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Music Theory & Composition

Placement and Proficiency Exams

Theory Placement Exam for Entering Freshman

If you do not have any credits for theory class from another university or AP class, then you should take the Theory Placement test. This test, given on the computer at or before summer orientation, places you into either Music Theory 100: Fundamentals of Music or Music Theory 110: Theory I.

TThe test consists of 86 questions on notation; rhythm and meter; scales. modes, and key signatures; intervals; triads and seventh chords; triads in keys; and analysis (see "" below). You must pass this test with a 70% in order to place into Music Theory 110. You can retake the test if you want.

Transfer Student Theory Placement Test

If you have taken theory somewhere else and are transferring credits, you will need to take the Theory Transfer Placement test. This one test covers topics in all the theory classes (MUTH 100, 110, 120, 210, and 220).

  • Introduction and Terminology - definitions of general music terminology
  • Notation – treble, bass, alto and tenor clefs; note names and register designations; accidentals; half and whole steps, enharmonic notes
  • Rhythm – note and rest durations; ties and slurs; duplets and triplets; syncopation; meters and time signatures; tempo designations.
  • Scales, Modes, and Key Signatures - major, natural, harmonic, and melodic minor scales; relative and parallel  major and minor; key signatures; scale degrees, function names and solfege;   chromatic, pentatonic, whole tone, and octatonic scales; modes
  • Intervals – simple and compound intervals; inversions; consonant and dissonant; enharmonic intervals
  • Triads & Seventh chords -- quality and position/inversion of both triads and seventh chords 
  • Triads in Keys & Analysis – roman and Arabic numeral designations of triads in keys; figured bass symbols; harmonic progressions
  • Review of triads and seventh chords
  • Counterpoint – first, second and fourth species counterpoint
  • Part Writing – basic rules of root position, first inversion and second inversion primary triads
  • Cadences
  • Non-Chord Tones
  • Melodic organization – motive, phrase, periods, formal diagrams
  • Harmonizing melodies
  • Review of part-writing and cadences
  • Part-writing of secondary chords
  • Harmonic rhythm
  • Harmonizing melodies
  • Seventh Chords in keys
  • Secondary Dominants and leading tone chords
  • Modulation—closely related keys; common chord, direct/phrase, sequential, chromatic modulations
  • Small Forms -- binary, ternary, and rounded binary (composite ternary) forms
  • Review of secondary dominants and modulation
  • Chromatic Harmony -- mixture/borrowed chords; Neapolitan; augmented sixth chords; chromatic mediants; altered dominants; common-tone diminished seventh chords
  • Modulations using chromatic pivot chords, enharmonic reinterpretations of chords, and linear modulatory techniques
  • Large Forms -- Variation forms; Sonata form; Rondo form; Sonata-Rondo; Fugue
  • The Limits of Functional Tonality -- Wagner & chromaticism; Scriabin & the Mystic Chord; Non-functional harmony; Non-functional pitch centricity
  • "Impressionism" & non-functional harmonic progression -- Scale Theory; Non-triadic harmonic construction
  • "Expressionism" and introduction to set theory including Set Theory Transformations
  • Folk Influences and Neoclassicism
  • Twelve-Tone & Serialism -- Basic Transformations & Matrix construction
  • Music Since 1950 -- textural music; music concrete; rhythmic procedures; minimalism; aleatoric music; serial extensions

Once the test is graded, you will be advised as to where you should start in the theory sequence. You must then talk to your advisor to get a petition completed to allow the credits to count at UT.

Proficiency Tests

If you feel that you know the material in any of the theory course, you may opt to take a proficiency test (like a final exam) for each class. To do this:

  1. Go to the area coordinator and tell them you want to take a proficiency test for a particular course.
  2. Go to the registrar's office to fill out the form and pay the fee for the proficiency exam.
  3. Schedule a time to take the test (usually 1.5 to 2 hours).
  4. Study and take the test.
  5. The teacher will submit the grade for the test. The grade you get on the test becomes the grade for the class. You will receive hours of credit just like you took the class.
Note: There is no transfer or proficiency test for courses higher than MUTH 220 and 240.


  • Roig-Francoli, Miguel A. Harmony in Context, 2nd ed. McGraw-Hill.
  • Roig-Francoli, Miguel A. Workbook for Harmony in Context, 2nd ed. McGraw- Hill
  • Burkhart, Charles. Anthology for Musical Analysis.
  • Roig-Francoli, Miguel A. Understanding Post-Tonal Music. Boston: McGraw-Hill, 2007.

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