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    Syllabus for AP Music Theory

    Westmoore High School

    Anne Dawson, Instructor



    AP Music Theory is a college level class that will cover the material found in a college freshman theory course.  Students will have the opportunity to take the AP Music Theory exam in early May.  Those students who receive a score of 3 or above (on a 5 point scale) will possibly be allowed to test out of freshman theory (some colleges/universities may require a student to take freshman theory even though he/she has received a passing grade on the AP test). 


    In order to be successful in this class, a student should already have a basic knowledge of fundamentals (i.e. note names, key signatures, scales, note values, rhythmic training, etc.).    Extensive ear training, sight singing and analysis will be done, as well as written drills and activities, homework and tests.  The text used for this course will be Music in Theory and Practice, by Benward.  Additional texts will also be utilized.


    Grades will be taken on “in class” assignments and activities as well as homework and tests.  Students will also be given daily points for having the necessary supplies with them.  Since this is an Advanced Placement level class, good attendance is essential.


    Any extra work that a student does will contribute to his/her success in this class.  There are quite a few music theory programs available for computer.  I will compile a list and give it to those who are interested. 


    The AP Music Theory test is optional but highly recommended.  This will be discussed further as the class goes on.


    Required supplies:

                Pencils (we do not accept work in pen)
                Workbook ($35 fee to be turned in by August 31)
                Manuscript paper
                Ruler or straight edge of some kind




    AP Music Theory Syllabus


    First Semester

                1. Notation (Pitch and Rhythm)

    a.       Exercises to reinforce recognition of basic symbols (note values, rest values, staff, enharmonic notes, clefs, proper manuscript, etc

    b.      Meter signatures (simple and compound)

    2.  Scales, Tonality, Key, Modes (Benward Chap. 2)

    a.       Major scale

    1) Scale degree names – tonic, supertonic, median, subdominant, dominant, submediant, and leading tone

    b.      Natural Minor scale

    c.   Harmonic Minor scale

    d.    Melodic minor scale (Ascending and Descending)

    1) Church modes

    2) Chromatic and whole tone scales

    3) Relative/parallel scale relationship

    4) Relative major/minor scales and keys

    5) Parallel scale relationship

    e.       Circle of Fifths

    3.  Intervals (Benward Chap. 3)

    a. Basic intervals

    b. Diatonic intervals

    c.  Chromatic intervals

    c.       Inversion of intervals (sum of 9)

    4.      Triads (Benward Chap. 4)

    a. Root position

    b. Major triads

    c.       Minor triads

    d.      Augmented triads

    e. Diminished triads

    f. Inversion of triads

    g. Figured bass symbols

                h. Roman numeral analysis

                5.   Seventh chords (Benward Chap. 11, 12, 13)

    a.       Dominant seventh chord

    b.      Leading tone seventh chord

    c.       Nondominant seventh chord

    6.   Cadences (Benward chap. 5)

    a.       Perfect Authentic and Imperfect Authentic cadences

    b.      Half cadence

    c.       Plagal cadence

    d.      Deceptive cadence

    7.  Nonharmonic tones (Benward chap. 5)

    a. Passing tones and neighboring tones

    b.      Escape tones and anticipations

    c.       Suspensions





    d.      Retardation (resolution upward)

    e.       Accented vs. unaccented nh tones

    f.        Nonharmonic tones involving more than 3 pitches

    a.       Successive passing tones

    b.      Changing tones

    c.       Pedal tone

    8.   Melodic organization (Benward Chap. 6)

    a. Motive



    b.      Sequence




    c. Phrase member

    d.      Period




    Double Period

    Repeated phrases

    e.       Phrase extension

    9.      Texture (Benward Chap. 7)

    a.       Terms

    Texture, density, range, monophonic, polyphonic, homophonic, primary melody, secondary melody

    b.      Density and range

    c.       Monophonic, polyphonic, homophonic, heterophonic texture

    d.      Primary melody

    e.       Secondary melody



    Second Semester

    1.   Voice leading, stylistic practices and departures, doubling, parallelism, spacing, 6/4 chords (Benward Chap. 8 and 9)

    a. Cantus firmus

    b. Counterpoint

                                                                               i.      Developmental devices

    c. Motion between voices

                                                                             ii.      Parallel

                                                                            iii.      Contrary

                                                                           iv.      Oblique

                                                                             v.      Similar

    f.        Voice leading

                                                                               i.      Two-part

    1.      Restrictions

                                                                             ii.      Four-part

    1.      Analysis of chorale phrases

    2.      Stylistic practices

    3.      First inversion triads

    a.       Smooth bass lines

    b.      Melodic motion in repeated chords

    4.      6/4 chords

    a.       Stylistic practices

                                                                                                                                                       i.      Cadential

                                                                                                                                                     ii.      Passing bass

                                                                                                                                                    iii.      Arpeggiated bass

                                                                                                                                                   iv.      Pedal bass

    5.      Resolution of Seventh chords

    a.       Dominant seventh

    b.      Leading tone seventh

    c.       Nondominant seventh

    6.      Unstylistic departures                     

    a.       never broken

                                                                                                                                                       i.      avoid parallel P8ths and parallel P5ths

                                                                                                                                                     ii.      never double the leading tone         

                                                                                                                                                    iii.      stay in range

                                                                                                                                                   iv.      avoid A2nds and A4th

    b.      Sometimes broken

                                                                                                                                                       i.      avoid crossing voices

                                                                                                                                                     ii.      proper spacing

                                                                                                                                                    iii.      overlap of adjacent voices

                                                                                                                                                   iv.      parallel movement to perfect intervals in outer voices

                                                                                                                                                     v.      proper resolution of the leading tone when in an outer voice

    7.      Voice ranges


    2.      Harmonic Progressions (Benward chap. 10)

    a.       Chordal relationships

                                                                               i.      Root relationships

    b.      Chord progressions

                                                                               i.      Circle progression

                                                                             ii.      Ascending 5ths and Descending 4ths

                                                                            iii.      Ascending 2nds

                                                                           iv.      Diminished seven triad

                                                                             v.      Tonic in second inversion

                                                                           vi.      Repeated chords

    c.       Harmonic rhythm

    d.      Harmonizing a melody

                                                                               i.      Chorale phrase

                                                                             ii.      Folk and familiar melody

    3.      Secondary dominants, secondary leading-tone chords (Benward chap. 15)

    a.       Secondary dominants

                                                                               i.      Characteristics

                                                                             ii.      Part-writing

    b.      Secondary leading-tone chords

                                                                               i.      Characteristics

                                                                             ii.      Part-writing

    4.      Form

    a.       Binary

    b.      Ternary

    c.       Rounded Binary

    d.      Theme and variations

    e.       Sonata allegro

    f.        Rondo


    Ongoing drills

    Melodic dictation

    Ear training

    Sight singing

    Harmonic dictation

    Melodic and harmonic analysis



    The year will culminate with the AP Music Theory test. 




    Music Theory Resource Websites