• AP® Music Theory 2017-18 Syllabus

    General Overview of AP® Music Theory Course

    Students in AP® Music Theory will be expected to accomplish a high level of basic musicianship skills. The AP® Music Theory curriculum is designed to prepare each student to take the AP® Music Theory Exam, given in the spring. Students will gain knowledge of basic part writing and aural skills, paralleling what would be learned in a collegiate level course. The course includes a wide range of music literature to be studied, with a focus on standard Western tonal repertoire and 18th century chorale style analysis and harmonization.


    Course Objectives

    The AP® Music Theory course is designed to teach students musical skills through an understanding and appreciation of music composition and theory. It is designed for students for career study, as well as enrichment. At the end of the course, students are prepared to take the AP® Music Theory Exam, which will advance them in their college music choices both in terms of classes and knowledge.


    Primary Texts

    Berkowitz, Gabriel, and Fontrier, Leo, and Kraft, Sol. 1997. A New Approach to Sight Singing. W W Norton & Co Inc. 4th Edition.

    Burkhart, Charles, and Rothstein, William. 2008. Anthology for Musical Analysis. Boston. Schirmer Cengage Learning.

    Scoggins, Nancy. 2010. Barron’s AP Music Theory. USA. Barron’s Educational Series.Inc Prentice Hall. 2nd Edition.

    Text for Musical Analysis:

    Burkholder, J. Peter, and Grout, Donald, and Palisca, Claude. 2006. A History of Western Music. WW Norton & Co. 7th Edition.


    Excerpts from the following chapters will be used as additional score study to supplement the scores found in the Barron’s AP Music Theory review book:

    Chapter 10 Sacred Music in the Era of the Reformation

    Chapter 15 Music for Chamber and Church in the Early Seventeenth Century

    Chapter 19 German Composers of the Late Baroque

    Chapter 21 Instrument Music: Sonata, Symphony, and Concerto at Midcentury

    Chapter 22 Classic Music in the Late Eighteenth Century

    Chapter 24 The Romantic Generation: Song and Piano Music

    Chapter 25 Romanticism in Classic Forms: Orchestra, Chamber, and Choral Music

    Chapter 27 Opera and Music Theater in the Later Nineteenth Century

    Chapter 30 The Early Twentieth Century

    Chapter 31 Modernism and the Classical Tradition

    Chapter 32 Between World Wars: Jazz and Popular Music

    Chapter 34 Postwar Crosscurrents

    Chapter 34 The End of the Millennium

    Web Resources

    www.teoria.com -ear training in theory resources; students will log in and practice for 1 hour per week as part of their homework

    www.gmajormusictheory.org theory information, resources and games

    www.musictheory.net music theory practice drills

    www.cpdl.org/ Choral public domain library (free scores for analysis)

    www.imslp.org/ Music score library (free scores for analysis)

    Course Content

    Review of music fundamentals, including clefs, scales (major, minor, modal, pentatonic and whole tone), key signatures, circle of fifths, intervals, triads and inversions.

    1. Daily ear training, including rhythmic, melodic, and harmonic dictation. Solfege pitches will be used.
    2. The study of modes.
    3. The realization of a figured bass through written assignments and classroom activities
    4. The study of two-part counterpoint
    5. The study of four part harmony
    6. The study of seventh chords
    7. The study of secondary-dominant functions
    8. The study of musical form (including simple binary, rounded binary, ternary, theme and variation and strophic)
    9. Analysis of motivic treatment
    10. The study of non-harmonic tones
    11. The study of modulations
    12. The study of common compositional techniques 14. The study of phrase structure


    Expanded Course Objectives

    The following is a summary of the material to be covered and skills to be mastered in the AP® Music Theory course in preparation for the AP® Music Theory Examination.

    1. Musical Terminology


    1. Notational Skills
    2. Notate and identify pitch in four clefs: treble, bass, alto, and tenor.
    3. Notate, hear, and identify simple and compound meters.
    4. Notate and identify all major and minor key signatures.
    5. Notate, hear, and identify the following scales: chromatic, major, and the three forms of the minor.
    6. Name and recognize scale degree terms, e.g., tonic, supertonic, etc.
    7. Notate, hear, and transpose the following modes: Dorian, Phrygian, Lydian, and
    8. Mixolydian (authentic forms only).
    9. Notate, hear, and identify whole tone and pentatonic scales.
    10. Notate, hear, and identify all perfect, major, minor, diminished, and augmented intervals inclusive of an octave.
    11.  Notate, hear, and identify triads and seventh chords including inversions.
    12.  Define and identify common tempo and expression markings.

    III. Basic Compositional Skills:

    1. Compose a bass line for a given melody to create simple two-part counterpoint in

    seventeenth- and/or eighteenth-century style; analyze the implied harmonies.

