AP Music Theory Course Outline

The major component of a college curriculum in music is a course introducing the first-year student to music theory, a subject that consists musical materials and procedures of the basic Practice period. Such course may have a different variety of titles like Basic Musicianship, Elementary Theory, Harmony and Dictation, Structure of Music etc. It may focus on some aspect of music like harmony; more often, it integrates the aspects of melody, harmony, texture, rhythm, form, musical analysis, elementary composition and to some extent on history and style. Musicianship skills like dictation as well as other listening skills, sight-singing, and keyboard harmony are a vital part of the theory course and they may be taught as separate classes.

The student's ability to read and write musical notation is the basic requirement for such course. It is assumed that the student has acquired or is acquiring atleast basic performance skills in voice or on instrument.

The main goal of an AP Music Theory course is to nurture student's ability to recognize, understand and to describe the basic materials and processes of music that are heard or presented in the score. The fulfillment of the following goals may best be approached by firstly addressing basic aural, analytical, and compositional skills through listening and written exercises. Based on this foundation, the course should progress to include more core and creative tasks like the harmonization of a melody by selecting appropriate chords, composing a musical bass line to give two-voice counterpoint or the realisation of figured-bass notation.

The topics quoted below will be covered in the following course:

Musical Terminology

  • Terms for intervals, triads, seventh chords, scales, and modes
  • Terms pertaining to rhythm and meter, melodic construction and variation, harmonic function, cadences and phrase structure, texture, contrapuntal devices, small forms, and musical performance

Notational Skills

  • Rhythms and meters
  • Clefs and pitches
  • Key signatures, scales, and modes
  • Intervals and chords
  • Melodic transposition

Basic Compositional Skills

  • Four-voice realization of figured-bass symbols and Roman numerals
  • Composition of a bass line (with chord symbols) for a given melody

Musical Analysis (from a printed score or with aural stimulus)

  • Small-scale and large-scale harmonic procedures
  • Melodic organization and developmental procedures
  • Rhythmic/metric organization
  • Texture
  • Formal devices and/or procedures

Aural Skills

  • Sight-singing (major and minor modes, treble and bass clefs, diatonic and chromatic melodies)
  • Melodic dictation (major and minor modes, treble and bass clefs, diatonic and chromatic melodies)
  • Harmonic dictation (notation of soprano and bass lines and harmonic analysis in a four-voice texture)
  • Identification of isolated pitch and rhythmic patterns.
  • Detection of errors in pitch and rhythm in one-and two-voice examples.
  • Processes and materials identification in the context of music literature representing a broad spectrum of genres, media, and styles.