Music Theory, History, and Composition Division
|NEWS: Fall 2022 Aural Proficiency Results
(updated Decemeber 17, 2022)
Preparing to Become a Music Major
In addition to being proficient on your instrument, music majors at Kansas State University (and elsewhere) must demonstrate a knowledge of music theory. Students who have a basic knowledge of the fundamentals of music theory when they enter an undergraduate music program are much more likely to succeed in all fields of musical study.
Therefore, it is highly suggested that students planning to become collegiate music majors gain the essential awareness and understanding of the following elements prior to entering a collegiate music program.
Students entering Kansas State University as music majors or minors will take the music theory placement exam. This exam will assess the student's knowledge of the following concepts:
- Reading pitch in both treble and bass clefs
- Rhythmic values, rhythmic notation in simple, compound, and mixed meters
- Scales (major and three forms of minor)
- Key signatures (major and minor)
- Triad and seventh chord quality, inversion symbols
- Figured bass symbols and Roman numeral analysis
- Note-to-note counterpoint (first through fifth species counterpoint)
Those who exhibit adequate knowledge in the placement exam will be placed in Music Theory II and Aural Skills I. Students deficient in this knowledge will be placed in Music Theory I. Students extremely deficient in this knowledge will be required to take Music Fundamentals.
Private piano study is strongly recommended for anyone contemplating a career in any musical endeavor. Keyboard skills are essential for every musician and facilitate musical understanding and competency. (As an example, the principal conductors of thirteen of the top twenty orchestras in the U.S. are or have been concert pianists.)
Credit for Advanced Placement (A.P.) Music Theory
Credit for taking the Advanced Placement (A.P.) Music Theory test is given as follows:
Score of 5 = A in MUS 230 (Music Theory 2) and A in Mus 231(Aural Skills 1)
Score of 4 = A in MUS 210 (Music Theory 1)
Score of 3 = Credit in MUS 210 (Music Theory 1)
Music Theory Preparation
Musictheory.net is a free website recommended for preparation of collegiate music study.
The Music Theory sequence at Kansas State University (Music Theory I-IV) utilizes the Musicians Guide to Theory & Analysis, 4th ed. (as of Fall 2021) by Jane Piper Clendinning and Elizabeth West Marvin, published by from W.W. Norton as the text for all four courses, as well as the accompanying workbook and anthology.
The following programmed theory books may also be used for preparation of collegiate music study. These are listed in order of recommendation. As a reference point, these prices were recently found on barnesandnoble.com.
- Manoff, Tom. The Music Kit. 4th edition. New York: W.W. Norton, 2000. Includes CD and computer software (with interactive exercises that return personal feedback and scores). ($67.75) The software is Macintosh and Windows compatible.
- Clough, John and Joyce Conley. Scales, Intervals, Keys, Triads, Rhythm, and Meter. 3rd edition. New York: W.W. Norton, 1999. Includes CD. ($49.75)
- Steinke, Greg and Paul Harder. Basic Materials in Music Theory: A Programmed Course. 10th edition. New Jersey: Prentice Hall Professional Technical Reference, 2002. ($72.00)
- Feldstein, Sandy. Practical Theory Complete: A Self-Instruction Music Theory Course. New York: Alfred Publishing Co. Inc., 1997. ($9.95, which is quite inexpensive!)
- Surmani, Andrew, Morton Manus, and Karen Farnum Surmani. Alfred's Essentials of Music Theory: Complete. New York: Alfred Publishing Co. Inc., 2000. ($12.50)
- Surmani, Andrew, Morton Manus, and Karen Farnum Surmani. Alfred's Essentials of Music Theory, Teacher's Answer Key Book. New York: Alfred Publishing Co., Inc., 2000. ($18.50)
Remember that when you register for Theory II that you must also register for Aural Skills I. Likewise, when you register for Theory III you must also register for Aural Skills II. When you register for Theory IV that you must also register for Aural Skills III. This policy applies to everyone taking Theory II through IV, regardless of your major.