 1900; two tutorials in

Learning Goals

General Program Learning Goals

Learning Goals by Concentration:

Examinations Schedule

2022-2023

*Please note that most exams have sign-up deadlines, which must be observed so that exams can be prepared in advance. Review exam details for required deadlines.

Date Exam
August 15, 2022 First Exam: Ethnomusicology
August 16 and 17, 2022 Second Exam: Theory
Second Exam: Composition
August 18 and 19, 2022 Second Exam: Ethnomusicology
Second Exam: Musicology
September 10, 2022 Musicianship Exam
September 20, 2022 Language Exams
November 18, 2022 (written)
December 2, 2022 (orals)
Second Exam: DMA
December 5, 2022 Language Exams
January 9, 2023 First Exam: Ethnomusicology
January 10 and 11, 2023 Second Exam: Composition
Second Exam: Theory
January 12 and 13, 2023 Second Exam: Ethnomusicology
Second Exam: Musicology
February 11, 2023 Musicianship Exam
February 17, 2023 Language Exams
March 10, 2023 First Exam: DMA
April 14, 2023 (written)
April 28, 2023 (orals)
Second Exam: DMA
May 1, 2023 Language Exams

Language Requirements and Examinations

Language examinations are given twice each semester, usually at the end of the fourth week, and then about a week or two before the end of the semester. Students are expected to take the language exams each semester until they complete the language requirement(s) for their degree.

Fall 2022 Exam Dates:

  • Thursday, September 20, 2022
  • Thursday, December 5, 2022

Spring 2023 Exam Dates:

  • Friday, February 17, 2023
  • Monday, May 12, 2023

All exams begin at 10:00 a.m. and will be administered by Professors Henson and Nichols.

Sign-up Deadlines

  • Ethnomusicology students and any student taking the examination in a language other than French or German must sign up at least a month in advance.
  • All other students must sign up at least two weeks in advance. 
  • Sign up instructions TBD

Ph.D. Requirements

Ph.D. students must demonstrate a reading and pronunciation knowledge of two languages other than English. Students are encouraged to take one language exam before the end of their first semester in the program, and the second language before the end of their third semester in the program. Students must pass at least one language examination in order to take the First Examination.  They must complete all language requirements in order to take the Second Exam.

D.M.A. Requirements

Students pursuing a D.M.A. (whether in composition or performance) musst demonstrate reading and pronunciation knowledge of one language other than English and must pass one language exam.

Additional Requirements and Guidelines

Students are advised to consult with the Deputy Executive Officer of their area early in the first semester of study to select appropriate languages. Additions appropriate to the student’s area of interest may be required by the Executive Officer or the Deputy Executive Officer.

Students who choose to do a dissertation in an area where knowledge of a particular language other than the "customary" ones is necessary—for example, Latin for any number of topics in the Middle Ages/Renaissance, or Provençal for a study of the troubadours, or whatever language is necessary for an ethnomusicological study of a specific area of the world—will be asked to demonstrate competence (even if informally) in that language, over and above the regular language examinations.

Download a sample exam

The language examination lasts two hours. Students are asked to translate - a dictionary may be used - a passage concerning some aspect of music into good, idiomatic English. In addition, there is a brief pronunciation test in which students are asked to read aloud a few sentences from the passage being translated. The criterion here is not the ability to pass oneself off as a native speaker of the language; rather it is to be able to get out a sentence or two in a manner that is comprehensible and would not draw snickers were you to include the passage in a paper delivered at a scholarly conference.

Grading on the language exam is PASS/FAIL. The criterion for passing can best be stated as follows: the student must demonstrate that he/she can function in the scholarly literature of the language, and do so with some facility. Note that "function" implies the ability to do more than simply "understand" the passage; it implies the ability to produce a translation that is faithful to the original and, at the same time, makes good sense in English.

First Examination

The First Examination is given in two parts - Part A is a written examination; Part B is a two-week paper written on a given topic - at roughly the 30-credit mark. Requirements for the exam vary based on the student's anticipated degree, area of concentration, and matriculation status.

Ethnomusicology (Part A)

Fall 2022 Exam Date: Monday, August 15, 2022

Spring 2023 Exam Date: Monday, January 9, 2023

Exam times TBD

Sign-up Deadline: Students must sign up for the exam by May 22, 2022 by emailing Tonisha Alexander (talexander@gc.cuny.edu), cc Jane Sugarman (jsugarman@gc.cuny.edu)

Performance

The exam date for all 2022-2023 first year students is Friday, March 10, 2023.

Sign-up Deadline: Student must sign up by March 1, 2023 by emailing Jacquelline Martelle (amartelle@gc.cuny.edu), cc John Musto (jmusto@gc.cuny.edu)

Theory and Analysis (Part B/Musicianship Exam)

Fall 2022 Exam Date: Saturday, September 10, 2022

Spring 2023 Exam Date: Saturday, February 11, 2023

All exams begin at 10:00 .a.m and will be administered by Professors Rothstein and Burstein.

