Graduate Placement Exams (GPE)

 
The Graduate Studies Office sends each incoming student an email specifying the Graduate Placement Exams that the student must take. Students who have not received notification should contact the Graduate Studies Office by email for this information. The Graduate Placement Exams (GPE) must be taken during orientation of the first semester in which the student is enrolled as a graduate student. Review courses assigned due to the results of the GPE do not count towards the degree and must be taken in the first semester in which they are available.
 
 

1. GPE in Music History: Description

 
All incoming students may qualify for an exemption from the GPE in Music History if they meet the criteria outlined here. Students who qualify will be notified by the email from the Graduate Studies Office mentioned at the top of this webpage.
 
The recommended method of preparing for the test is to study A History of Western Music (10thed.) and the Norton Anthology of Western Music (7thed.). The GPE in Music History consists of two sections, pre-1750 and post-1750, each of which comprises:
 
1. Thirty multiple-choice questions that measure understanding of the genres and styles characteristic of particular periods and major composers.
2. Three essay questions, of which the student chooses one. Each question will be accompanied by a related source reading or score.
 
You will have 40 minutes to answer the multiple-choice questions and 50 minutes to answer the essay question assigned to each half of the exam (i.e. pre-1750 and post-1750). Thus you will have a total of 180 minutes to complete the entire exam.
 
Other Important Information
You will take the GPE in music history on a computer provided by the university in the Sage Hall Testing Center. You will log into the computer station with your EUID and password. You may use scratch paper and a writing utensil while you take the test. You will be required to deposit other personal belongings, including your cell phone, in a secure space at the Center.
 
Scoring Rubrics
The multiple choice and essay questions of the GPE in Music History are graded independently. You must correctly answer at least eighteen of thirty multiple choice questions (i.e. 60%) and earn six points out of ten on the essay to pass the entire exam. Your essay will not be graded if you fail to answer at least eighteen multiple choice questions correctly.
 
GPE in Music History (Pre-1750)
Multiple Choice Essay Review Course
18-30/ exempt* 6-10 No review course necessary
18-30/ exempt* 0-5 MUMH 5500
0-17 Not graded MUMH 5500
*Applies to doctoral students who qualify for an exemption from the multiple-choice portion only. Master's students who are exempt from the multiple-choice portion of the GPE are also exempt from the essay portion. By contrast, all doctoral students must take the essay portion regardless of whether they are exempt from the multiple-choice portion.
 
GPE in Music History (Post-1750)
Multiple Choice Essay Review Course
18-30/ exempt* 6-10 No review course necessary
18-30/ exempt* 0-5 MUMH 5510
0-17 Not graded MUMH 5510
*Applies to doctoral students who qualify for an exemption from the multiple-choice portion only. Master's students who are exempt from the multiple-choice portion of the GPE are also exempt from the essay portion. By contrast, all doctoral students must take the essay portion regardless of whether they are exempt from the multiple-choice portion.

2. Graduate Placement Exam in Music History: Sample Questions

 
Multiple-Choice Questions
The multiple-choice questions are designed to measure your understanding of the genres and styles characteristic of particular periods as well as major composers. Some questions will be tied to one or more scores in the following manner:
 
Score #1. Ave maris stella (chant)
1. The declamation of this chant is best described as
a. strictly syllabic
b. strictly melismatic
c. a mixture of syllabic and melismatic
 
2. This chant is in Mode __.
a. 1
b. 5
c. 8
 
Score #2. Missa Ave maris stella
3. The opening of this mass movement features
a. homophony
b. imitation
c. monophony
 
4. The chant appears in
a. the superius
b. the tenor
c. all four voices
 
5. The treatment of the chant in the mass is best described as
a. strict
b. paraphrase
c. augmentation
 
6. This is a _____ mass.
a. cantus firmus
b. paraphrase
c. imitation
 
7. The most likely composer is
a. Josquin
b. Gabrielli
c. Du Fay
 
Click here to view the correct answers.
 
