Theory and Analysis Exam

This examination tests general knowledge and skills in the area of music theory and analysis.The actual examination must be completed in 90 minutes and will be graded with PASS or FAIL.

General Study Suggestions

  • Kostka, Stephan and Dorothy Payne. Tonal Harmony: With an Introduction to Twentieth-Century Music. 5th edition. McGraw-Hill, 2004. There is an accompanying workbook that could prove helpful in preparing for the exam, and includes 2 CD’s worth of audio recordings of the musical examples in the workbook. The main text itself also has many “self-tests” with answers in the back.
  • Kostka, Stephan. Materials and Techniques of Twentieth-Century Music. 2nd edition. Prentice Hall, 1990.
  • Straus, Joseph N. Introduction to Post-Tonal Theory. 3rd edition. Pearson Prentice Hall, 2005.
  • Simms, Bryan R. Music of the 20th Century. 2nd edition. Schirmer Books, 1996
  • Green, Douglass M. Form in Tonal Music: an Introduction to Analysis. Hort, Renehart and Winson, Inc., 1965.

In multiple-choice questions, there may be more than one correct answer. Respond by selecting all the correct answers
where appropriate. If any part of the answer is incorrect, the entire answer may be regarded as incorrect. As you complete each section, click the “Reveal Answer” button to check your work and get some suggestions for further study in that area.

Error Detection: Questions 1-5 refer to the example below. Indicate the problem(s) for each of the numbered places in the example. Problems may encompass the chord immediately preceding the numbered chord. Note that question 5 refers to both of the final two chords.


Error Detection Example
1. a. incorrect spelling c. parallel 5ths
b. improperly resolved 7th d. chord spacing
2. a. parallel 5ths c. chord spacing
b. wrong inversion d. parallel octaves
3. a. missing 3rd c. bad doubling
b. incorrect spelling d. chord spacing
4. a. incorrect spelling c. unresolved 7th
b. parallel octaves d. wrong inversion
5. a. improperly resolved 7th c. parallel 5ths
b. chord spacing d. missing 3rd
Reveal Answers 1-5



Example A. Bartok, “Free Variations” from Mikrokosmos, Vol. 6


6. What pitch source is used in example A (above)?

a. whole-tone scale d. full chromatic scale
b. D locrian mode e. chromatic scale
c. octatonic scale
Reveal Answer 6



Example B. Alban Berg, “Warm die Lüfte” Op. 2, No. 4, mm. 20-25


7. The circled harmonies (a and b) in Example B (above) are best described respectively as:

a. functional tonal sonorities d. mixed quartal chord and polytriad
b. split-note chord and perfect quartal chord e. cluster and French augmented-6th chord
c. added note chord and quintal chord
Reveal Answer 7



Example C. Row from Berg’s Lyric Suite (1926)


8. From Example C, consider a hexachord A to be the prime form. How does hexachord B relate to hexachord A?

a. transposition d. retrograde inversion
b. transposed retrograde e. no relationship
c. inversion
Reveal Answer 8



9. From Example C, the prime form of the first tetrachord of the row is:

 a. [0,4,5,9]  c. [0,5,8,1]
 b. [0,1,5,8]  d. [1,5,8,0]
Reveal Answer 9



Example D. Bartok, Mikrokosmos, no. 142


10. Which of the following compositional characteristics are found in Example D above?

a. serialism d. free atonality
b. pentatonicism e. pandiatonicism
c. polymeter f. ostinato
Reveal Answer 10



Download and print this music example to answer questions 11-17.

11. The phrases in measures 1-12 form a larger unit known as:
 a. a contrasting period  c. an asymmetrical phrase group
 b. a repeated phrase  d. a parallel period
12. What compositional techniques are employed in measures 5-8?
 a. inversion and cross-rhythm  c. diminution and modulation
 b. imitation and suspension  d. elision and augmentation
13. The harmonic function of the passage in measures 12-20 may be described as:
 a. tonicization of the dominant  c. affirmation of the cadence in the tonic
 b. thematic contrast  d. thematic retrograde
14. The harmonic function of the passage in measures 23-40 may be described as:
 a. development  c. transition
 b. interpolation  d. codetta
15. The phrases in measures 41-56 form a larger unit known as:
 a. a phrase chain  c. a cadenza
 b. a parallel double period  d. a repeated phrase group
16. What compositional technique is employed in measures 55-56?
 a. imitation  c. inversion
 b. overlapping  d. phrase elision
17. This example is probably:
 a. the exposition of a sonata-allegro movement  c. a compound ternary form
 b. the opening of a rondo  d. a minuet and trio
Reveal Answers 11-17



18. For each of the listed 20th century techniques or trends, choose the two works which best represent them. You may reuse a work if you determine it to be the best choice for another trend or technique. (There are 11 choices, so you must reuse at least one.)

a. John Cage, Williams Mix g. Arnold Schoenberg, Pierrot lunaire
b. Aaron Copland, Appalachian Spring h. Alexander Scriabin, Prometheus
c. Charles Ives, Central Park in the Dark i. Igor Stravinsky, Agon
d. György Ligeti, Volumina j. Edgard Varèse, Déserts
e. Steve Reich, Drumming k. Anton Webern, Symphony, Op. 21
f. Terry Riley, In C


Twelve-tone Serialism
Non-Serial Atonality
Folk Elements
Electronic Elements
Aleatory & Chance Elements
Reveal Answer 18



Download and print this file to mark your answers for Questions 19 and 20.

19. Identify each pair of chords and the key in which they would most likely appear. Name the chords using Roman numeral (functional) notation.

Reveal Answer 19



20. Add soprano, alto, and tenor voices as well as a Roman numeral analysis to complete the example according to the given figured bass. Your realization should demonstrate the voice-leading principles of the common-practice period.

Reveal Answer 20