Undergraduate Audition Repertoire

Everyone who applies to an undergraduate music research or performance program at McGill must play an instrument and audition. Applicants have the option of attending an on-campus audition or submitting a recorded video audition. One does not take priority over the other. All applicants have equal opportunities for admission.

For both performance and non-performance programs:

Brass and Woodwinds

Audition repertoire

Brass:

  • The repertoire for your instrument should demonstrate your ability to play in a lyrical manner and to articulate clearly in both legato and staccato styles.
  • Prepare one major solo piece with piano accompaniment from the traditional repertoire for your instrument.
  • Prepare a technical étude.

Woodwind:

We encourage woodwind applicants to prepare a complete or partial work by a composer who has been traditionally underrepresented by virtue of their gender, sexual orientation, disability, race, ethnicity or cultural heritage. The repertoire for your instrument should demonstrate your ability to play in a lyrical manner and to articulate clearly in both legato and staccato styles.

Flute

All Undergraduates:

  • Fauré, Fantasie, Op. 79 (or an equivalent work)
  • Piece of the candidate’s choice (candidates are encouraged to perform a piece by a traditionally underrepresented composer however this is not mandatory).
  • Study of the candidate’s choice

All other Woodwind instruments:

The repertoire for your instrument should demonstrates your ability to play in a lyrical manner and to articulate clearly in both legato and staccato styles.

  • Prepare two contrasting solo works from the traditional repertoire for your instrument. Partial works are acceptable.

Early Music

Audition repertoire

Includes: Baroque Violin, Viola, Cello, Viola da Gamba, Lute, Flute, Recorder, Oboe, Early Brass.

  • Prepare at least 20 minutes of repertoire.
  • From the baroque period (approximately 1600-1750), include:
    • at least two movements (slow and fast) from a sonata by a German or Italian composer;
    • an unaccompanied work (transcriptions of material originally written for another instrument are accepted);
    • at least two movements, including a prelude, from a suite by a French composer.
  • You may be asked to sight-read (on-campus audition).

Early Music Voice

On-campus audition screening repertoire (all voice types)

TBA

Audition repertoire

We require that you include at least two songs or arias from the baroque repertoire or earlier.

For performance programs (BMus and Licentiate):

  • Prepare five contrasting songs or arias to be performed from memory.
  • Represent at least three of the four major languages (English, French, German, Italian).
  • Select the first two pieces to be performed. Subsequent choices may be made by the panel.
  • If you are participating in on-campus auditions:
    • Provide eight typed copies of your repertoire list for the audition panel. Copies of the music for the panel are not required.

For non-performance programs:

  • Prepare three contrasting songs or arias to be performed from memory and representing at least two languages.
  • Select the first piece to be performed. Subsequent choices may be made by the panel.
  • If you are participating in on-campus auditions:
    • Provide eight typed copies of your repertoire list for the audition panel. Copies of the music for the panel are not required.

For both performance and non-performance programs:

Recorded Video Auditions:

  • You can submit recordings from live performances – as long as the recording is not too distant overall, and that the sound of the voice is very clear.
  • For all recordings, less reverberant sound capture is more indicative of the singer’s abilities and therefore a more suitable and effective submission.

Guitar

Audition repertoire

  • Prepare three pieces of contrasting styles, one of which may be an étude selected from the classical guitar repertoire.
  • Select works with musical and technical content appropriate to your knowledge and abilities.

*Please note that for recorded auditions, guitar applicants must submit one video with all pieces recorded in one take.


Harp

Audition repertoire

  • Prepare three pieces of different styles.
  • Include a 20th-century composition and an étude. 

Harpsichord

Audition repertoire

  • Prepare three pieces in contrasting styles, adding up to at least 20 minutes.
  • Include:
    • A work by J.S. Bach.
    • A work by one of the French clavecinistes (Couperin, Rameau, D'Anglebert, Duphly, etc).
    • Another work of your choice.
  • You may be asked to sight-read (on-campus audition).

