Students are required to take a number of theory courses for the BACS Music Major program. Theory courses are also open to other CBU students. All theory students must meet the following requirements.

Students must have a minimum level of competency with music literacy, approximate to the level expected to pass a Royal Conservatory of Music Grade II Rudiments exam. This includes the ability read and write basic musical notation on bass and treble clef as well as knowing:

  • all note names,
  • key signatures,
  • time signatures,
  • all rhythmic durations (quarter notes, eighth notes, etc.),
  • basic triads, and
  • various expression symbols (e.g., ff or dim.).

During the first week of music theory courses, the instructor will administer a short assessment to ensure that students acceptably know the basic rudiments.

For students wishing to take any of these courses, you may self assess through this online practice test.

For remediation, students may chose to self-study by working through any one of the following “rudiments” textbooks/workbooks. They may be purchased or ordered through Long and McQuade.

Clough, John, et al. 1999. Scales, Intervals, Keys, Triads, Rhythm, and Meter: A Programmed Course in Elementary Music Theory, with an Introduction to Partwriting. New York: Norton.

Sarnecki, Mark. 2010. The Complete Elementary Rudiments of Music. 2nd ed. Frederick Harris Music. The earlier edition is fine.

Wharram, Barbara. 2005 [1969]. Elementary Rudiments of Music. Frederick Harris Music. Earlier editions are fine.

There are also a number of online courses, both free and for-a-fee. Although we don’t endorse any particular course, we offer the following suggestions for the sake of convenience. If you have taken an online course that you recommend, please let us know! (free illustrated lessons and exercises; paid mobile app)

Teoría (free animated lessons with sound files and exercises)

Music Theory for Musicians and Normal People (free, beautifully illustrated fact sheets)

Fundamentals of Music Theory, University of Edinburgh (free but not always available)

E-Theory Fundamentals, Eastman School of Music (tuition-based course)

Music Theory 101, Berklee College of Music (tuition-based course); this course is sometimes available for free from edX.

This is where you'll Happen.  Apply Now