Sign-up Deadline: TBD. Please contact Professor Rothstein (wrothstein@gc.cuny.edu) and/or Professor Burstein (pburstei@hunter.cuny.edu) for more information.

Composition (Ph.D./D.M.A.)

  • Ph.D: Students entering the program with a bachelor's degree are required to take both parts of the exam; students entering with a master's degree will take only part B.

  • D.M.A.: Students entering the program with a bachelor's degree are required to take only part A; students entering with a master's degree are not required to take the First Exam.

Ethnomusicology (Ph.D.)

  • Students entering the program with a bachelor's degree are required to take both parts of the exam; students entering with a master's degree will take only part B.

Musicology (Ph.D.)

  • Students entering the program with a bachelor's degree are required to take both parts of the exam; students entering with a master's degree will take only part B.

Performance (D.M.A.)

  • Students who successfully complete the final exam of the fall D.M.A. topics course are not required to take the First Exam. All other students take part A only.

Theory and Analysis

For Theory and Analysis students, part B of the First Exam is a Musicianship Examination in score reading, transposition, figured bass realization, and pop lead-sheet realization at the keyboard. See below for more details.

  • Ph.D. students entering the program with a bachelor's degree are required to take both parts of the exam; students entering with a master's degree will take only the Musicianship Examination (part B).

Part A of the examination is meant to demonstrate facility in writing a coherent essay, and to demonstrate competence in basic knowledge of foundational concepts and terminology. We want to ensure that new students in each of our areas are operating at the level expected of entering doctoral students.

The two-week paper (Part B) gives us a sense whether students can undertake sophisticated research in a strange new area, formulate a research agenda, and present findings in literate prose and in a well-argued exposition.

Preparation for these exams is mainly in the 70000-level introductory proseminars in musicology, analysis and research methods in ethnomusicology as well as initial doctoral-level seminars.

The results of the First Exam are useful in alerting students where they are currently deficient in one or more of the skills necessary for advanced doctoral study, and in alerting faculty to areas that need to be strengthened in the student’s broad preparations. In a more general sense, performance on the First Exam provides useful signals to the faculty in its adjustments to the curriculum to ensure that first-year students are being prepared to enter into the more advanced stations in the program.

Composition

The First Examination consists of a portfolio review of papers and compositions completed since entering the program and a general oral examination. The oral exam includes an evaluation of the portfolio, a discussion of general topics such as analysis, repertoire and compositional techniques, consideration of future research topics, and professional development guidance.

Students who enter with a master’s take the examination after two semesters in the program. Students entering without a master’s take the examination after three semesters in the program. If the student is deemed not to be making satisfactory progress, a written assignment will be made and satisfactory completion of that assignment will be a condition for continuation in the program. (In effect, the written assignment is a retaking of the exam.)

Ethnomusicology

Part A of the First Examination is a written exam in which a student must demonstrate competence in writing a focused essay and basic knowledge of foundational concepts, terminology, and music analysis. Part A is not required for students entering with a master’s degree in Ethnomusicology; for those with a master's degree in another field, it should be taken in the summer following the first year of coursework. For those without a master's degree, it should be taken at the time the student reaches 30 credits

Part B is a critical essay reviewing literature on a designated topic that must be completed with a two-week period, and is required of all students in the program. Those who enter with a Master’s degree should take it during the summer following their first year of coursework. Students who enter the program without a master’s degree should take the examination at or before reaching 30 credits.

Musicology

The First Examination is an assignment on a designated subject that must be completed with a two-week period. Students who enter the program with a Master’s degree take the examination in the summer following their first year of coursework. Students who enter the program without a master’s degree take the examination in the summer following their second year of coursework. The paper will be read by an examination committee comprising the Deputy Executive Officer and three other faculty members. In the beginning of the semester following the exam, the student will meet with the examination committee to discuss the paper. The paper might be passed with no revisions, or the committee might ask the student to revise and resubmit it. At that meeting the committee will also conduct a more comprehensive review of the student’s performance in the program to date, to make sure there are no areas of weakness the student needs to address.

Performance

The First Examination in a written examination in music analysis. Students take the examination at the end of their first year in the program.

Theory

Part A of the First Examination consists of a portfolio review of papers completed since entering the program and a general oral examination. The oral exam will include an evaluation of the portfolio, a discussion of general topics in the field (e.g. theoretical/analytical methodologies, current secondary literature, and repertoire), consideration of future research topics, and professional development guidance.

Students who entered with a master’s take the examination after two semesters in the program. Students entering without a master’s take the examination after three semesters in the program.

