AP Music Theory Vocab
Everything for the AP Music Theory Exam
Terms in this set (317)
stressed note or chord
accented passing tone
A non chord tone that bridges the gap of a 3rd on the first part of the beat.
a musical notation that makes a note sharp or flat or natural although that is not part of the key signature
A mode used in Gregorian chant based upon the sixth tone of the major scale.
the slight variations of rhythmic strength, tempo, accent and volume derived from the nature of a particular musical phrase that contrasts with the regular pulse set by the time signature
a simple accompaniment consisting of broken chords, usually 'tonic, dominant, mediant, dominant' in succession
person singing second highest part in four-part harmony
pick up note
1. the first phrase of a musical period
2. motive or subject of fugue or canon
3. the first in a pair of musical statements that complement each other in rhythmic symmetry and harmonic balance
approached by step or leap, left by same tone
a type of music in which two or more groups of voices or instruments alternate with one another
approached by leap, left by step
the numbers 0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 and 9
played with bow (stringed instruments)
a lyric song for solo voice generally having two contrasting parts (I and II), ending with a literal or elaborated repeat of part I
Playing the notes of a chord one after another.
Notes of a chord played separately
a composed song in which the text, melody, and accompaniment, are interrelated to create a unified effect.
Directions to a performer indicating characteristics of the attack, duration, and decay (or envelope) of a given note.
the beats in the measure can not be divided evenly
Statement of a melody in longer note values, often twice as slow as the original.
a major or perfect interval raised by a half step
a triad in which the 5th is raised a half step
a vertical line before the accented beat marking the boundary between musical bars
the lowest part in polyphonic music
the basic rhythmic unit in a piece of music
consists of two parts, binary form, two sections, contrasting themes, usually called AB form.
a wind instrument that consists of a brass tube (usually of variable length) blown by means of a cup-shaped or funnel-shaped mouthpiece
contrasting section which also prepares for the return of the original material section
the close of a musical section
a second inversion tonic triad, followed by a root position dominant chord, which then usually resolves according to form a cadence
delay of cadence by addition of material
call and response
A musical statement by a singer or instrumentalist that is answered by other singers or instrumentalists.
a contrapuntal piece of music in which a melody in one part is imitated exactly in other parts
changing meter (multimeter)
the meter changes regularly, from measure to measure, and can be indicated by a double time signature
The underlying harmonic support for a melody; chords may be blocked or
moving together within the chord
chordal texture (homorhythmic)
a texture with similar rhythmic material in all parts
1. A fairly large company of singers who perform together, usually in parts.
2. A composition to be performed by a chorus.
3. The refrain of a song.
based on a scale consisting of 12 semitones
use of tones not in the key on which a composition is based.
circle of fifths
Start on a tonic and moves to the dominant of that tonic, which is the fifth tone of the scale. From there go to the dominant of the previous dominant, that is the fifth tone from the fifth tone of the original tonic. Keep going until you get back to the original note.
close harmony; harmony written so that the parts are as close together as possible, usually with the upper voices very tight together, and the bass somewhat more distantly spaced.
the closing section of a musical composition
marks end of sonatas, ends in a perfect cadence; not necessarily signals the end of the piece; a smaller version of a coda
common practice style
Also "common practice period or era": Historical period spanning approximately 1650-1900 during which music functioned according to the concept of tonal harmony; the pre-eminence of key signatures and tonic-dominant harmony.
a note that remains the same between two or more consecutive chords
common tone modulation
sustained/repeated pitch that acts as a bridge from old key to new key.
a beat that subdivides into three parts
an interval larger than an octave
a composition that shows off a specific instrument (or instruments) with the orchestra used as accompaniment.
