Before you may enroll in graduate music theory courses, you first must demonstrate proficiency in harmony, form, counterpoint, sight-singing, and aural training, as determined by the CIM diagnostic test. This test is given to all auditioning students. Those who do not show proficiency must take and pass the MUTH400A / MUTH400B course (see below) before undertaking graduate-level study in music theory.

What will be on the diagnostic test?

Harmony, Form, and Counterpoint:

  • Realize a figured bass which contains diatonic and chromatic harmony, demonstrating excellent voice leading
  • Analyze chords and non-chord tones in a chorale texture
  • Analyze an 18th- or 19th-century work for its overall form as well as phrase structure and general compositional devices
  • Analyze an 18th-century work for its contrapuntal aspects

Sight-Singing and Aural Training:

  • Sing, at sight, melodies in treble, bass, alto, and tenor clefs which will include chromaticism and modulation
  • Use solmization such as fixed do, moveable do, numbers, etc.
  • Aural identification of intervals and various chord types
  • Harmonic dictation of chorale-texture examples which will contain diatonic and chromatic harmony

What to Expect from MUTH 400A/B

MUTH 400A

MUTH 400A General Theory: Review of Musical Structure: Provides review in fundamentals of form, counterpoint, and four-part harmony. Course designed for graduate students; credit is not applicable toward degree requirements. Must be satisfactorily completed within the first two semesters of study at CIM.

Prerequisite: assignment by placement testing.

MUTH 400B

MUTH 400B General Theory: Sightsinging-Eartraining Review: Provides review in fundamentals of sightsinging in four clefs, and melodic and harmonic dictation including chromatic harmony and modulation. Course designed for graduate students; credit is not applicable toward degree requirements. Must be satisfactorily completed within the first two semesters of study at CIM.

Prerequisite:assignment by placement testing.

Summer Preparation for Theory Placement

While there are many ways in which you might prepare, CIM recommends some of the newer online theory programs developed within the past couple of years.

Additional Resources
  • Tonal Harmony by Kostka, Stefan, and Dorothy Payne (McGraw-Hill): This is the harmony textbook which a number of the CIM theory faculty use. Although it is in 6th edition, the content changes very little from edition to edition. While the current edition costs almost $100 for the textbook, an earlier edition (used) can be purchased online for under $10. In this book, there is a section on fundamentals.
  • Musictheory.net: Outstanding online source for tutorials and exercises.
  • Online sight singing materials