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A Program of the Virginia Department of Education

05114 AP Music Theory

Field of Study

AP Music Theory students develop their aural, sight-singing, written, compositional, and analytical skills through a series of listening, performance, written, creative, and analytical exercises.

Material Covered

The course covers the mastery of the rudiments and terminology of music with an emphasis on speed and fluency and then progresses to more sophisticated and creative tasks to include: melodic and harmonic dictation, composition of a bass line for a given melody implying appropriate harmony, realization of a figured bass, realization of a Roman numeral progression, analysis of repertoire, including melody, harmony, rhythm, texture, and form and sight-singing. The exam covers the topics of: musical terminology, notational skills, basic compositional skills, musical analysis (from a printed score or with aural stimulus), and aural skills.

Student Expectations

Students are expected to: define all terms and symbols, complete all workbook and textbooks assignments, practice ear-training exercises, apply their learning to music theory reading and writing assessments, and submit aural skills assessments.

Additional Information

The student’s ability to read and write musical notation is fundamental to AP Music Theory. It is also assumed that the student has acquired (or is acquiring) at least basic performance skills in voice or on an instrument. The ability to play piano as well as sing, or the willingness to develop these basic skills, will greatly contribute to success in the course.

Colleges or Universities may recognize a qualified score on the AP Music Theory Exam.


Prior success in: band, chorus, orchestra, guitar, or piano is recommended.

Course Texts and Materials


    • Alfred’s Essentials of Music Theory Complete Workbook and CD
      A Complete Self-Study Guide for all Musicians
      Andrew Surmani, Karen Farnum Surmani & Morton Manus – Alfred Music Publishing
      ISBN-10: 0-7390-3635-1
      ISBN-13: 978-0-7390-3635-8


  • Barron’s AP Music Theory Book and CD (2nd Edition)
    Nancy Scoggin- Barron’s Educational Series
    ISBN-13: 978-1438073897
    ISBN-10: 1438073895
  1. Materials:
  • Access to an acoustic or electric piano/ keyboard
  • Access to a compact disc player or ability to download sound files to a computer drive for class use
  • Earbuds or headphones
  • Area to practice and record ear training and sight singing
  • Access to equipment for submitting ear training and sight singing assessments
  • Pencils


Optional but strongly recommended:



  • Tonal Harmony Book, Seventh Edition
    Kostak-Payne-McGraw Hill Global Education
    ISBN-10: 0078025141
    ISBN-13: 9780078025143


  • Tonal Harmony Workbook, Seventh Edition
    Kostak-Payne-McGraw Hill Global Education
    Workbook Seventh Edition includes CD
    ISBN-10: 0077410173
    ISBN-13: 9780077410179


  • Tonal Harmony Audio CD, Seventh Edition
    Kostka-Payne-McGraw Hill Global Education
    ISBN-10: 0077410130
    ISBN-13: 9780077410131
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