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 in the beginning of the semester you wish to take the exam at the latest. You may also send a notification the semester before, if you wish.

The exam consists of two parts: 1) the history part, which is an essay exam and 2) the theory part, an analysis. The exams this year will be in TAKE-HOME format. You will have 1-week to complete the theory portion and 2-weeks to complete the history portion. Please contact the Cali Theory Coordinator, Marcos Balter, for information on the theory portion. The history 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                                                                                                    

If you are interested in presenting a culminating project, it is your responsibility to contact the graduate program coordinator, Dr. David Witten (, for more information.

Research tools for the Graduate Comprehensive Culminating Project