In place of the standard Part B of the First Examination, students pursuing a concentration in Theory must complete a Musicianship Examination (see below for details).

All doctoral candidates pursuing the Theory and Analysis concentration are required to pass a Musicianship Exam in score reading, transposition, figured bass realization, and pop lead-sheet realization at the keyboard. The exam requires students to:

  1. Realize a lead sheet in a jazz, pop, or other vernacular style at the keyboard, playing both the melody and chords.
  2. Realize a figured bass in “keyboard style” (3 voices in the R.H., bass only in the L.H.).
  3. Play at the keyboard an orchestral passage, reading from a full score. 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. Play at pitch a single line (or pair of lines) from a complicated late 19th- or early 20th-century score that requires transposition.
  5. Be able to play illustrations in any key, major or minor, of any chord progressions or usage commonly taught in undergraduate courses in tonal theory. 
  6. Harmonize a complete chorale melody in keyboard style. The melody will include at least one modulation away from the tonic key.

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.

Second Examination

The Second Examination is required of all students in the Ph.D. and D.M.A. degree programs in Music, and generally consists of both a written and oral examination.

Composition

Fall 2022 Exam Dates

  • Written Exam: Tuesday and Wednesday, August 16 and 17, 2022
  • Oral Exam: TBD

Sign-up Deadline: May 22, 2022 via email to Tonisha Alexander (talexander@gc.cuny.edu), cc Jeff Nichols (jnichols@gc.cuny.edu)

Spring 2022 Written Exam Dates

  • Written Exam: Tuesday and Wednesday, January 10 and 11, 2023
  • Oral Exam: TBD

Sign-up Deadline: November 30, 2022 via email to Tonisha Alexander (talexander@gc.cuny.edu), cc Jeff Nichols (jnichols@gc.cuny.edu)

Ethnomusicology

Fall 2022 Exam Dates

  • Written Exam: Thursday and Friday, August 18 and 19, 2021
  • Oral Exam: TBD

Sign-up Deadline: May 22, 2022 via email to Tonisha Alexander (talexander@gc.cuny.edu), cc Jane Sugarman (jsugarman@gc.cuny.edu)

Spring 2023 Written Exam Dates

  • Written Exam: Thursday and Friday, January 12 and 13, 2023
  • Oral Exam: TBD

Sign-up Deadline: November 30, 2022 via email to Tonisha Alexander (talexander@gc.cuny.edu), cc Jane Sugarman (jsugarman@gc.cuny.edu)

musicology

Fall 2021 Exam Dates

  • Written Exam: Thursday and Friday, August 18 and 19, 2022
  • Oral Exam: TBD

Sign-up Deadline: May 22, 2022 via email to Tonisha Alexander (talexander@gc.cuny.edu), cc Anne Stone (astone@gc.cuny.edu)

Spring 2022 Written Exam Dates

  • Written Exam: Thursday and Friday, January 12 and 13, 2023
  • Oral Exam: TBD

Sign-up Deadline: November 30, 2022 via email to Tonisha Alexander (talexander@gc.cuny.edu), cc Anne Stone (astone@gc.cuny.edu)

Performance

Fall 2022 Exam Dates

  • Written Exam: Friday, November 18, 2022
  • Oral Exam: Friday, December 2, 2022

Sign-up Deadline: November 1, 2022 via email to Jacqueline Martelle (amartelle@gc.cuny.edu), cc Norman Carey (ncarey@gc.cuny.edu)

Spring 2023 Written Exam Dates

  • Written Exam: Friday, April 14, 2023
  • Oral Exam: Friday, May 5, 2023

Sign-up Deadline: April 28, 2023 via email to Jacqueline Martelle (amartelle@gc.cuny.edu), cc Norman Carey (ncarey@gc.cuny.edu)

THeory and Analysis

Fall 2022 Exam Dates

  • Written Exam: Tuesday and Wednesday, August 16 and 17, 2022
  • Oral Exam: TBD

Sign-up Deadline: May 22, 2022 via email to Tonisha Alexander (talexander@gc.cuny.edu), cc Joseph Strauss (jstraus@gc.cuny.edu)

Spring 2023 Written Exam Dates

  • Written Exam: Tuesday and Wednesday, January 10 and 11, 2023
  • Oral Exam: TBD

Sign-up Deadline: November 30, 2022 via email to Tonisha Alexander (talexander@gc.cuny.edu), cc Joseph Strauss (jstraus@gc.cuny.edu)

Students are eligible to take the Second Examination when they have:

  • earned at least 45 credits (Note: most students take the exam after completing 60 credits.)
  • successfully completed the language requirement for their program
  • successfully completed the First Examination (including the Musicianship Examination for students in the theory concentration for the Ph.D.)