Jazz

On-campus audition screening repertoire

TBA

On-campus audition repertoire

For Bass, Electric Bass, Guitar, Piano, Saxophone, Trombone, Trumpet, Vibraphone, Voice:

  1. Select one piece from each of the three categories below. For each selection, prepare the melody and an improvised solo. The tunes listed below are examples. If you chose a tune that is not on the list, please bring a lead sheet for the rhythm section. Bassists: Be prepared to demonstrate walking lines as well as solo ability on all three pieces. Pianists and guitarists: Be prepared to demonstrate comping as well as solo ability on all three pieces.
    • Blues (examples: Billie's Bounce; Au Privave; Straight No Chaser; Tenor Madness; Sonny Moon for Two; Blues Walk).
    • Ballads (examples: Body and Soul; What's New; I Can't Get Started; I Fall in Love too Easily).
    • Jazz Standards (examples: Blue Bossa; Solar; All the Things You Are; So What; Green Dolphin Street; What is this Thing Called Love; Stella by Starlight; Four; Night and Day).
  2. Prepare a Classical Study (not required for Vibraphone): A short study or étude of your choice. For Saxophone, prepare a study by Marcel Mule, Ferling or Guy Lacour.
    Jazz Voice applicants can submit one of the following in place of a classical study:
    - “Don’t Get Scared” —King Pleasure Album: King Pleasure King Pleasure Sings/Annie Ross Sing
    - ""Doodlin’” —Sarah Vaughan Album: No Count Sarah
    - “Red Top” —King Pleasure with Betty Carter Album: Red Top
    - "Billie’s Bounce” —Eddie Jefferson Album: Letter From Home
    - "Parker’s Mood” — King Pleasure Album: King Pleasure Sings/Annie Ross Sings
  3. Prepare one transcription and play it along with the original recording. For example, play along with the original recording of Charlie Parker's improvised solo on Now's the Time. The object is to evaluate accuracy, style, time concept, articulation, phrasing and sound. The transcription should be memorized and, for live auditions, be sure to bring a CD of the original recording of your transcription to play along with.
  4. Be prepared to play/sing major scales and modes, major, minor, dominant seventh chords and arpeggios, diminished seventh chords and arpeggios, diminished and whole tone scales.
  5. Be prepared to sight read.

For Jazz Drums (on-campus only):

  1. Bring your own cymbals, sticks, brushes, felts, cymbal sleeves, hi-hat clutches.
  2. Prepare a short study (2-3 minutes) to show rudimental skills.
  3. Prepare a short transcription (1-2 choruses) of an important jazz drummer (such as Max Roach, Joe Morello, Roy Haynes, Art Blakey). The object is to evaluate accuracy, style, time concept, articulation, phrasing and sound. The transcription should be memorized and, for live auditions, be sure to bring a CD of the original recording of your transcription to play along with.
  4. Be prepared to demonstrate the following proficiencies (examples of pieces that could be performed: Billie's Bounce; Au Privave; Straight No Chaser; Tenor Madness; Sonny Moon for Two; Blues Walk, All theThings You Are; So What, Green Dolphin Street; Stella by Starlight; Four; Night and Day):
    • Slow/Medium/Fast Swing, Jazz Shuffle, Straight-8th styles (“ECM”, Cuban and Brazilian grooves), Afro-Cuban-12/8.
    • Trading 4's, 8's or choruses on a blues, 32-bar AABA tune, and tunes of alternating latin, swing, latin, swing  sections, while keeping the form of the pieces.
    • Ability to play with brushes as well as sticks and to change smoothly from brushes to sticks.
  5. Sight read a typical drum chart and a rudimental style snare drum solo.

Recorded audition repertoire

For Bass, Electric Bass, Guitar, Piano, Saxophone, Trombone, Trumpet, Vibraphone, Voice:

If you cannot attend an on-campus audition please prepare a recorded video audition.

