As a Master of Arts student, you have two options to fulfill your “GRAD-CMP”: a comprehensive exam OR a culminating project. Both options are described below.


It is your responsibility to notify your graduate program coordinator that you wish to take the Exam. They will determine for which section of GRAD-CMP you are to register. Your GRAD-CMP Canvas site will provide study materials for the history portion of the exam. The same exam is given twice a year (the works are carried over to the spring). Notification must be given to Prof. Dolp and Prof. Ho by October 1 for the fall exam on Tues Nov 14: 6-9pm and February 1 for the spring exam on Tues April 3: 6-9pm.

The exam consists of two parts: 1) the history part, which is an essay exam (this takes place in Chapin Hall, please contact Prof. Dolp for exact location of the exam) and 2) the theory part, which is a take-home analysis. Prof. Ting Ho ( oversees the theory portion of the exam, please contact him for information. The exam asks you to examine four musical works from a historical and theoretical perspective. The works are the same for both the history and theory parts of the exam, and they are representative of different eras:

  • Middle Ages/Renaissance: pre-1400, 1400-1600
  • Early & Late Common Practice: 1600-1760, 1730-1820, 1815-1910
  • Modern Period
  • Twentieth Century
  • Twenty-First Century

Specifics about the history portion of the exam: Once you have registered for the GRADCMP course, please contact Prof. Dolp ( to make an appointment to discuss your study strategies. During the actual exam, you will be asked to address specific historical questions about these works. You will not know these questions beforehand and you do not have a choice of questions. You will be asked to demonstrate specific knowledge of the historical and cultural issues, with cited references to recent musicological literature.

Past exams have included works/genres such as:


  • Hildegard von Bingen – Orto virtutum
  • Antonio Salieri – opera buffa
  • Robert Schumann – Davidsbündlertänze, Op. 6
  • George Crumb – Ancient Voices of Children


  • Machaut – Messe de Notre Dame
  • J.S. Bach – Mass in B Minor
  • Brahms – Piano Quintet in F Minor, Op. 34
  • Britten – Serenade for Tenor, Horn and Strings


  • Tomás Luis de Victoria – O magnum mysterium
  • C.P.E Bach – Orchestral Symphonies with Twelve Obbligato Parts, Wq. 183
  • César Franck, Trois Chorales
  • John Adams, Nixon in China


  • Petrucci, Harmonice musices odhecaton A
  • Mozart, Don Giovanni
  • Dvorak, Symphony No. 9 in E minor
  • Gubaidulina, In tempus praesens


  • Josquin des Prez, Missa Hercules dux Ferrariae
  • D Scarlatti, K. 96 in D Major and K. 380 in E Major
  • Beethoven, String Quartet in A minor, Op. 132
  • Kaija Saariaho, L’amour de loin

CULMINATING PROJECT                                                                                                    

It is your responsibility to notify your graduate program coordinator, Dr. David Witten (, that you wish to complete the Culminating Project that consists of submitting a written document, and presenting a lecture/demonstration. He will determine for which section of GRAD-CMP you are to register. In choosing the Culminating Project, students will demonstrate comprehensive knowledge and skills gained during their graduate study, and they will gain valuable experience that will benefit their future careers.

Timetable for Fall 

Monday, October 9th, 2017 – Paragraph due, stating the compositions that you plan to explain and compare and contrast.

  • Thursday, November 2nd, 2017 – First draft due, 12-15 page paper
  • Wednesday, November 8th, 2017 – Paper is returned with comments
  • Wednesday, November 15th, 2017 – Second draft due
  • Monday, November 27th, 2017 – Paper is returned with comments
  • Thursday, December 4th, 2017 – Final version due

Timetable for Spring 

  • Fourth week of February, 2018 – Paragraph due, stating the compositions that you plan to explain and compare and contrast.
  • Third week of March, 2018 – First draft due, 12-15 page paper
  • Fourth week of March, 2018 – Paper is returned with comments
  • Fifth week of March, 2018 – Second draft due
  • First week of April, 2018 – Paper is returned with comments
  • Second week of April – Final version due

TIPS: Please schedule your lecture/demo to take place between December 7th-14th (for Fall) or last part of April (for Spring). Ask for specific dates. Schedule a room such as G-55 or 201 or 230 or 330. Do NOT schedule the Leshowitz Recital Hall. It is recommended that you use PowerPoint or some other visual display methods during your 40-50 minute lecture/demonstration. Contact an accompanist ASAP, if you will need one.

Research tools for the Graduate Comprehensive Culminating Project