Students in the D.M.A. in Performance must also have presented their first and second degree recitals.

Learning Goals

The goal of the Second Examination is to determine if students are prepared to teach composition and modern and contemporary music as well as basic courses in music theory and literature. They must be able to analyze works of music, demonstrate a familiarity with the literature and techniques of modern and contemporary music and demonstrate a broad familiarity with music literature since 1600. The learning goals for the exam are:

  1. That the student be able to produce an independent analysis of a work of music
  2. That the student have a command of the innovative compositional techniques of the previous and current century
  3. That the student demonstrate a command of the tonal and post- tonal repertoires by being able to provide specific commentary on a number of individual pieces and genres and be able to contextualize the development of those genres and synthesize their understanding of individual works into a larger framework.

Structure

The Second Examination consists of a written examination in three parts (taken over 2 days) and an oral examination.

The written exam consists of the following segments:

  1. Day 1 - At-sight analysis of a piece from the common-practice era or later. (6 hours)
  2. Day 2/Part 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)
  3. Day 2/Part 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) 

For the 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.

Preparation

Students in composition take a variety of seminars in theory, musicology that familiarize them with repertoire and issues in the study of various repertories. They also take two Composers Seminars that specifically address contemporary composition techniques.

Learning Goals

The second exam in ethnomusicology is designed to prepare students in two specialized teaching areas, including at least one that relates directly to their dissertation research. It does this by assessing the student's familiarity with the scholarly literature in two subjects: either music of two major world areas (e.g. South Asia, Latin America) or major repertoires (Black Music of the Americas); or the music of one major world area or repertoire and a cross-cultural topic (e.g., "music and nationalism," "music and gender").

Structure

The Second Examination consists of a written examination in three parts (taken over 2 days) and an oral examination.

For each subject, and in consultation with faculty, students prepare a list of relevant books and articles on which they will be examined. They are expected to include scholarly work in one or more languages other than English. The written portion of the exam requires two days. On the first day students are asked to write one well-organized essay on each subject, chosen from three or four that are posed; and to identify 15 terms selected from a list of thirty. On the second day they must describe and identify five or six recorded examples provided on a CD. During the oral exam (given approximately ten days later), students may be asked to elaborate on some of their answers. All questions posed in the written and oral portions of the exam relate to the two subjects chosen by the student and to their specific reading lists.

Preparation

Students in ethnomusicology prepare for the exam by taking Music 71200 (Research Techniques in Ethnomusicology); a variety of seminars in Ethnomusicology in theory, general topics, and geographic areas; as well as possibly independent study with a faculty member.

Learning Goals

The Second Examination aims to assess whether or not the student commands mastery over material both general and specialized sufficient enough that the faculty believes that the student is competent to move on to the dissertation and eventually take his or her place as a colleague in the discipline.

Structure

The Second Examination consists of a written examination in four parts (taken over 2 days) and an oral examination.

The written examination is extremely comprehensive in nature and consists of the following three-hour segments:

  1. Day 1/Part 1 - 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.
  2. Day 1/Part 2 - 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. 
  3. Day 2/Part 1 - 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. 
  4. Day 2/Part 2Documents/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.)

For the one-hour 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.

Students must submit an annotated core bibliography and, where relevant, a list of works for each area, developed in consultation with program faculty. 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.

Preparation

Although there is no one-to-one correlation between any portion of the exam and any particular course that students might have taken, many courses in the curriculum for this concentration will prepare student to think analytically, synthesize materials, “store” data in the back of their minds, learn repertory, assess methodologies, and write clearly, all of which are required for successful performance on the exam.

Specifically in preparation for the oral exam, students should ieally contact program faculty to begin the process of developing the bibliography about a year before the student plans to take the exam. 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.

Learning Goals

The Second Examination aims to determine that the student has the requisite knowledge to be an effective studio teacher at the college level. Students are expected to:

  1. Demonstrate a thorough knowledge of the history of their instrument, its repertoire, historical development, and pedagogy.
  2. Analyze representative works of Western art music composed between 1600 and the present. One of the works will be a post-tonal work composed in the 20th or 21st Century.

Structure

The Second Examination consists of a written examination in two parts and an oral examination.

The written examination consists of the following segments:

  1. Part 1 - 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
  2. Part 2 - 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

For the oral examination, students should come prepared to discuss in detail one major composition by one major composer that they performed in their second year recital. The discussion will be wide-ranging, covering historical, analytical, and performance-practice issues.

Preparation

Coursework in the D.M.A. program provides a good deal of the background needed to pass the exam, including private lessons, courses in analysis, and performance practice, and seminars in musicology. Other preparation is provided by previous musical and academic training and professional experience.

