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Music Theory Placement Test: Undergraduate

Incoming music majors and minors with a strong background in music theory may try to test out of MT 105 (Theory I) and MT 106 (Theory II). Since these courses are integrated courses, students must pass a written and an aural test to test out.

No undergraduate students will be allowed to test out of MT 205-206 (Theory III-IV). Undergraduates will take placement tests in this order, progressing to the next test only if they pass the previous test.

The test may be taken only once; it may not be retaken.

Test Sections

Theory I

  • Written: (Music theory fundamentals are presumed.) Triads, Seventh Chords, Inversions, Figured Bass, Chordal Doubling and Spacing, Part-Writing and Voice-Leading, Harmonic Analysis, Basic First and Second Species Counterpoint, Tonic and Dominant Functions.
  • Aural: Aural identification of diatonic intervals, triad qualities, seventh chord types, harmonic functions (tonic, dominant, pre-dominant), meters and cadence types, as well as rhythmic and melodic dictation, including moveable-do solfege and scale degree numbers.

Theory II

  • Written: Pre-Dominant Function, Non-Chord Tones, 6/4 Chords, the “Phrase Model,” Submediant and Mediant Chords, Phrase-Level form (Period, Sentence, etc.), Secondary Dominants.
  • Aural: Melodic and rhythmic error detection including moveable-do solfege, diatonic bass line dictation, inversions of V7, non-chord tones, all diatonic triads and the cadential 6/4, phrase level form (antecedent, consequent, period, sentence), and secondary dominants/tonicizations.

Transfer students will take all 4 semesters’ written tests to prove their transfer credits. (No aural tests required.)

Recommended Textbooks

Tonality Review

  • Laitz, The Complete Musician
    The textbook for BJU undergraduate theory, and the primary source on which all tonal topics for the test are based.
  • Piper/Clendinning, The Musician’s Guide to Theory and Analysis
    A similar textbook, with outstanding presentation and similar terms/concepts.
  • Gauldin, Harmonic Practice in Tonal Music
  • Kostka/Payne, Tonal Harmony

Post-tonality Review

  • Roig-Francoli, Understanding Post-Tonal Music
    Outstanding text on post-tonal music.
  • Kostka, Materials and Techniques of 20th Century Music
    Excellent reference for basic terms and trends of post-tonal music. Not recommended for set theory, however.
  • Joseph Straus, Introduction to Post-Tonal Theory
    The first couple of chapters are an outstanding introduction to set theory.
  • Piper/Clendinning, Musician’s Guide
    The textbook also includes a unit on post-tonality, including quite possibly the very best (and easiest to understand) introduction to set theory currently available.