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AP Music Theory Vocabulary

update: 11/8/2017

    Lowercase letters indicate musical phrases or subsections: for example, a b indicates a contrasting period;
    a b a indicates a phrase, contrasting phrase and return to the original phrase. A prime (as in a a' ) denotes
    a phrase and a varied restatement. Capital letters are used to indicate larger sections of compositions.

    Cadential extension
    Elision (phrase elision)
    Fragment (fragmented motive)

Jazz and pop terms
    song form (AABA)
    twelve-bar blues

Melodic procedures
    extension, phrase extension
    internal expansion
    inversion, melodic inversion
    literal repetition
    motivic transformation
    octave displacement
    rhythmic transformation
    sequential repetition
        contrasting period
        double period
        parallel period
    Phrase group
    Small forms
        rounded binary
        simple binary
    Solo, soli
        thematic transformation

        Roman and Arabic numerals

            Capital Roman numerals denote major triads.
            Lowercase Roman numerals denote minor triads.
            A capital Roman numeral with a “ + ” indicates an augmented triad.
            A lowercase Roman numeral with a “ ø ” indicates a diminished triad.
            Arabic numerals or figured-bass symbols denote intervals above the bass and
            hence indirectly indicate chord inversion. Arabic numerals may indicate voice leading and/or non-harmonic

    6 indicates a first inversion triad

    4 indicates a second inversion triad

Seventh Chords
    7 indicates a root-position seventh chord

    ø7 indicates a diminished (fully-diminished) seventh chord

    Ø7 indicates a half-diminished seventh chord

    5 indicates first inversion

    3 indicates second inversion

    2 indicates third inversion

Other figures
    8–7 indicates melodic movement from an octave to a seventh above the bass.
    9–8, 7–6, 4–3 indicate a suspension and melodic resolution.
    An accidental before an Arabic numeral indicates alteration of the interval involved.
    A figure with a slash (e.g., ) or a plus (e.g., 4+) indicates that the note creating the interva
l in question is raised a half step.

Cadence Types
    Authentic Cadence
        Imperfect authentic Cadence
        Perfect authentic Cadence
    Conclusive cadence
        Phrygian half

    Inconclusive cadence

Chord Quality
        augmented or +
        diminished or ø
        major or M
        minor or m

    Seventh chords
        major seventh (MM; M7) (“major-major”)
        dominant seventh (Mm7) (used for "major-minor" seventh chords exercising a dominant function)
        minor seventh (m7; mm) (“minor-minor”)
        half-diminished seventh (Ø7; dm) (“diminished-minor”)
        fully-diminished seventh (ø7; dd) (“diminished-diminished”)

Functions and Progressions
    Scale degrees/diatonic chord names
        leading tone

        tonic function
        dominant function
        predominant function

    Circle of fifths
    Deceptive progression
    Harmonic rhythm

        common tone modulation
        phrase modulation
        pivot chord modulation

    Neighboring chord
    Rate of harmonic change
    Realize, realization of a figured bass, realization of a four-part Roman numeral progression

    Secondary dominant
    Secondary leading tone chord

Treatment of second inversion ( 6/4 ) triads
    Arpeggiating 6
                           4—a 6/4 created by arpeggiation of the triad in the bass (e.g., 1a).

    Cadential 6
                     4—a I 6/4 preceding the dominant, often at a cadence. Although it contains the notes of the tonic triad, it does not                               exercise a tonic

function but rather serves as an embellishment of the dominant. It occurs in a metrically stronger position than      the dominant, and the upper voices most often move by step to the tones of the dominant. May also be written as V6/4 = 5/3 , including the resolution of the cadential 6/4 to the dominant (e.g., 1b).

    Neighboring or pedal 6
                                         4 (embellishing 6/4, auxiliary 6/4 )—occurs when the third and fifth of a root position triad are         embellished by their respective upper neighboring tones, while the bass is stationary, usually occurring on a weak beat (e.g., 1c).

    Passing 6
                4—harmonizes the second note of a three-note ascending or descending scale fragment in the bass; that is, it harmonizes               a bass passing tone. The usual metric placement is on an unaccented beat and the motion of the upper voices is ordinarily                 by step (e.g., 1d).

Non-harmonic Tones
    Escape tone (échappeé)
    Neighboring tone (auxiliary tone, embellishing tone, neighbor note)
        double neighbor
        lower neighbor
        upper neighbor
        neighbor group (cambiata, changing tones, changing notes)

    Passing tone (accented, unaccented)
    Pedal point
        rearticulated suspension
        suspension chain


    Close position
    Open position
    Inversion, inversion of chords

    Root position
    First inversion
    Second inversion
    Third inversion

Voice Leading
    Common tone
    Contrary motion
    Cross relation (false relation)
    Crossed voices (voice crossing)
    Direct fifths (hidden fifths)
    Direct octaves (hidden octaves)
    Oblique motion
    Overlapping voices
    Parallel motion
    Parallel intervals

        objectionable parallels
        parallel fifths
        parallel octaves

    Similar motion
    Tendency tone
    Unresolved leading tone
    Unresolved seventh

    Voice exchange

Miscellaneous Harmonic Terms
    Arpeggio, arpeggiation
    Common Practice Style
    Figured bass

    Flatted fifth
    Lead sheet
    Picardy third

    Compound interval
    Half step (semitone)
    Inversion, inversion of an interval
    Numerical names (i.e., third, fifth, octave)
    Quality or type (e.g., perfect, major, minor, diminished, augmented)
    Unison (prime)
    Whole step (whole tone)

Performance Terms
    Call and response
        terrace dynamics
        pianissimo pp
        piano p
        mezzo piano mp
        mezzo forte mf
        forte f
        fortissimo ff
    Improvisation, improvisatory

Rhythm/Meter/Temporal Organization
        agogic accent
        dynamic accent
        metrical accent

    Anacrusis (pickup; upbeat)
    Asymmetrical meter
    Bar line

    Beat type

    Changing meter (multimeter)
    Cross rhythm
    Dot, double dot
    Dotted rhythm
    Irregular meter


    Note value

    Swing rhythm
    Time signature (meter signature)

    Chromatic, chromaticism
    Key signature
        harmonic minor
        melodic minor, ascending/descending natural minor (Aeolian)

    Parallel key, parallel major or minor
    Relative key, relative major or minor
    Scale degrees
        tonic ^1
        supertonic ^2
        mediant ^3
        subdominant ^4
        dominant ^5
        submediant ^6
        leading tone ^7
    Whole-tone scale

Text/Music Relations

    Alberti bass
    Chordal accompaniment
        imitative polyphony
        nonimitative polyphony
        fugal imitation
    Heterophony, heterophonic
    Homophony, homophonic
        chordal homophony
        chordal texture (homorhythmic)
        melody with accompaniment
        rhythm section
    Monophony, monophonic
    Polyphony, polyphonic
    Solo, soli
    Walking bass

Other terms that may be used on the AP Music Theory Exam
    Art song
    String quartet

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