Learning Goals

The Second Examination the student to demonstrate the following critical skills and areas of expertise, in preparation for the dissertation:

  1. a thorough knowledge of repertoire (particularly in their chosen periods)
  2. the ability to analyze music
  3. familiarity with historical theoretical systems
  4. familiarity with current trends in the field, including recent theoretical systems.

Structure

The Second Examination consists of a written examination in four parts (taken over 2 days) and an oral examination.

Written Examination, Part 1: Repertoire (2 hours)

Goal

To demonstrate broad and comprehensive knowledge of musical repertoire and associated secondary literature within chosen areas.

Expectations

Students are expected to write a coherent, unified, well-organized essay on some aspect of repertoire in their chosen areas, making reference to specific composers and works as appropriate. Essays should be directly responsive to the question asked, following its guidelines as to chronology, geography, number of subtopics, etc. Essays may be illustrated with handwritten musical examples, and may make reference to annotations made directly on the provided score.

Students are expected to:

  • demonstrate knowledge of repertoire at the level of standard historical textbooks like Grout/Palisca/Burkholder or Taruskin.
  • know the historical and stylistic trends and should be prepared to refer to specific composers and works. 
  • 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.
Preparation

Prior to the written exam (preferably several months before), students choose two repertoire areas in consultation with the DEO for music theory, which will form the basis both of this essay question and a portion of the oral exam. 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

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

Written Examination, Part 2: History of Theory (2 hours)

Goal

To demonstrate broad and comprehensive knowledge of the history of music theory (from Aristoxenus to Babbitt) and associated secondary literature.

Expectations

Students are expected to write a coherent, unified, well-organized essay on some aspect f the history of music theory, making reference to specific  to specific theorists and treatises as appropriate. Essays should be directly responsive to the question asked, following its guidelines as to chronology, geography, number of subtopics, etc.

Students 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.
  • have close, detailed knowledge of significant theorists and theoretical treatises.
Preparation

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.

Written Examination, Part 3: Current Trends (2 hours)

Goal

To demonstrate broad and comprehensive knowledge of current and recent work in music theory.

Expectations

Students are expected to write a coherent, unified, well-organized essay on current or recent developments in the field of music theory, making reference to specific theorists and articles/books as appropriate. Essays should be directly responsive to the question asked, following its guidelines as to chronology, geography, number of subtopics, etc.

Students 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.
  • have close, detailed knowledge of significant theorists and professional articles/books in music theory.
Preparation

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.

Written Examination, Part 4: Analysis (6 hours)

Goal

To demonstrate the ability to analyze a previously unfamiliar piece, using pertinent analytical methodologies.

Structure

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. Students are expected to write a coherent, unified, well-organized essay, illustrated with musical examples as appropriate.

If the tonal composition is selected for analysis, students are not expected to produce a complete Schenkerian sketch. Students should analyze the music from any point(s) of view and using any analytical methodologies they consider appropriate.

Preparation

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 (1 hour)

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 the student's two areas and to the dissertation, but need not be.

Expectations

This will be a wide-ranging conversation to assess the general state of the student's knowledge of musical and music-theoretical literature.

  • Typically, a short period (no more than 10 minutes) will be allowed to offer any corrections to the written exam (which the student should bring to the oral exam).
  • Discussion will include:
    • questions on repertoire and secondary literature in the two areas (not necessarily confined to the questions asked on the written exam)
    • questions follow ing up on the History of Theory and Current Trends essays 9not necessarily confined to the questions asked on the written exam)
    • questions on repertoire and secondary literature in the area of your prospective dissertation.
    • questions of a broader nature about musical literature and music-theoretical literature, both past and present.
Preparation

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).

Dissertation

All students pursuing doctoral degrees in music are required to complete a dissertation under the guidance of a member of the doctoral faculty and to defend it at an oral examination to the satisfaction of an examining committee.

Students pursuing a D.M.A. in Performance are also required to present a dissertation recital.

In the dissertation students should demonstrate:

  • Mastery of the scholarly literature relevant to their topic.
  • The ability to conduct original research incorporating where appropriate current theoretical approaches and research methodologies.
  • The ability to reason and write at a professional level.
  • The ability to conceive, execute, and complete a scholarly monograph of substantial length and significant content.

Students pursuing either the Ph.D. with a concentration in Composition or the D.M.A. in Composition will be required to prepare (1) a large-scale work, and (2) an extended paper dealing with a theoretical aspect of composition, under the guidance of a member of the doctoral faculty, and to defend both at an oral examination to the satisfaction of an examining committee.

In addition to the goals listed above for the written dissertation, the composition portion should demonstrate:

  • The ability to compose a extended work of music.
  • A command of the editorial or notational techniques necessary for effective presentation of the work.
  • Mastery of the medium (instrumental or electro-acoustic) in which the work is composed.

