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Graduate Music History Diagnostic Exam

Students are examined on their knowledge of Western music history from the Middle Ages to the present. The test is given in one of two formats:


This exam consists of approximately 110 questions. In Part A, students will answer a series of questions regarding an unknown musical example being played. In Part B, students will answer a wide range of questions regarding style and context (social, cultural, political, and historical); this part will also include some score identifications.

Sample Questions for the Multiple-Choice Exam:

For Part A:
The example represents the repertory of the
a. St. Martial School
b. Notre Dame School
c. Trecento
d. Burgundian School

For Part B:
To which of the following genres did Giuseppe Verdi NOT contribute:
a. requiem
b. opera
c. oratorio
d. string quartet


This exam consists of approximately 50 questions. The following two questions are typical. The answers given are the sort that would be deemed acceptable.

Sample Questions for the Short-Answer Exam

Q Identify the Dies irae and explain its significance in the history of music.
A The Dies irae is a Gregorian chant, part of the Requiem Mass, the melody of which was quoted as a symbol of death or the diabolical by many composers of the 19th and 20th centuries.

Q Who wrote Tristan und Isolde and what is its significance in the history of music?
A Richard Wagner; the opera’s chromaticism greatly influenced composers of the late 19th-century.

For more information about Musicology / Music History at LSU and information on preparing for the music history diagnostic exam, see the following thirteen-minute video.

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