Studio Links
Browse these links for information on WCU's music studios:
Jazz Piano
Jazz Guitar
Bass Guitar

WCU Student Ensembles
Instrumental and vocal ensembles



What’s Going On?
Calendar of Music Events

College of Fine and Performing Arts Calendar


253 Coulter Building
239 Memorial Drive
Cullowhee, NC 28723
828.227.7242 tel
828.227.7162 fax


Music Diagnostic Examinations

Graduate Diagnostic Exams

All entering graduate students in Music will be evaluated in music theory and music history.  In addition, students’ writing skills will be considered.   These examinations will be administered at the beginning of each semester.  A panel of School of Music graduate faculty will review your diagnostic exams and make recommendations for remediation.  The Graduate School will not grant a diploma unless the remediation is completed and documented your School of Music file.


The School of Music does not currently offer a generic remediation course in music history or music theory for graduate students.   Instead, each graduate student's remediation needs are considered individually.  You may be required to take part or all of one or more undergraduate music and/or music theory courses, and score an 80% or better on the final exam.  The final exam serves as the required documentation for the graduate student’s file.  In rare cases, remediation may be handled through guided individual study, but written documentation is required in all cases.

Writing skills are important for all graduate students.  A written essay is included with the music history diagnostic exam and is used to determine if an entering graduate student has the writing skills necessary to complete theprogram.  The faculty panel who assesses music history and music theory also use a common writing rubric to grade the student’s writing.  Should the faculty panel determine that there is a writing deficiency, the student will also be required to complete one of the following: 

  • ENGL 303 Introduction to Professional Writing and Editing
  • ENGL 501 Writing for Careers
  • An individualized writing remediation plan

Preparation for the Graduate Diagnostic Exams

You may significantly improve your chances of passing the diagnostic exams through careful preparation.  The following guidelines are intended to help you prepare.

Music Theory Diagnostic Exam:

  1. Fundamentals:  scales, keys, intervals, triads, 7th chords, inversions, Roman Numerals, figured bass, meter
  2. Non-chord tones, cadences, periods, introduction to chromaticism, secondary dominants, modulation
  3. Chromaticism:  mode mixture, Neapolitan, Augmented 6th chords, enharmonic relationships
  4. Form:  binary & ternary, rondo, variations, sonata form, imitative counterpoint
  5. 20th century  music and techniques:  scales, harmony, atonal theory, twelve-tone theory

 Recommended references:

Music History Diagnostic Exam (includes listening, objective questions, and an essay based upon listening examples).  Review topics should include (but not be limited to):

  • Middle Ages:  Gregorian chant, the beginnings of polyphony, motets, secular music and the fixed forms, Ars Nova
  • Renaissance:  English guise, Reformation music, Palestrina style, mass types, madrigals
  • Baroque:  Basso continuo, Baroque opera, oratorio, cantatas
  • Classical Period:  Sturm und Drang, Operatic reforms, Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven
  • Romantic Period:  All forms of program music, Lieder, nationalism, exoticism, performance practice, sacred music, New German School
  • Twentieth Century:  "isms" (expressionism, neoclassicism, etc.) Schoenberg and serialism, electronic music

In addition, the student should be prepared to discuss briefly contributions of significant composers using specific works to support your statements.

An in-depth essay, based on a listening example, will be used to determine scope of knowledge and writing style. 

Recommended references:

  • Mark Evan Bonds:  A History of Music in Western Culture*
  • Donald Jay Grout:  A History of Western Music
  • David Poultney:  Studying Music History
  • Wold and Cykler:  An Outline History of Music

*Texts currently used for WCU Music undergraduate


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