  1. Submit a video recording of three jazz pieces (ballad, blues and one standard) and play the head and improvise. Play-along recordings are not acceptable.
  2. Submit one transcription (including a PDF of the score) and one classical study.

    Jazz Voice applicants can submit one of the following in place of a classical study:
    - “Don’t Get Scared” —King Pleasure Album: King Pleasure King Pleasure Sings/Annie Ross Sings
    - “Doodlin’” —Sarah Vaughan Album: No Count Sarah
    - “Red Top” —King Pleasure with Betty Carter Album: Red Top
    - “Billie’s Bounce” —Eddie Jefferson Album: Letter From Home
    - “Parker’s Mood” — King Pleasure Album: King Pleasure Sings/Annie Ross Sings

  3. Piano and guitar applicants: Include (play) chords behind someone else's solo. Voice applicants: Improvise. Bass applicants: Play a head, walk and solo.

For Jazz Drums:

  1. Submit a video recording of three jazz pieces (blues, standard and a piece of your choosing) with a variety of tempos, forms and feels. Play-along recordings are not accepted. Videos should feature live performances with real musicians. Examples of pieces that could be performed: Billie's Bounce; Au Privave; Straight No Chaser; Tenor Madness; Sonny Moon for Two; Blues Walk, All the Things You Are; So What, Green Dolphin Street; Stella by Starlight; Four; Night and Day. Be prepared to demonstrate the following proficiencies on your recording:
    • For each selection, accompany melody/solos and play an improvised solo (unaccompanied solo, accompanied solo, or trading).
    • Demonstrate your ability to play with brushes as well as sticks and to change smoothly from brushes to sticks.
  2. Transcription:
    • Submit a PDF of one short transcription (1-2 choruses) of an important jazz drummer (such as Max Roach, Joe Morello, Roy Haynes, Art Blakey). The object is to evaluate accuracy, style, time concept, articulation, phrasing and sound. The transcription must be done by you and should be memorized.
    • Submit a video of you playing it along with the original recording.
  3. Submit a short study/etude (2-3 minutes) to show rudimental skills

Organ

Audition repertoire

Your audition will last approximately 30 minutes. 

  • Prepare three pieces, including:
    • a Prelude and Fugue from North German school (Buxtehude, Bruhns, Lubeck, Bach),
    • a slow movement from a Bach trio sonata or Bach D minor trio (BWV 583),
    • a short romantic or contemporary piece.
  • Memorization of at least one piece is preferable, but not compulsory.
  • You will be asked to sight-read the following:
    • Four-part harmonizations of a chorale to demonstrate your understanding of part writing. Play all voices on the keyboard.
    • Three-part trio texture to illustrate independence of hands and feet.
  • You may be asked questions to determine your comprehension of basic problems of organ registration and construction. Reference: The Organ Handbook by Hans Klotz (Concordia). 

Percussion

Audition repertoire

If participating in on-campus auditions, you will be asked to sight-read on snare drum, timpani and keyboard (2 mallets).

Snare drum:

  • long roll; closed roll
  • one rudimental solo
  • one solo from Delécluse méthode de caisse-claire, Lepak, or Cirone or similar
  • orchestral excerpts: Ravel: Bolero; Prokofiev: Peter & the Wolf

Keyboard:

  • one 2-mallet solo; one 4-mallet solo
  • orchestral excerpts: Mozart: The Magic Flute; Ravel: Ma mère l'oye

Timpani:

  • one study from Mitchell Peters: Intermediate Timpani Studies, Saul Goodman: Timpani Method, or J. Delécluse studies or similar

Piano

Audition repertoire

At least three solo pieces (i.e., no concertos) must be presented:

-- one from category a
-- one from category b, and
-- one from category c, d, e, or f

a) At least one movement of a sonata (or a group of variations) from the 18th/early 19th century, e.g., Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert.
b) One piece from the 19th century, e.g., Mendelssohn, Chopin, Schumann, Liszt, Brahms.
c) One piece from the 17th/18th century, e.g., Bach, Scarlatti, Rameau, Handel, Couperin.
d) One piece from the end of the 19th/early 20th century, e.g., Fauré, Debussy, Ravel, Albeniz, Schoenberg, Reger, Scriabin, Rachmaninoff.
e) One piece from the 20th century (up to c.1950), e.g., Bartok, Webern, Hindemith, Stravinsky, Prokofiev, Messiaen.
f) One piece from the contemporary repertoire, e.g., Stockhausen, Boulez, Berio, Xenakis, Mather, Cherney, Rea, Tremblay, Vivier.

For Performance programs (B.Mus., L.Mus.), a minimum of 20 minutes of repertoire should be offered including one substantial work.  The candidate will select the first work to be performed but may be interrupted by the panel. Sight reading may be given and memorization is required, with the exception of recent contemporary works (category f).

For non-performance programs, 15 minutes (or more) must be prepared, with memorization optional. The candidate will select the first work to be performed. No sight reading will be given.


Strings

Audition repertoire

Performance Applicants:

Violin:

  • Scales (for on-campus auditions only): major, minor melodic and harmonic, 3 octaves, 8, 12 and 24 notes per bow
  • Arpeggios (for on-campus auditions only): 3 octaves, 9 notes per bow
  • Unaccompanied Bach: 2 contrasting movements
  • First and second movements from a classical, romantic or 20th-century concerto
  • All concertos and unaccompanied Bach to be played from memory.

Viola:

  • Scales: one three-octave scale, major, minor melodic and harmonic, 3, 6, 8, 12, and 24 notes per bow
  • Arpeggios: one three-octave arpeggio, major and minor, 3 notes per bow
  • Unaccompanied Bach: two contrasting movements
  • First and second movements of a pre-classic, classical, romantic or 20th-century concerto or sonata
  • All concertos and unaccompanied Bach to be played from memory.

Cello:

  • Unaccompanied Bach: 2 contrasting movements
  • First and second movements of any pre-classic, classical or romantic concerto
  • All concertos and unaccompanied Bach to be played from memory.

Double Bass:

  • 2 contrasting movements of a standard concerto or sonata, with piano accompaniment (please provide the piano part)
  • Any movement from a solo Bach suite (in any key) or any study for solo double bass
  • 2 contrasting exerpts from the standard orchestral repertoire
  • Memorization of the audition repertoire is not required.

For Non-performance Programs:

Cello, Viola, Violin:

Please prepare the first movement of a concerto plus 2 movements of Bach with memorization optional.

Double Bass:

Please prepare the first movement of a concerto, any movement of Bach or Etude and one orchestral excerpt with memorization optional.


Voice

On-campus audition screening repertoire (all voice types)

TBA

On-campus and video-recorded repertoire

For performance programs (BMus and Licentiate):

  • Prepare five contrasting songs or arias to be performed from memory.
  • Represent at least three of the four major languages (English, French, German, Italian).
  • Select the first two pieces to be performed. Subsequent choices may be made by the panel.
  • If you are participating in on-campus auditions:
    • Provide eight typed copies of your repertoire list for the audition panel. Copies of the music for the panel are not required.

For non-performance programs:

  • Prepare three contrasting songs or arias to be performed from memory and representing at least two languages.
  • Select the first piece to be performed. Subsequent choices may be made by the panel.
  • If you are participating in on-campus auditions:
    • Provide eight typed copies of your repertoire list for the audition panel. Copies of the music for the panel are not required.

For both performance and non-performance programs:

Recorded Video Auditions:

  • You can submit recordings from live performances – as long as the recording is not too distant overall, and that the sound of the voice is very clear.
  • For all recordings, less reverberant sound capture is more indicative of the singer’s abilities and therefore a more suitable and effective submission.
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