Ch 4: AP Music Theory: Scales, Keys, and Modes

About This Chapter

Watch video lessons on scales, keys, and modes and learn key signatures, chromatic scales, church modes, and more. These lessons are just a portion of our AP Music Theory course.

Scales, Keys, and Modes - Chapter Summary and Learning Objectives

You may have learned to play scales on an instrument as a child, but do you know how many different types of scales exist in music? In this chapter, you'll learn about three fundamental music concepts - scales, keys, and modes. Our instructors have broken this chapter down into smaller lessons so you can learn about chromatic scales, minor keys, and church modes in individual videos. We'll take a look at the steps between notes in a scale and how some scales use different numbers of notes. This chapter is designed to teach you:

  • The types of musical scales
  • How to determine major and minor scales
  • The scales used in different genres of music
  • What a musical mode means
  • How the notes are arranged within scales

VideoObjective
Understanding and Building Musical Scales: Definitions and Types of ScalesLearn the definition of a scale and the parts of a scale.
The Chromatic ScaleUnderstand this twelve-pitch scale and its equal spacing between pitches.
How to Determine Major Key Signatures in MusicTake a look at how to recognize and hear when a piece of music is in a major key.
Placing Key Signatures on the Grand StaffSee how the treble and bass staves can be combined to show more notes at once.
The Difference Between the Key and the Key SignatureExplore what key means in music and why it is different than the key signature on a staff.
The Circle of FifthsExamine this visual representation of relationships among the tones of the chromatic scale.
How to Determine Minor Key Signatures in MusicLearn how to listen to or look at a piece of music and determine that it's in a minor key.
The Minor Scale PatternUnderstand the pattern of whole and half steps that characterizes minor scales.
Performing ScalesTake a look at some tips on performing scales.
Degrees of ScalesSee how the notes in a scale are related by degrees.
Pentatonic ScaleExplore this scale that uses five notes per octave.
Whole-Tone ScaleLearn about this type of scale in which the degrees are whole steps.
Diminishing Scale (Octatonic Scale)Examine this eight-note musical scale often used in jazz music.
Blues ScalesLook at the scales commonly used in blues music and why they are fundamental to the genre.
Church Modes: Ionian and Aeolian ModesUnderstand these modes and notes involved in scales used in church music.

11 Lessons in Chapter 4: AP Music Theory: Scales, Keys, and Modes
Test your knowledge with a 30-question chapter practice test
Understanding and Building Musical Scales: Definitions & Types of Scales

1. Understanding and Building Musical Scales: Definitions & Types of Scales

What is a 'scale' in music? How do tonality, pitch, and accidentals play a role in making a scale? What kinds of notes make up a scale? What is the difference between a Major scale, minor scale, blues scale, and pentatonic scale? Learn all about scales in this lesson!

Chromatic Music: Definition, Scale & Harmony

2. Chromatic Music: Definition, Scale & Harmony

This lesson will examine the history and theory behind chromatic music, which was once a symbol of insanity in the musical arts. Test your knowledge at the end with a short quiz.

Key Signature in Music: Definition & Concept

3. Key Signature in Music: Definition & Concept

In this lesson, we're talking about key signatures. We'll learn how to properly write them, how to quickly identify them, and why they're used in the first place.

How to Determine Major Key Signatures in Music

4. How to Determine Major Key Signatures in Music

What is a key signature? How can you tell the key of a song by just looking at it? Are there flats and sharps in all songs? What are some common key signatures in the Major tonality? Find out in this lesson!

How to Determine Minor Key Signatures in Music

5. How to Determine Minor Key Signatures in Music

Key signatures are useful in playing and understanding music, but how do you know if the key signature is for a Major or a minor key? Find out in this lesson!

Understanding the Circle of Fifths: Explanation & Chord Progression

6. Understanding the Circle of Fifths: Explanation & Chord Progression

The musical equivalent of the color wheel, the circle of fifths is an arrangement of musical keys that represents musical relationships between keys. This lesson will look at the how and why of the circle of fifths.

Major Scale: Definition & Intervals

7. Major Scale: Definition & Intervals

You hear it in commercials, pop songs, film music, and even ringtones! Learn what the major scale is, why composers like to use it, and even the special formula you can use to make a major scale on any note!

Minor Scale: Patterns, Chords & Intervals

8. Minor Scale: Patterns, Chords & Intervals

In this lesson, you will learn about minor scales, chords and intervals. You will also learn how music in minor keys sounds more dissonant than major keys because some of the notes are lowered a small amount.

Pentatonic: Definition, Scales & Songs

9. Pentatonic: Definition, Scales & Songs

In this lesson, you will learn about pentatonic scales and how to build them. You will also learn the difference between major and minor pentatonic scales, as well as what kind of music uses pentatonic scales.

Modality: Definition, Principle & Effect

10. Modality: Definition, Principle & Effect

Modality is the precursor to the modern musical scale; its origins can be found in ancient Greek music theory. In this lesson, we'll explore the principle of modality in relation to musical scales and discover how scale degrees build modes.

What Is a Tetrachord? - Definition & Examples

11. What Is a Tetrachord? - Definition & Examples

There are many ways to build a chord. In this lesson, we're going to explore tetrachords by defining the term, talking about where they come from, and looking at some of the ways they can be built and used.

Chapter Practice Exam
Test your knowledge of this chapter with a 30 question practice chapter exam.
Not Taken
Practice Final Exam
Test your knowledge of the entire course with a 50 question practice final exam.
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