Authentic (perfect and imperfect) & plagal cadences make the music sound complete.
progressing melodically by intervals of a second
A term used to describe polyphonic style of music in which all parts have the smae melody but start at different times
An accord of sounds sweet and pleasing to the ear as opposed to dissonance. Perfect consonances are the perfect fourth, fifth, and octave, imperfect consonances are the major and minor thirds and sixths.
a bass part written out in full and accompanied by numbers to indicate the chords to be played
the overall shape of a melodic line. it can move upward, downward, or remain static.
having two or more independent but harmonically related melodic parts sounding together
voices moving in different direction
Accompanying melody sounding against the principle melody
the art of combining in a single texture two or more melodic lines
(music) a gradual increase in loudness
sudden chromatic alteration of pitch in one voice part, immediately after diatonic version has sounded in another voice.
cross rhythm diminution
1. chromatic succession that has been split between two voices (one of the notes in the chromatic succession has been displaced by an octave or more)
2. a harmonic effect in which a note (usu. the mediant) precedes the same note flattened by a semitone in a different part in the following chord
crossed voices (voice crossing)
the intersection of melodic lines in a composition, leaving a lower voice on a higher pitch than a higher voice (and vice versa)
one in which the dominant is followed by a harmony other than the tonic, most often the submediant
The progression V -vi (or V-VI).
based on the standard major or minor scales consisting of 5 tones and 2 semitones without modulation by accidentals
a minor or perfect interval lowered by a half step
minor third and diminished fifth above the root
gradually decreasing in volume
the statement of a theme in notes of lesser duration (usually half the length of the original)
results when the outer parts move in the same direction into a P5, with a leap in the soprano
results when the outer parts move in the same direction into a P8, with a leap into the soprano
progressing melodically by intervals larger than a major second
discord; two or more notes sounded together which are discordant, and, in the prevailing harmonic system, require resolution to a consonance.
any chord or sound that implies motion to the tonic
dominant seventh chord
a seventh chord built on scale degree five (written as V7)
A mode used in Gregorian chant based upon the second tone of the major scale.
mark that represents a duration directive in musical notation. When placed to the right of the notehead, the dot indicates that a note should have half again its original duration.
consist basically of a dotted note and a neighboring note worth one third the duration of the entire duration of the dotted note.
a note with two dots following it, indicates that the note should be extended by a further quarter of its principal time value, i.e. a total extension of three-quarters of its undotted time value
The combination of successive upper and lower neighbors (in either order) around the same pitch.
four phrases in two pairs, cadence at end of second pair is stronger than cadence at the end of the first pair
where two instruments play the same part in ensemble playing, or where an accompanying instrument plays the same notes that a singer is singing
basic metrical pattern of two beats to a measure
A group of two notes played in the time usually taken to play three
the notation of the length of time that a note is to be sounded or the length of time that a rest should be observed
Accent by stress or reinforcement
Degrees of loudness or softness in music
Elision (phrase elision)
when the last note of one phrase serves as the first note of the next phrase
an ornamentation; notes, usually of short duration, that are added to the main melody of a composition to decorate or ornament the melody, they may be either written in by the composer or improvised by the performer.
escape tone (echappee)
approached by step, left by leap in opposite direction
a note added to a triad to form a four, five or more note chord. In jazz, a chord is assumed to have four notes - these will be root, 3rd, 5th and 7th. Further extensions - 9th, 11th or 13th - are termed upper extensions
a bass part written out in full and accompanied by numbers to indicate the chords to be played
figured bass realization
a bass part to which Arabic numbers ("figures") have been added to indicate the accompanying harmonies. The figured bass is realized when the inner voices are added b/t the bass and soprano voices.
