How to Listen to the Radio Like an AP Music Theory Student

How to Listen to the Radio Like an AP Music Theory Student

Music speaks when words fail, it carries stories throughout generations, defines cultures and travels wherever human kind dares to venture. While the song on the radio may seem inconsequential it is the current evolution and modification of an art that has been around much longer than we have. Music theory isnt about accumulating knowledge and applying it to everything that you hear, it is about recognizing patterns and listening to music with a different set of ears. That song you hear on the radio that you cannot get out of your head, appeals to you for a reason. An Ap Music theory student can listen to a song, identify the genre, the mode, time signature, key and idiosyncrasies of the song that make it likable within the first minute of hearing it. This article will teach you how to experience the radio like an AP music theory student

Method 1 of 5:
Identify if its simple or complex

1
Since the early 2000s when four simple chords proved to have an appeal that made artists millions the same four chords can be found in many of the songs on the radio. C, A, F, G or the chord progression CAFG Identifying those songs on the radio is the first step of thinking like an AP Music theory and eventually listening like one
2
Example of those 4 chords Baby by Justin Bieber Shape of you by Ed Sheeran All of you by John Legend Hey Soul Sister by Train Can You feel the love tonight by Elton John Take me home country roads by John Denver Let it be by the Beatles No Woman No cry by Bob Marley Under the Bridge by the Red Hot Chile Peppers
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Method 2 of 5:
Tap your foot

1
Tapping your foot to the music can help you differentiate between different time signatures. Typically on the radio there is the standard 4/4 song, that has four beats in a measure. Easy to tap your foot along to . And there is the 6/8 song. Which has 6 beats in measure that is counted in eighth notes. typically counted as (1 e and uh 2 and). This song typically moves at a faster tempo so your leg would get sore from tapping along to the tune
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Method 3 of 5:
Identify patterns in the structure

1
Songs have an inherent structure that most musicians and songwriters stick to. They start with and intro, then verse, the refrain, then a chorus, then the hook, the bridge (the part that can define a tune) then the break and into the outro. Listening to a song. Once you can recognize this pattern you will be able to do three things. identify simple songs, identify their time signature, and identify the structure. All of this information ties into the ability to identify patterns which is foundational in the thought process of an Ap Music Theory Student
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Method 4 of 5:
Feel the bass

1
Music on the radio now has a heavy synth and electronic presence, but one thing that has stayed constant is that deep pitched instrument or electronically reproduced instrument that moves the song along. In some cases the base defines the song (Seven Nation army or Feel Good Inc. ) and in some cases its the subtle presence that keeps you engaged when the song is dragging. And in most cases its the beat that you tap on to your steering wheel and the excitement that you feel as the beat of the bass gets faster and faster because you are aware that the drop in the song is coming.
2
For classical fans that bass may be more complex, for example an Alberti bass played on the left hand of the piano or the cello might be something that is more relatable. But the presence of a bass is something that is intergenre since polyharmonic and polyphonic music hit the radio
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Method 5 of 5:
Learn Vocabulary and apply it to what you hear

1
Words like intervals, mode, chromatic, and chords seem daunting and complex but once a clear definition is established they can be sued to explain the idiosyncrasies you hear in certain songs
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Method 1 of 5:
Identify if its simple or complex

1
Since the early 2000s when four simple chords proved to have an appeal that made artists millions the same four chords can be found in many of the songs on the radio. C, A, F, G or the chord progression CAFG Identifying those songs on the radio is the first step of thinking like an AP Music theory and eventually listening like one
2
Example of those 4 chords Baby by Justin Bieber Shape of you by Ed Sheeran All of you by John Legend Hey Soul Sister by Train Can You feel the love tonight by Elton John Take me home country roads by John Denver Let it be by the Beatles No Woman No cry by Bob Marley Under the Bridge by the Red Hot Chile Peppers
Advertisement

Method 2 of 5:
Tap your foot

1
Tapping your foot to the music can help you differentiate between different time signatures. Typically on the radio there is the standard 4/4 song, that has four beats in a measure. Easy to tap your foot along to . And there is the 6/8 song. Which has 6 beats in measure that is counted in eighth notes. typically counted as (1 e and uh 2 and). This song typically moves at a faster tempo so your leg would get sore from tapping along to the tune
Advertisement

Method 3 of 5:
Identify patterns in the structure

1
Songs have an inherent structure that most musicians and songwriters stick to. They start with and intro, then verse, the refrain, then a chorus, then the hook, the bridge (the part that can define a tune) then the break and into the outro. Listening to a song. Once you can recognize this pattern you will be able to do three things. identify simple songs, identify their time signature, and identify the structure. All of this information ties into the ability to identify patterns which is foundational in the thought process of an Ap Music Theory Student
Advertisement

Method 4 of 5:
Feel the bass

1
Music on the radio now has a heavy synth and electronic presence, but one thing that has stayed constant is that deep pitched instrument or electronically reproduced instrument that moves the song along. In some cases the base defines the song (Seven Nation army or Feel Good Inc. ) and in some cases its the subtle presence that keeps you engaged when the song is dragging. And in most cases its the beat that you tap on to your steering wheel and the excitement that you feel as the beat of the bass gets faster and faster because you are aware that the drop in the song is coming.
2
For classical fans that bass may be more complex, for example an Alberti bass played on the left hand of the piano or the cello might be something that is more relatable. But the presence of a bass is something that is intergenre since polyharmonic and polyphonic music hit the radio
Advertisement

Method 5 of 5:
Learn Vocabulary and apply it to what you hear

1
Words like intervals, mode, chromatic, and chords seem daunting and complex but once a clear definition is established they can be sued to explain the idiosyncrasies you hear in certain songs
Advertisement