Music Theory & Music Theory - Strings

Cultivate your understanding of music theory through analyzing performed and notated music


Music Theory

This course enables students to enhance their musical literacy through the creation, appreciation, analysis, and performance of music. Students will perform traditional, commercial, and art music, and will respond with insight to live and recorded performances. Students will enhance their understanding of the function of music in society and the impact of music on themselves and various communities and cultures. Students will analyze how to apply skills developed in music to their life and careers.

Music Theory Strings

This course emphasizes the creation and performance of music at a level consistent with previous experience and is aimed at developing technique, sensitivity, and imagination. Students will develop musical literacy skills by using the creative and critical analysis processes in composition, performance, and a range of reflective and analytical activities. Students will develop an understanding of the conventions and elements of music and of safe practices related to music, and will develop a variety of skills transferable to other areas of their life.

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The AP Music Theory course corresponds to one-to-two semesters of typical, introductory college music theory coursework that covers topics such as musicianship, theory, and musical materials and procedures. Musicianship skills, including dictation and listening skills, sightsinging, and harmony, are an important part of the course. Through the course, students develop the ability to recognize, understand, and describe basic materials and processes of tonal music that are heard or presented in a score. Development of aural (listening) skills is a primary objective. Performance is also part of the curriculum through the practice of sight-singing. Students learn basic concepts and terminology by listening to and performing a wide variety of music. Notational skills, speed, and fluency with basic materials are emphasized.

Course Content

Based on the Understanding by Design® (Wiggins and McTighe) model of curriculum development, this course framework provides a clear and detailed description of the knowledge and skills necessary for student success in AP Music Theory, evaluated in the context of the AP Music Theory Exam, and aligned with college expectations. The framework specifies what students must know, be able to do, and understand, with a focus on big ideas that encompass core principles and processes of the discipline. The framework also encourages instruction that prepares students for advanced music theory coursework, as well as lifelong musical engagement and practice.

The AP Music Theory framework is organized into eight commonly taught units of study that provide
one possible sequence for the course. As always, you have the flexibility to organize the course content as you like.

Unit 1: Music Fundamentals I: Pitch, Major Scales and Key Signatures, Rhythm, Meter, and Expressive Elements
Unit 2: Music Fundamentals II: Minor Scales and Key Signatures, Melody, Timbre, and Texture
Unit 3: Music Fundamentals III: Triads and Seventh Chords
Unit 4: Harmony and Voice Leading I: Chord Function, Cadence, and Phrase
Unit 5: Harmony and Voice Leading II: Chord Progressions and Predominant Function
Unit 6: Harmony and Voice Leading III: Embellishments, Motives, and Melodic Devices
Unit 7: Harmony and Voice Leading IV: Secondary Function
Unit 8: Modes and Form
Skills Description
1. Analyze Performed Music
Apply musical terms, concepts, and relationships to performed music (aural).
2. Analyze Notated Music
Apply musical terms, concepts, and relationships to notated music (written).
3. Convert Between Performed and Notated Music
Apply conventions of musical notation and performance in converting music between aural and written forms.
4. Complete Based on Cues
Complete music based on cues, following 18th-century stylistic norms.

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