University of North Texas

College of Music | Graduate Studies

Graduate Placement Exam in Music History: Sample Questions


Pre-1750

Thirty-six multiple-choice questions will appear on the exam. Six of them will concern listening excerpts.
 
Medieval Music
1. The medieval liturgy of Rome was divided into:
​a. Mass and Office​
b. Matins and Lauds
c. Antiphons and Responsories
 
2. An authentic mode and its plagal counterpart have the same:
a. final
b. tenor
c. range
 
3. The form of the ballata most resembles that of the
a. ballade
b. virelai
c. rondeau
 
Renaissance Music
4. In which voice does the borrowed melody in a cantus firmus Mass typically occur?
a. the tenor
b. the soprano
c. the bass
 
5. The sixteenth-century canzona can better be described as a(n):
a. genre based upon canons
b. lightly imitative instrumental form
c. instrumental song
 
6. This composer is most associated with the music of the Counter-Reformation:
a. Cristóbal de Morales
b. Josquin des Prez
c. Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina
 
Baroque Music
7. This poet’s libretti established the conventions of opera seria.
a. Pietro Metastasio
b. Carlo Goldoni
c. Ranieri de' Calzabigi
 
8. An aria in which roughly the same music is repeated over different stanzas of poetry is known as a:
a. ground bass aria
b. strophic aria
c. dance air
 
9. The ritornello structures in this composer’s concertos greatly influenced J.S. Bach:
a. Corelli
b. Torelli
c. Vivaldi
 
Listening
Audio excerpts from three compositions will be played. You will answer two multiple-choice questions about each of them. The questions for pre-1750 audio excerpts typically concern form, genre, and types of cadences and declamation. All of the excerpts appear in the Norton Anthology of Western Music.
 
Essay (45 minutes)
You will be given three essay topics and three score examples and these instructions:
 
"Write one essay on a topic or score excerpt chosen from the list below. If you choose to write on a topic for the pre-1750 exam, you must write on a score excerpt for the post-1750 part of the exam. If you choose to write on a score excerpt for the pre-1750 exam, your post-1750 essay must deal with a topic."
 
Your essay on a topic must have a thesis, and it must be focused and well written. The essays will be evaluated with respect not only to content but also to the quality of the writing. Please be sure to answer all the questions associated with the topic or score excerpt!
 
Sample topic
Recitative style was one of the key technical developments of the Baroque period. Write an essay on its history and development.  Begin by describing recitative writing in detail; include consideration of aspects of composition and performance. Then address the cultural and musical motivations for the early-seventeenth-century Italian creation of recitative. Finally, discuss one way in which recitative changed later in the seventeenth century, either in Italy around 1700 or in some other country (e.g. France, England, Germany, or Spain).  Cite specific examples of pieces and composers associated with the specific types of recitative that you discuss.
 
No sample scores or questions are provided. For the pre-1750 score identification exam, we have chosen examples from the Norton Anthology of Western Music and asked questions concerning, for instance, the genre, approximate place and time of composition, and likely venue for performance and to identify features in the score to support your claims.
 

Post-1750

Thirty-six multiple-choice questions will appear on the exam. Six will concern listening excerpts.
 
Classical Music
1. Which of the following composers is most closely associated with the empfindsamer style?
a. Stamitz
b. C.P.E. Bach
c. Pergolesi
 
2. How did Mozart earn money in Vienna?
a. He had a prestigious position in Emperor Joseph II’s court
b. He worked as a freelance composer, teacher, and pianist
c. He was independently wealthy, and didn’t need to work
 
3. In the 1790s, Haydn made two important trips to which city?
a. Paris
b. Rome
c. London
 
Romantic Music
4. Beethoven’s “Eroica” Symphony was originally dedicated to whom?
a. Frederick the Great of Prussia
b. Joseph Haydn
c. Napoleon Bonaparte
 
5. Which of the following composers wrote out in detail the vocal ornaments in his music?
a. Rossini
b. Berlioz
c. Schumann
 
6. Which of the following composers is most closely associated with the idea of the Gesamtkunstwerk?
a. Johannes Brahms
b. Modest Musorgsky
c. Richard Wagner
 
Twentieth-Century Music
7. Which of the following composers studied, recorded, and transcribed Hungarian folk music?
a. Charles Ives
b. Bela Bartok
c. Igor Stravinsky
 
8. The development of serialism and its early use by Arnold Schoenberg, Alban Berg, and Anton Webern is most closely associated with which of the following cities and decades?
a. Vienna, 1920s
b. New York, 1950s
c. Darmstadt, 1950s
 
9. When and where did Louis Armstrong’s career as a performer develop?
a. New Orleans, 1910s
b. Vienna, 1920s
c. New York, 1950s
 
Listening
Audio excerpts from three compositions will be played. You will answer two multiple-choice questions about each of them. The questions about post-1750 audio excerpts typically concern form, texture, genre, approach to performing, or possible composer. All of the excerpts appear in the Norton Anthology of Western Music.
 
Essay (45 minutes)
You will be given three essay topics and three score examples and these instructions:
 
"Write one essay on a topic or score excerpt chosen from the list below. If you choose to write on a topic for the pre-1750 exam, you must write on a score excerpt for the post-1750 part of the exam. If you choose to write on a score excerpt for the pre-1750 exam, your post-1750 essay must deal with a topic."
 
Your essay on a topic must have a thesis, and it must be focused and well written. The essays will be evaluated with respect not only to content but also to the quality of the writing. Please be sure to answer all the questions associated with the topic or score excerpt!
 
Sample topic
Starting in the second third of the eighteenth century, sonata form emerged as one of the central concepts for musical organization, and it retained prestige and currency over the nineteenth century.  Write an essay on the history of this idea. Compare eighteenth- and nineteenth-century views of sonata form and discuss how each view reflects a different attitude toward musical structures in general. Bring up at least two specific musical pieces (one for each century) that properly represent your observations.
 
No sample scores or questions are provided. For the post-1750 score identification exam, we have chosen score excerpts that appear in the Norton Anthology of Western Music and asked questions concerning, for instance, the genre, approximate place and time of composition, and likely composer and to identify features in the score to support your claims.