How about a laugh?

How about some humor… Here are some things I’ve found – I don’t claim them as original.



Doctoral Music Exam – you have 1 hour. 

  1. Explain the difference between sforza, sforzando, 

sforzata, and La Forza Del Destino. Be specific. 


  2. What is the diameter of the hole in the water key on 

your instrument? 

      If your instrument does not have a water key, what is 

the diameter of the third moon of Jupiter? 


  3. List Johann Sebastian Bach’s children (include middle 

names) and give: 

        a. Date of birth 

        b. Date of death (if deceased) 

        c. Last known address 

        d. Social Security number 


  4. Name the composers who wrote a First Symphony. 


  5. Give the opening theme of each symphony in #4 (above). 


  6. What is the relationship and musical significance of the 

10th and 11th bars of the aria “Soldaten, Soldaten” to the aria’s 

final bars (1048-1063) in the Alban Berg opera “Wozzeck”? 


  7. Who conducted “Tannhauser” at the 1847 Bayreuth 

Festival? Was he right or left-handed? 


  8. Trace the development of the “Family Unity” theme in Richard 

Strauss’ “Sinfonia Domestica”. In which key(s) is it presented? 


9. Describe in detail the formula for the varnish on violins 

made by Stradivari during the first third of his career. 

Explain how this varnish differs from varnish used on his violas. What modern 

substances could be effectively substituted in duplicating this formula today? 


  10. What is the optimum acidity/alkalinity (expressed in 

pH) for soil in which cane for bassoon reeds are to be grown? For bass 

clarinet reeds? 


11. Name the bones and muscles involved in forming a brass player’s 



  12. What is the advantage of using xylophone mallet heads 

made of: 

        a. Ebony 

        b. Teak 

        c. Philippine Mahogany 

       d. Compressed moose chips 


  13. Argue both sides of the following statement: “The most important 

element in music is rhythm.” 

     * Critique both arguments and decide which is 

correct, or more nearly correct. 

     * Compose a three-movement symphonic metamorphosis (not 

to exceed 1 hour in length) on a theme by Ned Rorem to support 

your decision. 


  14. Defend Mozart’s use of the glass harmonica and explain 

why this instrument has lapsed into disfavor, especially among 

punk rock groups. 


  15. Give the “Slap-Back” time in seconds (to three decimal 

places) of each hall used by all major American and European 

orchestras. Defend your selection of each orchestra as a major orchestra, 

and name each orchestra’s past and present conductors. 


16. In which of his symphonies did Franz Joseph Haydn use: 

        a. Clarinets 

        b. Horns 

        c. Tympani 

        d. Bassoons 


  17. Write the first 25 bars of Stravinsky’s “Circus Polka” 

(from memory), and analyze. 


  18. What is the Koechel number of Mozart’s 4th Horn Concerto? 


  19. Develop a simple set of rules that explain the harmonic 

and melodic progressions, voice leadings, and rhythmic notation 

of the music of Bartok. 


  20. Give the ratio between the bore and overall length of a Couesnon 

Contra-Bass trombone, Model G-571a, when the slide is 

in flat 4th position. If the position is used in conjunction with 

both thumb valves (F and D) to play the 7th note of the overtone 

series, what note will be sounded? Will it be sharp, flat, or in 

tune? If sharp or flat, by how many hundredths of a semitone? 


  21. Who invented the Ocarina? In what year? Why? 


  22. Explain the musical inconsistencies as to key, notation, 

accidentals, etc, found in the original score of Robert Schumann’s 

Symphony #3. 


  23. Write a seven-voice motet in the style of Orlando di 

Lassus in invertible counterpoint. Extra credit if the motet 

can also be performed backwards. 


  24. Using materials commonly found in the kitchen, 

construct a 15 rank, 3-manual positiv organ (with pedals) and use it to 

perform two pieces by Oliver Messiaen. 


  25. Reconstruct the missing movements of Schubert’s 

Unfinished Symphony. 


  26. Give the Russian, German, and Serbo-Croatian 

equivalents of the following Italian terms: Tuffato, Con Amore, Cadenza, 


Garbonzo, Mafioso, and Ferrari. 


  27. Explain why Benny Goodman could use parallel octaves, 

but you can’t.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.