It is never too early in the program to begin to develop a topic for your dissertation. The first step is to have a discussion with the advisor of your area as soon as you have begun research on a topic. Your advisor will offer an assessment of the viability of the project and suggest possible dissertation advisors and readers. When you are advanced to candidacy (Level 3), you will register for dissertation supervision with the dissertation advisor who has agreed to take on your project. Your dissertation advisor is “compensated” for no more than six semesters. It is recommended that, after your proposal has been approved, you work out a timetable for completion. In most cases, a dissertation can be completed in five semesters, one semester to get the dissertation proposal written and approved the remaining for during which the dissertation is written, revised, defended and deposited.

The proposal should be written in consultation with a dissertation advisor. Dissertation proposals are normally around fifteen pages in length and should include the following:

  1. Title Page
    • Working title of the dissertation.
    • Student’s name and degree program, specifying the area of specialization.
    • Student’s email address and phone number.
    • Names of the advisor and first reader.
  2. General Statement
    • A concise description of the subject, including a brief explanation of its biographical and/or historical context.
    • An explanation of the purpose of the project and its value to scholarly research.
  3. State of research
    • An indication of the present state of research in the area of the subject.
    • A bibliography of relevant literature, including primary and secondary sources.
  4. Approach
    • An explanation of the research plan and methodology for the project.
    • A provisional table of contents, with a brief explanation of the substance and purpose of each chapter.
  5. Writing Sample
    • A brief sample (usually 2–5 pages) of the kind of work to be undertaken in the main body of the dissertation. Its exact contents will vary according to the chosen topic and methodology. Typical examples include (but are not limited to) musical analyses; examination of sketch materials; excerpts from a translation; and transcriptions from recordings, with interpretive commentary.

Composition students should include a description of their proposed composition, including instrumentation, duration, texts (if applicable) and other compositional features.

Students are advised to consult with the DEO of their area for specifics of the proposal defense procedures. For all students, dissertation proposals are submitted for approval to a committee made up of the advisor, the first reader, and one other person. The advisor and at least one other member of the committee must be members of the Graduate Center doctoral faculty and at least one of them must be on the music department's doctoral faculty. The third member will be chosen by the student and advisor in consultation, and may be the Deputy Executive Officer for the student’s area of concentration, the D.E.O for the academic area in which the dissertation is located, or someone approved by the D.E.O. for the student’s area of concentration. Normally, the third committee member will be a member of the Doctoral Faculty.

The proposal may be submitted before or after completion of coursework in line with the policy of the student’s area of concentration. The proposal should be prepared in consultation with either the advisor or with both the advisor and first reader, according to the policy of the student’s area of concentration. When the proposal has been approved by the advisor (or by the advisor and first reader), the Proposal Defense will be scheduled by mutual agreement (the precise timing will be controlled by the policy of the student’s area of concentration).

To schedule a defense, the student will notify the Assistant Program Officer of his/her area.

The Proposal Defense has three possible outcomes: Pass, Pass with revisions (without an additional Defense meeting), and Fail (requiring an additional Defense meeting). The advisor will be responsible for reporting the result to the Assistant Program Officer.

All students should register their topics with the AMS’s Doctoral Dissertations in Musicology.

Composition students should include a description of their proposed composition, including instrumentation, duration, texts (if applicable) and other compositional features.

The Dissertation Office in the Mina Rees Library at the Graduate Center provides comprehensive guidelines and resources for students preparing their dissertation.

View the Dissertation Office guidelines »

During the writing of the dissertation, the student should be in regular contact with his/her advisor. The advisor might wish to read each chapter as it is drafted, or read larger portions of the dissertation that are submitted together. Generally the advisor will make a number of suggestions for revision. Once the student has revised the text and the advisor has approved the revisions, that portion goes to the first reader, who may also suggest revisions. It is not uncommon for chapters to go through two or more rounds of revision. Only when the advisor and first reader have both approved a full draft of the dissertation may the defense be scheduled. Because of the need for both advisor and first reader to approve the full draft, and the possibility that revisions will be requested by one or both, students should allow for a period of 2-3 months between the time the final chapter is submitted to the advisor and the date of the defense.

The final two members of the dissertation committee may be chosen at this point, or they may already have been chosen. They will read only the "defense version" of the dissertation, and will make any suggestions for revision at the defense. The defense version must be complete and final in all respects, including all appropriate front and back matter such as abstract, table of contents, footnotes, list of figures, bibliography, and appendices, and be in full compliance with Graduate Center guidelines for format and content of dissertations.

The final examining committee has a minimum of four members: the advisor, the reader, and at least two additional members. It is the student's responsibility—in consultation with the advisor and first reader—to choose the final two committee members. At least three members of the full committee must be members of the Graduate Center doctoral faculty and at least one must be a member of the music department's faculty. The committee may include faculty from outside the music program or even from outside the University, but The Graduate Center does not provide outside readers with honoraria or travel expenses.

