AP Music Theory

Credit Hours: 1.0

Course Length: 2 Semesters

Course Description

This course is designed to give the student an understanding of music theory, sight reading, and aural skills that is equivalent to that of a first-year college music student. It is also designed with the explicit purpose of preparing the student for the AP® Exam in Music Theory. The course content and presentation will adhere to the guidelines set forth by the College Board in the Music Theory Course Description.

The course will cover: the fundamentals of traditional melodic and harmonic composition through the early twentieth century; multiple techniques for melodic, harmonic, and formal analysis; an introduction to two- and four-voice counterpoint; an introduction to jazz, blues, and non-Western techniques; and the basics of orchestration.

In addition, students will be trained to sight-read melodies in major and minor keys, with limited chromatic alteration. They will also perform listening exercises for the purposes of memorizing and notating specific intervals, scales, chords, rhythms, melodies, and progressions.

Course Prerequisites

Required: Proficiency in playing major and minor scales, reading basic tonal melodies, and using proper technique on one or more musical instruments (vocal, orchestral, band). Strongly Recommended: At least one semester of practice writing traditional music notation with proper technique. At least one semester of keyboard instruction, including scales and triad formation.

Required Textbook(s) and/or Materials

Hardware used: internal/external speakers or headphones; internal/external microphone

Software used: Teoria.com web-based ear training exercises, Noteflight.com web-based music notation environment

Specific URLs accessed: multiple addresses at domains “noteflight.com,” “macgamut.com,” and “screencast-o-matic.com”

Major Concepts

This course will give students introduction, practice, and mastery of the following topics in Music Theory:

  1. The fundamentals of tone, including pitch, intervals, pitch organization (scales and keys), and pitch combination (chords).
  2. Advanced chord vocabulary, including dominant, nondominant and leading-tone seventh chords.
  3. The fundamentals of rhythm, including notation, duration, metric organization, and rhythmic patterns.
  4. Comprehension and fluency in common-practice harmony, including chord quality and positioning, voice leading (up to four parts), and counterpoint.
  5. Advanced harmonic understanding, including common harmonic progressions, common bass line movement, harmonic rhythm, and modulation techniques.
  6. Fluency in the basic symbolic and analytical language of music, including figured bass realization and Roman numeral analysis.
  7. The basic components of musical form, including motives and phrases, and their combinations into larger musical structures.
  8. An understanding of the historical developments in music theory, from the modes of the medieval era through the popular, folk, and jazz music of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries.
  9. An introduction to twentieth-century scales, chordal structures, and compositional procedures, through a basic analysis of the components and their use in modern music.
  10. The many connections between music and other disciplines in the humanities (visual art, literature, etc.).

Written course materials are supplemented with a rigorous course of sight singing and ear training exercises.