A chord with the 3rd as the lowest tone.
diminished fifth, an interval consisting of six semitones (half steps)
Fragment (fragmented motive)
division of a succession of notes that has some special importance in or is characteristic of a composition
breaking up a subject into small segments, any one of which may form the basis for further development
imitation of the subject which enters at a different pitch level, usually the fourth or fifth
a musical form consisting of a theme repeated a fifth above or a fourth below its first statement
full-diminished seventh chord
has successive intervals minor third, minor third and minor third, that is a diminished triad with an added diminished seventh
an expressive style of music
ends on V
half-diminished seventh chord
A seventh chord consisting of a diminished triad and a minor seventh.
a semi-tone. There are 12 half-steps in an octave
harmonic minor scale
a minor scale with a raised 7th scale degree
time or rhythmic value in which harmony progresses; the regularity and linear motion of chord progression
the structure of music with respect to the composition and progression of chords
a shift in the rhythmic pulse from a division of two to a division of three, or vice versa (ex: 6/8 to 3/4; using eighth to quarter notes or using ties)
Texture in which two or more voices (or parts) elaborate the same melody simultaneously, often the result of improvisation.
multiple performers playing simultaneous variations of the same line of music
5th approached by similar motion
octave approached by similar motion
Texture with principal melody and accompanying harmony, as distinct from polyphony.
part music with one dominant voice (in a homophonic style)
melodic idea presented in one voice and then restated in another, each part continuing as others enter.
a technique in which each phrase of a compostion is addressed by all of the voices, whitch enter successively in imitation of each other
imperfect authentic cadence
type of cadence, slightly weaker than PAC due to either: highest sounding tone is something other than tonic, diminished seven chord is substituted for V, or one or both of the chords (V or I) is inverted
A cadence that doesn't end on I.
the act of arranging a piece of music for an orchestra and assigning parts to the different musical instruments
Any piece of music played or sung between the movements of a larger composition.
phrase extends beyond the expected phrase length
the difference in pitch between two notes
section which opens a movement, establishes melodic, harmonic, and/or rhythmic elements
(counterpoint) a variation of a melody or part in which ll ascending intervals are replaced by descending intervals and vice versa
In the system of modes, the ionian mode is the one based on C, therefore, it is the modern major scale.
a meter featuring beats of unequal size (i.e., meter of 5 or meter of 7)
A specific scale or series of notes defining a particular tonality. Keys may be defined as major or minor, and are named after their tonic or keynote.
the sharps or flats that follow the clef and indicate the key
an abbreviated musical score, consisting of a melody line with chord names or symbols, and sometimes lyrics
the seventh note of the diatonic scale
without breaks between notes
sequences are repeated, indicated by repeat sign, capo, or segno
A mode based upon the seventh tone of the scale. This mode, using B as the tonic, includes all the tones on the C major scale.
a tone that is a step lower than the surrounding chord tones (C-B-C)
The fifth church mode, the lydian mode based on F, contains the notes of the C major scale, yet uses F as the tonic.
the words to a song
of a scale or mode
the interval between the tonic and the second, third, sixth, or seventh scale degree
major seventh chord
Major Triad + Major Third
Major 3rd and Perfect 5th
major-minor seventh chord
Major Triad + Minor Third
marked; with emphasis
the third note of a diatonic scale
melodic style characterized by many notes sung to a single text syllable
each note in the repetition of the give melodic figure progresses to the next note by the same interval, but in the opposite direction
melodic minor scale
A minor scale type which has an ascending form and a descending form. It lowers scale degree 3 when ascending and scale degrees 3, 6, and 7 when descending
a succession of notes forming a distinctive sequence
melody with accompaniment
Also homophony - one melody with a homophonic accompaniment.
rhythm as given by division into parts of equal time
meter and rhythmic patterns
Neither dictionary had it so I'm saying this has something to do with rhythm and beat.
two numbers, one on top of the other, usually placed at the beginning of the music to tell the performer what note value is carrying the beat and how the beats are to be grouped
Probably simple, compound, and asymmetrical
a note that is on a strong beat, such as the first beat of a measure
mezzo forte mf
mezzo piano mp
A series of tones that defines a minor tonality.
The natural minor scale has the same tones as the major scale, but uses the sixth tone of the major scale as its tonic. Thus, the semitones (half steps) are between the second and third tones and the fifth and sixth tones
Half-Step smaller than Major Interval; when writing up: lower upper note, writing down: make the lower note higher
minor seventh chord
Minor Triad + Minor Third
a triad featuring a minor third between the two lower notes.