When the advisor and first reader are satisfied that the dissertation is ready for a defense, the student should canvass the committee for possible defense dates and times. Members of the committee must receive their copies of the dissertation at least one month before the defense date. At least five weeks before the defense, the student should send an e-mail to the Assistant Program Officer for their area with the complete title of the dissertation, the date and time of the defense, a list of the members of the examining committee with their affiliations, email addresses, and, for outside members, both an email address and a mailing address. The APO will make a request to the provost’s office to schedule the defense. The executive officer will select a chair from among the members of the committee.

The defense has four possible options: 1) the dissertation is accepted as presented, 2) the dissertation is accepted after the approval of minor revisions, 3) the dissertation is accepted after the approval of major revisions, 4) the dissertation is not accepted. If the decision requires minor revisions, the revised document will need to be approved by the chair of the defense before the dissertation may be deposited. If major revisions are required, three members of the committee must approve the revised dissertation. If the dissertation is not accepted, the student will consult with the dissertation advisor and Deputy Executive Officer of the area.

When the dissertation has received final approval, it is ready for deposit. All dissertations are deposited electronically. You will also submit a paper copy of the signature page.

Please consult the Dissertations Office in the Mina Rees Library for detailed deposit policies and procedures.

Degree Recitals (D.M.A. in Performance only)

Students pursuing the D.M.A. in Performance present three graded recitals.

The First and Second Recitals are normally given during the student's second and fourth semesters, respectively, and must be completed prior to taking the Second Examination.

The Dissertation Recital is given after a dissertation proposal has been approved.

Each recital can contain only repertoire that has been approved by the Deputy Executive Officer. The First and Second recital must include a 21st century work.

  1. Students must schedule all recitals through the Concert Office.
  2. Degree recitals typically take place in Elebash Hall on weekday evenings, Monday through Thursday, as availability permits.
  3. It is the responsibility of the student to make sure that the major teacher is available to attend the recital.
  4. The program for each of the three recitals must be cleared with the D.M.A. Performance Deputy Executive Officer in the semester preceding the recital. Programs should include between 60 and 75 minutes of music. The proposed program must include timings for each piece, and a total timing for the entire program. The Deputy Executive Officer and the D.M.A. Committee may ask that the program be modified. Recitals cannot be scheduled without prior approval of the proposed program.
  5. A Recital Contract must be signed by the student and the Concert Office for any degree recital. The contract outlines all particulars regarding recital dates and deadlines.

Concert Office & Booking Procedures

The Music Program maintains its own Concert Office, which oversees the production of concerts, recitals, and large-scale lectures and symposia at the Graduate Center.

Email: phd-dmaconcert@gc.cuny.edu
Phone: 212-817-8607

There are two performing spaces at the Graduate Center.

The Baisley Powell Elebash Recital Hall is the main recital space. Located on the ground level of The Graduate Center, it is one of the finest performance spaces in New York City, with excellent acoustics and a seating capacity of 184.

The Harold M. Proshansky Auditorium (named after the late President of the Graduate Center) is a traditional 384-seat auditorium/lecture hall located on the basement level. It has a shallow stage and is used mainly for lectures and symposia, although it is sometimes available for concerts.

Both performance spaces have Steinway grand pianos.

The two concert halls are in great demand, since they are shared by other disciplines, other divisions of CUNY, and outside academic and commercial interests. Use of the halls must be scheduled well in advance.

Recitals are given on weeknights, Monday through Thursday. The Music Program is assigned a selection of dates each semester for use by the entire department. You may check on available dates by contacting the Concert Office.

Dates are announced late in each semester for recitals to be presented the following semester. As soon as you have chosen a date and one or two alternate dates with your teacher and assisting personnel, you should confirm the availability with the Concert Office.

To ensure a dress rehearsal, it is advised to choose one when scheduling your recital date.

Concerts begin at 7:30 p.m. If the piano is required, tuning occurs at 4:00 p.m.; students can access the stage at 5:00 p.m.

A concert schedule is included on the Music website and is also posted online on the GC events calendar. Timely submission of program materials is required to ensure posting online. Performers are encouraged to prepare and distribute their own flyers.

Submission of a student’s program is required for approval at least two (2) months in advance of the recital date. The program and Recital Contract, submitted to both the DEO of the program and the Concert Office, must include the complete program information. Please refer to the Recital Guidelines for complete submission information.

Printed programs are prepared by the Concert Office. Program notes and stage setup requirements must be provided at least one (1) month prior to the concert.

An archival audio recording is made of all recitals. A CD copy will be provided to you with limited tracking.

Students may opt to hire a professional recording engineer. Engineers must provide their own recording equipment; Graduate Center recording equipment is not available.

