‘I’m thinking of studying for a theory diploma: which one should I take?’

The answer is another question: you’ll need to prepare for the exam; which one are you already equipped to start your preparations? Within this second question lie two very important points:

  • In order to succeed at any theory diploma exam you must have already done a lot of theoretical study
  • You will need to undertake extensive further study targeted at the specific requirements of a particular diploma.

The knowledge and skills required to pass AMusTCL are the very bedrock on which musicians can then learn and further refine knowledge and skills specified in the syllabuses for LMusTCL, LTCL and FTCL.

There are two elements in AMusTCL: skills of writing music (traditionally called harmony, counterpoint, melody writing and orchestration) and knowledge of repertoire (studied through
analysis and examined by your ability to construct a critique). These in turn require a thorough, accurate and comprehensive knowledge of musical rudiments:

  • Clefs, keys, intervals and chords
  • Pulse and rhythm
  • Types and capabilities of voices and instruments
  • Conventions of musical notation

Potential candidates also need to know and understand the various historical styles of music from the end of the Renaissance to the present time (baroque, classical, romantic and modern periods) and the forms used (binary, ternary, rondo, sonata, etc). Suitable ways of reaching the stage described above include studying theory of music up to Grade 8 of one of the leading international exam boards and then passing the exam, studying and passing music in the International Baccalaureate, studying and passing music for A level or Scottish Advanced Higher Level. Students who have completed a course such as is described above will have done far more than merely learn about music. They will have come face to face with music in a variety of styles — ie they will have got to know this music well, learning how it was created and put together, what it expresses and how it does this.

For more theory diploma support and advice, click here.


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