The seventh Gregorian mode; the mode based upon the fifth tone of the scale. This mode, based on G, includes all the tones of the C major scale.
any of various fixed orders of the various diatonic notes within an octave
The process of changing from one key to another.
consisting of a single melodic line
single line texture or melody without accompaniment
a theme that is elaborated on in a piece of music
The general process through which a motive repeats and changes
rhythmic theme is changed
natural minor scale
A minor scale formation, similar to a major scale with lowered 3, 6 and 7.
Embellishes a single pitch by sounding its upper and lower neighbors in succession (in either order).
formed by 2-3 neighbor notes occurring at the same time in similar motion to make a new chord
neighboring or pedal 6/4
3rd and 5th of a root position triad are embellished by upper neighboring tones, bass is stationary, usually occurs on weak beat
approached by step, left by step in opposite direction
tone not in the chord structure
Polyphony where the materials for each independent voice is unique.
(music) the relative duration of a musical note
numerical names (3rd, 5th, etc)
a part of the score that must be performed without change or omission
objectionable parallel intervals
p8s & p5s
Contrapuntal, or voice-leading, motion in which one part repeats the same pitch while the other moves by leap, skip, or step.
taking a melodic line and moving some of the notes into a different octave
when the notes of a chord are spaced larger than an octave
A drama set to music, usually sung throughout, originating in 17th century Italy. Opera is a combination of music, drama, scenery, costumes, dance, etc., to create a complete art form.
Musical ornaments (or embellishments) are symbols that provide direction for performers to embellish the written musical notation in specific ways. Each musical period through history has specific ways that the performer is expected to perform each of the ornaments. the most commonly used ornaments today include the trill, grace note, arpeggio, mordent, and turn.
a musical phrase repeated over and over during a composition
A means of phrase connection in which one phrase ends simultaneously with the beginning of the next. May involve more than one musical layer: while one or more voice parts finish the first phrase, one or more other voice parts simultaneously begin the next. OR it means a voice-leading error in which one voice overlaps into the register of an adjacent voice on an adjacent beat.
two parts that are separated by P5 move to new pitch classes separated by the same interval
Two or more adjacent intervals made by parallel motion.
when all of the lines or parts move in the same direction, and at the same intervals, for a period of time; the opposite of counterpoint
two parts that are separated by P8 move to new pitch classes separated by the same interval
melodic material that begin the two halves of the periods are similar
Occurs between a root position and a first inversion chord, and result in smooth, step-wise motion in the bass. May be used with ascending or descending bass lines.
a note, usually in the bass, sustained or continually repeated for a period of time while the harmonies change around it
perfect authentic cadence
A progression from (V to I in major keys) and (V to i in minor keys).
Both chords must be in root position
Strongest cadence from the standpoint of finality
The tonic note must be the highest sounding pitch in the tonic triad
an interval of a unison, 4th, 5th, or octave
A complete musical thought, concluded by a cadence, having two phrases, each usually two to eight measures in length, called the antecedent and the consequent.
a phrase whose length has been increased through the elongation of some part of it, but which would be complete without whatever has been added.
Transitional passages that connect more significant thematic areas. They seem to belong together without forming a period or double period.
modulations without common chords or tones
The structure of a phrase
phrygian half cadence
A half cadence from iv to V in a minor key
The third of the Church modes. The mode based upon the third note of the major scale. In the key of C major, phrygian mode would start on the key of E, and include all the notes of the C major scale.
