The general examinations are taken in May of PhD 4
- By October 1: Submit to the Composition Area a proposal of the four works for the oral presentation.
- By November 1: Notify graduatestudies.music [at] mcgill.ca of intent to take the exams next semester. At the same time, notify the Composition Area Chair and the Music Graduate Studies Office of eligibility for exemptions from certain exams. The following exams can be waived (see written exams): Harmony; Counterpoint; Orchestration I and II.
- By November 15: Supervisor submits committee membership list to graduatestudies.music [at] mcgill.ca
The general exams consist of four parts: Harmony, Counterpoint, Orchestration I & II, and Oral Presentation.
- Exam 1. Harmony (three-hour session)
Completion of a given passage of not more than four instrumental parts in 18th or 19th- century style.
May be waived if the student has completed MUCO 242, Tonal Composition 1b, or the equivalent, at the discretion of the Composition Area Committee. This information should be submitted to the Graduate Studies Office at the same time as applying for the exams.
- Exam 2. Counterpoint (three-hour session)
Completion of a given passage of up to four vocal parts. Tonal or Modal at the choice of the student.
May be waived if the student has completed MUTH 302, Modal Counterpoint 2, or MUTH 304, Tonal Counterpoint 2 or the equivalent, at the discretion of the Composition Area Committee. This information should be submitted to the Graduate Studies Office at the same time as applying for the exams.
- Exam 3. Orchestration Parts I & II: Take-home examination (typically Friday, 9am - Monday, 9am)
Part 1: Orchestration of a given piano score.
Part 2: Piano reduction of a given full score, retaining essential stylistic and timbral characteristics of the original. Exam is emailed from, and returned to, the Music Graduate Studies Office.
Upon request of the student, the orchestration exams can be written anytime in the month preceding the exam period.
The Orchestration exam I & II may be waived if the student has completed MUCO 460, Orchestration 3, or the equivalent, at the discretion of the Composition Area Committee. This information should be submitted to the Music Graduate Studies at the same time as applying for the exams.
- Exam 4. Oral presentation of four works
- Harmonic/Formal Analysis of a late romantic work (up to 1910)
- Analysis of a work composed between 1911- 1975
- Analysis of a work composed after 1975
- Analysis of a Canadian work
The oral presentation will take place the week following the written examinations and will have a duration of two to three hours.
Part 1: Four 20-minute presentations, one for each of the four works, each followed by a 10- minute question/answer period, demonstrating a wide knowledge of repertoire, history, compositional practices, theory and aesthetics of 19th to 21st century music with minimal handout or PowerPoint slides.
Part 2: A short question and answer session following the presentation of the four works, based upon the written examinations.
Regulations for Oral Presentation
- 1-page tabloid handout or 5 PowerPoint slides per work.
- Candidate cannot read the presentation. Document reminders are allowed: one page letter size per work for personal use
Begin preparing as early as possible, using placement exams to determine where to put special effort.
Preparation should include:
- Weekly meetings with supervisors
- Writing sample questions and answers
- Completing sample orchestrations and exercises
- Preparing and defending mock questions
- Responding to listening examples, etc.
- Collaborating with other Area students who have completed, or are preparing for, their comprehensives.
- Three full-time staff members from the student's area of specialization
- One member from a different area within the Department
- The Associate Dean of Graduate Studies in Music, or an appointed representative, serves as Chair.