Fundamentals

The School of Music recommends that all incoming students assess their knowledge of fundamentals with a computer-based fundamentals test; please visit the computer-based training page to learn how to purchase and install the software package that is used for fundamentals training throughout the music theory core curriculum.

The fundamentals test measures your abilities in the following areas; students entering the School of Music are expected to show a high skill level in these areas before enrolling in the music theory core curriculum. Students wishing to develop or improve their knowledge of fundamentals may work with Chapters 1–7 of the textbook used in the theory core, The Musician’s Guide to Theory and Analysis; see Required materials for purchase information.

Notation basics

  • Note names: know your ABCDEFG’s.
  • Clefs: name notes in the treble and bass clefs, and place notes in the treble and bass clefs when given a note name.
  • Accidentals: write and identify flat, sharp, natural, double flat, and double sharp accidentals.

Rhythm and meter

  • Notated rhythm: write and recognize note and rest values, from dotted whole note to sixteenth note.
  • Pulse tapping: hear the beat and tap along with it.
  • Rhythm comparison: discern whether two heard rhythm patterns are the same or different.
  • Rhythm elements: hear a short rhythm (equal to one beat) and identify the notation for that rhythm.
  • Meter identification: understand beat grouping (duple/triple/quadruple) and beat division (simple/compound).
  • Meter organization: write and beam notes/rests, and write barlines, using a given meter.

Pitch organization

  • Key signatures: write and recognize key signatures for all keys up to seven flats/sharps.
  • Notated scales: write and recognize major and minor scales in all keys up to seven flats/sharps.
  • Notated intervals: write and recognize any given interval (e.g., minor third), and write the inversion of any given interval (e.g., minor third inverts to major sixth).
  • Notated triads: write and recognize major, minor, diminished, and augmented triads in root position.
  • Interval recognition: aurally distinguish a half step from a whole step.
  • Melodic comparison: aurally discern whether two short melodies are the same or different.
  • Chord comparison: aurally discern whether two triads are the same or different.
  • Chord recognition: identify heard major and minor triads.