    1. Realize a figured bass according to the rules of eighteenth-century chorale style, major or minor key, using any or all of the following devices: diatonic triads and seventh chords, inversions, non-harmonic tones, and secondary-dominant and dominant seventh chords.
    2. Realize a four-part chorale-style progression from Roman and Arabic numerals.
    3. Score Analysis (with or without aural stimulus):
    4. Identify authentic, plagal, half, Phrygian half, and deceptive cadences in major and minor keys.
    5. Identify in score the following non-harmonic tones: passing tone (accented and unaccented), neighboring tone, anticipation, suspension, retardation, appoggiatura, escape tone, changing tone (cambiata), and pedal tone.
    6. Small-scale and large-scale harmonic procedures, including:
    • identification of cadence types
    • Roman-numeral and figured-bass analysis, including nonharmonic tones, seventh chords, and secondary-dominant chords
    • Identification of key centers and key relationships; recognition of modulation to closely related keys
    1. Melodic organization and developmental procedures:
    • scale types; modes
    • Melodic patterning
    • Motivic development and relationships (e.g., inversion, retrograde, sequence, imitation)
    1. Rhythmic/metric organization:
    • Meter type (e.g., duple, triple, quadruple) and beat type (e.g., simple, compound)
    • rhythmic devices and procedures (e.g., augmentation, diminution, hemiola)
    1. Texture:
    • types (e.g., monophony, homophony, polyphony)
    • devices (e.g., textural inversion, imitation)
    1. Aural Skills:
    2. Detecting pitch and rhythm errors in written music from given aural excerpts.
    3. Notate a melody from dictation, 4 to 8 bars, major or minor mode, mostly diatonic pitches, simple or compound time, treble or bass clef, 3 to 4 listenings.
    4. Notate melodies from dictation, 4 to 8 bars, major or minor mode, chromatic alteration from harmonic/melodic scales, simple or compound time, treble or bass clef, 3 to 4 listenings.
    5. Sight-sing melodies, 4 to 8 bars long, major or minor key, duple or triple meter, simple or compound time, treble or bass clef, using solfeggio, pitch names, numbers, or any comfortable vocal syllable(s).
    6. Hear the following nonharmonic tones: passing tone (accented and unaccented), neighboring tone, anticipation, suspension, retardation, appoggiatura, escape tone, changing tone (cambiata), and pedal tone.
    7. Notate the soprano and bass pitches and Roman and Arabic numeral analysis of harmonic dictations in eighteenth-century chorale style. Features may include seventh chords, secondary dominants, major or minor key, 3 to 4 listenings.
    8. Identify processes and materials in the context of music literature representing a broad spectrum of genres, media, and styles:
    • Melodic organization (e.g., scale-degree function of specified tones, scale types, mode, melodic patterning, sequences, motivic development)
    • Harmonic organization (e.g., chord function, inversion,quality)
    • Tonal organization (e.g., cadence types, key relationships)
    • Meter and rhythmic patterns
    • Instrumentation (i.e., identification of timbre)
    • Texture (e.g., number and position of voices, amount of independence, presence of imitation, density)
    • Formal procedures (e.g., phrase structure; distinctions among literal repetition, varied repetition, and contrast; small forms)

    Student Evaluation:

    Written Assessments = 25%

    Aural Assessments = 25%

    Homework = 10%

    May include written and also 1 hour of online practice at www.teoria.com or on SmartMusic.

    Classwork/Participation = 25%

    Quarterly Project = 15%

    Quarterly Project Descriptions:


    Quarter One:

    Objective: Compose an original piece of music with a summary or description of your work for your instrument or voice.

    - Describe the form of your piece: AB ABA ABACA

    - 24 measures

    - Choose a time signature

    - Clef: use your instrument’s clef

    - Any Key Signature (Major or Minor)

    - Rhythm- Must have some Whole, Quarter, Eighth, Sixteenth notes and rests in any combination and interesting pattern.

    - Melody – should be conjunct (step wise for the most part) avoid large leaps of a 5+

    - Dynamics – use P, MP, MF, F, FF as you see appropriate

    - Articulation – specify accents, style, and slur markings

    Quarter Two:

    Objective:  Compose an original SATB Chorale of 16 measures using correct harmonic progression and voice leading guidelines in the style of J.S. Bach.

    - 16 measures

    - Choose a time signature

    - Treble and Bass clef for the singers

    - Any MAJOR Key Signature


    Quarter Three:

    Objective: Choose a poem or short story to set music to. Write the piece for solo instrument plus piano. Include a description as to why you chose the poem or short story, and how you think the music reflects the text.

    - At least 30 measures

    - Choose a time signature

    - Choose a key signature – include AT LEAST ONE MODULATION

    - Use the grand staff for piano part and the solo instrument’s clef

    Quarter Four:

    Objective: Arrange a piece originally written for solo instrument or singer for a quartet. You may choose the instrumentation.

    - Arrangement music reflect the original song’s structure in terms of number of measures, time signatures, and key signatures.

    - Use correct voice leading between parts (conjunct motion with some disjunct) so that it is accessible for high school musicians to sing or play.