Other multiple-choice questions will not be based on a score and may resemble the following:
 
1. Which of the following composers studied, recorded, and transcribed Hungarian folk music?
a. Charles Ives
b. Bela Bartok
c. Igor Stravinsky
 
2. 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
 
3. When and where did Louis Armstrong’s career as a performer develop?
a. New Orleans, 1910s
b. Vienna, 1920s
c. New York, 1950s
 
Click here to view the correct answers.
 
Essay Questions
For each part of the GPE (pre-1750 and post-1750) you will be given three essay prompts associated with one of the three style periods specific to each part of the exam (Medieval, Renaissance, Baroque; Classical, Romantic, and 20th/21st Century). You must choose one of the three prompts. Each prompt will be accompanied by a primary-source reading or a score.
 
Your essay  must have a thesis statement and must be focused and well-written. The essays will be graded on a ten-point scale, of which five points will be based on content and five on the quality of writing.
 
Sample Essay Question
You have been given a score of Clara Schumann’s 1843 setting of Heinrich Heine’s poem “Lorelei.” The text and translation are below. Write an essay that explains how this piece exemplifies broader trends in musical and literary Romanticism by considering its context and style historically. Your essay should address the following points:
  • What is the genre of this piece? Name two or three other composers who worked in this genre, including information on when and where they worked.
  • Does this piece resemble stylistically other nineteenth-century pieces that you know – either in the same genre, or in others? Be specific.
  • How does Schumann dramatize the text’s narrative musically? Again – be specific, and reference specific musical features by measure number.
  • How do aspects of the text and its musical setting align with your conceptions of Romanticism in music and poetry? Be specific, and feel free to reference any material that supports your claims.
Organize your essay as you see fit, being sure to establish and defend a clear thesis.
 
Ich weiß nicht, was soll es bedeuten
Daß ich so traurig bin;
Ein Märchen aus alten Zeiten
Das kommt mir nicht aus dem Sinn.
I do not understand what it should mean
That I should feel so sad;
A tale from long ago
Will not leave my mind.
Die Luft ist kühl und es dunkelt,
Und ruhig fließt der Rhein;
Der Gipfel des Berges funkelt
Im Abendsonnenschein.
The air is cool, and it grows dark,
And the Rhine flows peacefully;
The peaks of the mountains glow
In the evening sun.
Die schönste Jungfrau sitzet
Dort oben wunderbar,
Ihr goldnes Geschmeide blitzet
Sie kämmt ihr goldenes Haar.
The most beautiful maiden sits
Up there in wondrous beauty,
Her golden garments shine
As she combs her golden hair.
Sie kämmt es mit goldenem Kamme
Und singt ein Lied dabei;
Das hat eine wundersame
Gewaltige Melodei.
She combs it with a golden comb
As she sings a song;
It has a wonderful
Powerful melody.
Den Schiffer im kleinen Schiffe
Ergreift es mit wildem Weh,
Er schaut nicht die Felsenriffe,
Er schaut nur hinauf in die Höh.
The sailor in his small ship
Is seized by her song and filled with overwhelming grief,
He looks not at the dangerous rocks ahead,
He only looks up at the heights.
Ich glaube, die Wellen verschlingen
Am Ende Schiffer und Kahn;
Und das hat mit ihrem Singen
Die Lorelei getan.
I know the waves will bring
An end to the sailor and ship;
And this, by her singing,
Is the Lorelei’s doing.

3. Graduate Placement Exam in Music Theory

The GPE in Music Theory consists of a part-writing section and an analysis section.
 
Part-Writing
The bass line of a chromatic chorale is given with figured bass. You provide a harmonization in chorale style (SATB) and a harmonic analysis. A sample is given:
 
Analysis
This section will include analysis of some Romantic era harmony excerpts and identifying phrase types and cadences in a Classical era example.
 
Scoring Rubric
Score  Review Course
70-100: Pass  No review course necessary
0-69 MUTH 5010