About This Chapter
AP Music Theory: Harmonic Composition - Chapter Summary
If you need to prepare for the AP Music Theory exam, study the harmonic composition lessons in this chapter to develop your understanding of tonal harmony, chord families, scale patterns and more. These convenient harmony lessons cover the following concepts to help you answer questions on the exam related to:
- Understanding the rules for writing four-part harmonies
- Analyzing diatonic scale patterns
- Recognizing the use of arpeggios in music
- Identifying instruments that perform basso continuo
- Developing tonal harmony
- Notating and realizing figured bass
- Assessing Roman numeral notation in music
- Contextualizing tonic, subdominant and dominant chord families
- Naming different types of musical cadences
- Defining the tonic in music
- Analyzing methods of motivic transformation
Each lesson outlines definitions and theoretical rules related to harmonic composition so you can be fully prepared for the test. These lessons explain these concepts using musical notation and examples of their applications throughout classical music. Use the lesson quizzes to assess your understanding of these musical concepts and use the quiz results to see if there are any topics that need additional review before test day.
1. The Rules for Writing Four-Part Music
Four-part writing can be difficult, but you don't have to reinvent the wheel. In this lesson, we'll look over some common rules to make four-part writing a little easier.
2. Diatonic Scale: Definition & Patterns
Did you know that you can play an example of every type of diatonic scale just by using the white keys on the piano? Learn about diatonic scales, including major scales, natural minor scales, and modes.
3. Arpeggio in Music: Definition & Patterns
In this lesson you will learn about arpeggios in music. You will learn how chords can be performed as arpeggios, and how arpeggios can be written out in music.
4. Basso Continuo: Definition & Instruments
In Baroque music, most performances were held together by the basso continuo: a couple of instruments playing a bass line and harmonies. In this lesson, you'll learn how the basso continuo worked and which instruments played it.
5. Common Practice Style & Developing Tonal Harmony
In this lesson, you will get to explore the details of music from the Common Practice Period including the subcategories of the Baroque, Classical, and Romantic Periods. Learn about tonal harmony and how it evolved through the Common Practice Period.
6. Figured Bass Notation: Principle & Examples
Do you like to listen to music? What's your favorite part? How about the bass? Some music has strong bass lines. In this lesson, you'll learn about figured bass notation.
7. Figured Bass Realization: Methods, Rules & Examples
In this lesson, find out when figured bass was introduced, what it is, and how it is used in music. We will also discuss realizing a figured bass and its impact on four-part vocal harmony.
8. Roman Numeral Notation in Music Theory
Ever seen Roman numerals in sheet music? Why are those there? In this lesson, we'll examine this notation system and see how it helps us understand the chord structure of a composition.
9. Chord Families: Tonic, Subdominant & Dominant
How do you make music sound good? That question is at the heart of nearly every composition, and one key is knowing how chords fit in the key. We'll see what that means, and look at the three most important chord families.
10. Cadence in Music: Definition & Types
How do composers ensure that the endings of their pieces sound right? In this lesson, we'll look at that question and see what role the cadence has in ending a musical composition.
11. Tonic in Music: Definition & Overview
The tonic pitch in music is what we refer to as the beginning and ending note of the scale used to compose a piece of music. In this lesson, we'll learn more about tonic pitch and what relationship the tonic pitch has to the key of the piece.
12. Motivic Transformation: Definition, Methods & Examples
How can you keep a musical theme integrally tied to a composition without making it boring or redundant? Let's take a look at motivic transformations and see how they can be used to do just this.
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Other chapters within the AP Music Theory: Exam Prep course
- AP Music Theory Exam: Question Types
- AP Music Theory: Fundamentals of Music
- AP Music Theory: Rhythm, Meter, and Metric Organization
- AP Music Theory: Scales, Keys, and Modes
- AP Music Theory: Aural Skills
- AP Music Theory: Spacing, Voicing, & Position
- AP Music Theory: Intervals, Triads & Seventh Chords
- AP Music Theory: Melodic Composition
- AP Music Theory: Nonharmonic Tones
- AP Music Theory: Phrases & Forms
- AP Music Theory: Texture
- AP Music Theory: Performance Terms
- AP Music Theory: Voice Leading
- AP Music Theory: Songs & Genres
- AP Music Theory Flashcards