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On Sunday I am going to take a entry level exam in music theory. They didn't give me any sample exam or references to where can I learn this stuff. All I have is a list of what will be in the exam (Translated from Hebrew):

Written Theory exam:

  1. Scales - building and identifying the major and minor (natural,harmonic,melodic) scales.
  2. Modes - building and identifying the different modes: Dorian, Phrygian, Lydian, Mixolydian, Locrian
  3. Intervals - building and identifying intervals on every note.
  4. Triads and their inversions - building and identifying Triads and their inversions (Major, Minor, Augmented, Diminished)
  5. Seventh chords and their inversions - building and identifying the following seventh chords and their inversions:Major seventh, Minor seventh, Dominant seventh, Diminished seventh, Half-diminished seventh, Minor major seventh, Augmented major seventh
  6. Transposition
  7. Continuing a given melody
  8. Knowledge rhythmic values
  9. To harmonize a given soprano and bass using standard degrees and chords
  10. To analyze a given musical piece excerpt (for example, a Bach chorale)

Sections 1-5 and 8 I know how to learn to, 6 I think I do, but I have no clue how to learn for sections 7,9 and 10. Where can I learn this things?

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Just curious: what is the typical age or prior background of candidates? –  ogerard Apr 30 '11 at 20:01
I just returned form the exam. typical age: 19-23 –  iddober May 1 '11 at 9:54

2 Answers 2

up vote 4 down vote accepted

7, 9, and 10 are simply applications of all the other skills.

7. To continue a given melody, notice what mode the melody is based in and what general sorts of intervals and rhythmic values it's been using thus far (and what chords it has been implying). Then write something that fits in that general style. (Your ear will be better at this than your brain!)

9. To harmonize a given soprano and bass, use your knowledge of triads and seventh chords to determine a reasonable chord pattern that fits the soprano and bass ("reasonable" meaning "implies functional harmony"). Then fill in the missing notes (most likely, with some attention to voice leading).

10. To analyze a given musical piece, use your knowledge of triads and seventh chords to label each chord in the piece. I doubt an entry-level exam would expect any more than that.

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Yes. What he said. –  Rein Henrichs Apr 30 '11 at 7:41
You can train for 7. (=1. here) with your own instrument first or by singing. If you have listened to a lot of music in different styles you have intuitively acquired a certain sense of their styles and device. a) Play a record of music featuring your instrument, stop it somewhere and try to go on by yourself for a few bars. Try to write down what you did. b) recall a musical theme you like, try to do a simple variation or imitation of it that could be play after it. –  ogerard Apr 30 '11 at 19:38
@ogerard. I think you forgot to put a link in the word "here":) –  iddober May 1 '11 at 9:53
@idober: you are right, I should have written (=1. in this answer). –  ogerard May 1 '11 at 9:57

You should really consider obtaining the services of an experiences theory teacher. This things take a long while to master.

7 - 10 seems like your general theory questions you would need to know to gain access to a college music program.

7) Also sometimes called the completion of a melody.

You are a given a two bar excerpt and asked to write a melody in response to what they give. Usually depending on the standard either 8 or 16 bars. You may also be asked to modulate either to the dominant or the relative key. You also have to give meaningful articulation for whatever instrument you have to write the melody.

You need to master the following at the very least know how to do.

  1. Know your chord progressions

  2. Know your cadences and where your cadence points may be.

  3. Know how to modulate successfully so that the modulation is clear.

  4. Be sure of how the rhythmical sequence works.

9 seems like a general four voice harmony exercise. Here you are given either the soprano or bass voice and are asked to harmonise the given voice for four voices.

You first go about discerning the key. Then you decide what chords you are in (Be wary of non chordal notes) You then write a melody in the opposing outside voice. When you have done this you complete the middle voices.


  1. You may NOT have consecutive octaves or fifths know what this means and how to avoid them.

  2. A chords notes cannot be more than an octave between notes in the difference voices the only exception being the notes of the bass and tenor voice.

  3. You need to be able to use the passing 6/4 progressions and the 6/4 cadence progressions

  4. You need to know the proper doubling of the notes.

  5. The melody you write should have a nice line and it always good to aim to get an octave between the lowest note in the melody and the highest.

Usually even if all the notes are correct if you melody line is boring or stagnant you will not get a good mark. This is not just an exercise in testing your knowledge they want you to make good music.

10 seems like a genera analysis type of question.

Here you general music knowledge is tested. You may be asked a variety of questions that may include but not be limited to.

Questions of eras. Analysis of the score. Chords and inversions. Intervals. Music terms. Knowledge about transposing instruments and concert pitch. Scales and Modes.

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