A practice from the 16th century and the Baroque era of ending a composition with a major chord, when the rest of the composition is in a minor key, thus giving the composition a sense of finality.
pivot chord modulation
a type of modulation that moves from the original key to the destination key (usually a closely related key) by way of a chord both keys share
by means of plucking the strings instead of using the bow
having two or more independent but harmonically related melodic parts sounding together
musical texture in which two or more melodic lines are played or sung simultaneously
the simultaneous sounding of two or more independent rhythms
A composition that concludes a larger composition. Also, a composition performed at the end of a church service as the congregation leaves.
any chord that leads to a dominant chord such as the supertonic, subdominant, submediant, secondary dominant, minor six chord, and diminshed seventh chord.
1. An instrumental composition intended to introduce a larger composition or a set of compositions.
2. A short composition for piano.
3. A composition which establishes the key for a composition that immediately follows.
In part writing, the positioning of the notes in a chord so that one of them, sounding as a consonant note within the first chord, sounds as a dissonant note in the next chord. This note is then resolved in the following chord.
an unbroken series of distinct yet identical periodically occurring short stimuli perceived as points in time; although 'beat' and 'pulse' are generally used as though they are synonymous, some writers make a distinction between them. For example, in 9/8 time, compound triple time, there are 9 'pulses' but only 3 'beats'
Basic metrical pattern of four beats to a measure. Also common time.
rate of harmonic change
rate at which the chords change or the harmony changes in a piece
suspension that is rearticulated on the beat
A verse which repeats throughout a song or poem at given intervals.
A division of the range of an instrument or singing voice. Usually registers are defined by a change in the quality of the sound between a lower range and a higher range.
(music) a dissonant chord is followed by a consonant chord
approached by same tone, left by step up
Moving backwards; A device used by composers where a series of notes (comprising a figure or theme) is brought back later in the composition, but written backwards. This device is essential in twelve-tone music. Also, twelve-tone music allows any note in the series to be placed in any octave, so the retrograde form of a serial melody does not necessarily match the contour of the original melody.
A device used by composers to make the chords of a composition move in the opposite direction from a normal progression.
the basic rhythmic unit in a piece of music
the section of a band or orchestra that plays percussion instruments
multiplication, rotation, permutation (i.e. transposition, inversion, and retrograde), and combinations thereof involving rhythm
The number system of Ancient Rome that used letters and symbols, III=3, V=5
The tonic or fundamental note of a chord.
A chord with the root notated as the lowest tone.
Musical form similar to ternary but first section isn't fully repeated (A | Ba)
A series of notes in ascending or descending order that presents the pitches of a key or mode, beginning and ending on the tonic of that key or mode. The degrees of a scale have specific names shown below and each of the unique 12 notes of the chromatic scale can be the tonic note of a scale.
Tonic, Super Tonic, Mediant, Subdominant, Dominant, Submediant, Leading Tone
analyzing the score
a triad written with the fifth as the lowest note
the V or Dominant of a key other than Tonic
secondary leading tone chord
a leading tone chord that functions as applied or secondary, dominant, usually fully diminished seventh chord
V of something other than one.
the musical interval between adjacent keys on a keyboard instrument
several repetitions of a melodic phrase in different keys
transposing a longer sequence to a different scale degree; may be diatonic or intervalically exact
Chords consisting of a root, 3rd, 5th, and 7th
singing at sight or for the first time
Contrapuntal, or voice-leading, motion in which both parts move in the same direction, but not by the same generic interval.
a beat that subdivides into two parts
has two distinct sections. The B section is typically in a key other than tonic but returns to tonic by the end.
(music) a curved line spanning notes that are to be played legato
Short and simple forms, eg. rounded binary, simple ternary
more than one performer in unison
a musical composition for one voice or instrument (with or without accompaniment)
a musical composition of 3 or 4 movements of contrasting forms
Any composition designed to be sung, either accompanied or unaccompanied.
song form (AABA)
(quaternary song form) A song form consisting of four (usually eight-bar) phrases. The first two phrases begin the same (they may be identical or may differ at the cadence). They are followed by a contrasting section (bridge) and then ta return to the opening material, making the overall form a a ba. Also known as thirty-two-bar song form.
the pitch range of the highest female voice
detached or disconnected in sound or style
a poem set with a recurring pattern of both rhyme and meter. A "strophic" song (as opposed to a "through-composed" song) has several stanzas or verses set to music that remains the same or similar with each stanza. Many hymns follow this pattern.