Web streaming is available. Please be sure to submit your Release Form with your signed Recital Contract and program.

Program Governance

The program maintains six standing committees:

The committee consists of: (a) elected faculty members (one from the GC and one from each of the CUNY campuses that have five or more members on the Doctoral Faculty); they are elected by the entire Doctoral Faculty, each member of which may vote for a representative from each campus; (b) six elected student members, elected by the students only; and (c) four ex-officio members: the Executive Officer and the three Deputy Executive Officers. All members of the committee, elected and ex officio, may vote. The committee is chaired by the Executive Officer and meets at least once each semester.

This committee consists of nine faculty members appointed by the Executive Officer (with the aim of achieving a balance across the concentrations) and one student member elected by the students. The Executive Officer, who serves on the committee ex officio, may or may not act as chair. Each member of the committee may vote.

This committee is responsible for curricular matters and examinations pertaining both to the four concentrations in the Ph.D. Program (musicology, theory/analysis, ethnomusicology, and composition) and to the D.M.A. Program in Composition. Its recommendations must be submitted to the Executive Committee. Although the student member participates fully in matters concerning curriculum, he/she does not take part in the examination process. The committee meets formally at least once each semester.

This committee is the D.M.A.-Performance counterpart of the Curriculum and Examination Committee. It consists of six faculty members* appointed by the D.M.A.-Performance Deputy Executive Officer and one student member elected by the students. The Deputy Executive Officer of the D.M.A.-Performance Program serves as chair. Its recommendations must be submitted to the Executive Committee. Each member of the committee may vote. Although the student members participates fully in matters concerning curriculum, he/she does not take part in the examination process. The committee meets formally at least once each semester.

** The six appointed faculty members are drawn from the four CUNY campuses that maintain strong performance faculties of their own in the following manner: two members each from Brooklyn and Queens, one member each from City and Hunter.

This committee, which nominates (for approval by the Executive Committee) new members of the Doctoral Faculty and reviews dissertation proposals, consists of five faculty members (one of whom must be the Deputy Executive Officer of the DMA-Performance Program) appointed by the Executive Officer and one student member - who shall already have submitted and had approved a dissertation proposal of his/her own -- elected by the students; the Executive Officer serves ex officio. The committee chair is designated by the Executive Officer. All members may vote.

There are two separate Admissions Committees, which come together at the point at which decisions are made concerning financial aid. 

  • Ph.D. and D.M.A.-Composition Admissions Committee: The committee consists of four faculty members -- one each from the concentrations in musicology, theory/analysis, ethnomusicology, and composition -- appointed by the Executive Officer; at least one student, elected by the students; and the Executive Officer who serves ex officio. The faculty member from composition is the Deputy Executive Officer for Composition, who also heads the ad hoc group of members of the composition faculty who review (prior to the main selection process) the compositions submitted by applicants to that concentration. The committee is chaired by one of the appointed members. All members may vote.
  • D.M.A.-Performance Admissions Committee: The committee consists of an unspecified number of faculty members appointed by the Deputy Executive Officer of the D.M.A.-Performance Program, who chairs the committee. Both the number and the selection of the committee members depends upon the needs (instruments and voice) of any given round of auditions. The written examinations that follow are reviewed by members of the D.M.A.-Performance Committee.
  • Financial Aid: After the selection process is completed, the chairs of the two committees come together with the Executive Officer and the other Deputy Executive Officers in order to consider -- guided by the recommendations of the two admissions committees -- decisions concerning financial aid.

This committee, which conducts elections of (a) faculty and students to the Executive Committee, (b) students to other standing committees, and (c) faculty and student representatives to the Graduate Council, consists of three faculty members and three student members, all of whom are appointed by the Executive Officer. 

Program Leadership

The Ph.D. and D.M.A. Programs in Music are administered by an Executive Officer (appointed by the President of the Graduate Center) and three Deputy Executive Officers, one each for the concentrations in Theory and Analysis, Composition (Ph.D. and D.M.A.), and D.M.A.-Performance (appointed by the Executive Officer and approved by the Provost).

Executive Officer

Norman Carey

Executive Officer and Professor, Music

Assistant Program Officers

Tonisha Alexander

Assistant Program Officer, Music

Jacqueline Martelle

Academic Coordinator/Assistant Program Officer, Music

Department Heads

Jeff Nichols

Associate Professor and Head of Composition, Music

Jane Sugarman

Professor and Head of Ethnomusicology, Music; Professor, Middle Eastern Studies; Professor, Women's and Gender Studies

Anne Stone

Associate Professor and Head of Musicology, Music; Associate Professor, Medieval Studies

John Musto

Professor and Head of Performance, Music

L. Poundie Burstein

Professor and Head of Theory/Analysis, Music