Chamber music ensemble consisting of two violins, viola, and cello. Also a multimovement composition for this ensemble.
in an organ, flue pipes of narrow scale, voiced to have many harmonics
4th scale degree
Scale degree 6
7th scale degree of the natural minor scale only
the second scale degree
In part writing, a suspension is a situation in which a single note of one chord is held over into another chord, thus creating a dissonance, which is resolved by step in the following chord.
resolution of one suspension serves as preparation for another
music played with near-triplet timing
The style of chant which sets one note to each syllable of text.
a large composition for orchestra, generally in three or four movements. The symphony may also be defined as a sonata for orchestra. The earlier symphonies, those of the Classical era, were generally simpler, and of a smaller scale. By the late Romantic era, the symphony had grown in number of movements, length of movements, number of instruments, variety of instruments, and dynamic range.
a musical rhythm accenting a normally weak beat
time in music; rate of speed at which a piece of music moves
organization through time
A chord member or scale degree whose dissonant relation to the surrounding tones requires a particular resolution in common-practice style (
chordal sevenths resolve down, and leading tones resolve up
Male voice of high range. Also a part, often structural, in polyphony.
fully sustained, occasionally even a bit longer than the note value requires
musical form that consists of 3 sections ABA, in which the A's stay the same and the B contrasts with A
Expressive style typical of some early music in which volume levels shift abruptly from soft to loud and back without gradual crescendos and decrescendos.
most widely used range of pitches in a piece of music
words to which music is set, a passage, a caption (to a picture), lyrics (to a song), libretto
the musical pattern created by parts being played or sung together
a seventh chord voiced so that the chordal seventh is in the bass
unite musical notes by a tie
the distinctive property of a complex sound (a voice or noise or musical sound)
a musical notation indicating the number of beats to a measure and kind of note that takes a beat
organization by note
the first note of a diatonic scale
when two notes are played successively, that is a melodic interval. two notes played simultaneously is a harmonic interval.
The result when a chord becomes a temporary tonic by means of a secondary, or applied, dominant. The key of the passage does not really change, and the temporary tonic soon returns to its normal functional role in the primary key.
playing in a different key from the key intended
Chords of three notes
Basic metrical pattern of three beats to a measure.
three notes performed in the space of two
the interval of an augmented 4th or a diminished 5th (spanning 3 whole tones).
Form of motivic transformation; "subtraction"
in jazz, the technique uses a set of chords played at the end of one section to provide a smooth transition into the next section. Turnarounds are quite familiar during changes from the chorus to the verse in any jazz setting. In the standard A-A-B-A form the turnaround would occur between sections B and A
standard formula for the blues with a harmonic progression in which the first four measure phrase is on the tonic the second phrase begins on the subdominant and ends on the tonic and the third phrase on the dominant and returns to the tonic.
unaccented passing tone
A NCT that bridges the gap of a 3rd on the later part of the beat.
two or more sounds or tones at the same pitch or in octaves
unresolved leading tone
Leading tones want to resolve upward to tonic; it is very unsatisfactory and
objectionable not to do so.
The seventh of a seventh chord wants to resolve downward; it is very
unsatisfactory and objectionable not to do so.
a tone that is a step higher than the surrounding chord tones (D-E-D)
In POLYPHONY, technique in which voices trade segments of music, so that the same combination of lines is heard twice or more, but with different voices singing each line.
a bass line that moves at a moderate pace, mostly in equal note values, and often stepwise up or down the scale
a musical interval of two semitones
an instrument family whose sound is produced by means of vibrating column of air enclosed in a pipe or tube. w/ the exception of the flute and piccolo, the vibration is produced by a single or double reed
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