How Is The Musical Alphabet Learned?Posted by Mike Schuck
Music is a very diverse genre that contains many different styles, but one thing they all have in common is the alphabet. The musical alphabet includes notes that make up songs and rhymes that go along with those notes. These melodies and lyrics are organized into sets of three to five lines called phrases.
Some music theorists organize the notes by pitch (high or low) while others organize them according to position (treble, bass, etc.). But no matter which order you choose, there’s an important rule for using the notes!
The rule says that every phrase must contain at least one tone-deaf person who doesn’t know the difference between a note higher than a “g” and a note lower than an “f.” This isn’t too hard of a rule to follow since most people can’t tell whether a note has a sharp or a flat attached to it.
Musical tones are a different symbol
Another way to identify musical notes is by their tonal quality, or what key they belong to. The first note of a song is usually in the very beginning, often referred to as the root note. This is because the root note has no other notes next to it, so it can be identified as being in its own unique key.
The rest of the notes in the music are then related to the root note through something called an octave. An octave is like the natural scale we have already discussed — only there are eight notes instead of twelve!
By changing where you start your analysis from, this affects which notes are associated with each other. For example, if the root note was one half step lower, then the second tone would be two steps down, making it the third note in the new key.
This process can be repeated over and over again until all the notes are connected to another single tone that is still in the same place. In this case, the third tone will go up a whole step, creating a new key. We call this new key the fourth degree of the original key.
We also refer to these three notes as forming a harmonic sequence or chord. When you know the names for them, it becomes much easier to recognize them.
The musical alphabet is an important tool for anyone who wants to learn how to sing or play music. You can use it to read music, find new songs, and recognize song lyrics!
The way we teach the musical alphabet differs slightly from teacher to teacher, so there is no one “right” way to approach this lesson. What works best for you will depend on your learning style, what materials are easy to access, and how much time you have to devote to studying music.
But before we get into the details of the musical letters, let us take a look at some basic concepts that apply to all musicians.
A note is any sound (or lack thereof) that comes with a name, like A-flat, G#, or C5. Each letter has a number value determined by math formulas that describe the position of the note in relation to other notes.
For example, the second note of a diatonic scale is always one tone higher than the first note, which makes its name G#. This note is called a semitone above tonic (the first note of the major mode).
Music theory teaches us that every integer interval contains whole numbers and half integers. That means that the distance between two notes is either a whole number of steps (like a octave), or a half step (a minor third, or more commonly known as a tritone).
A musical scale is a method for organizing all of the notes of a song. It’s most commonly known as the diatonic (or natural) scale, but there are many types!
The first thing to recognize about musical scales is that they all start with the same note. The note we use to begin our scales can be thought of as the starting point or base tone of the music. This base tone is called the tonic, and the name “tonal” comes from this word meaning “starting point.”
After choosing your tonic, you will then organize the rest of the notes into groups of three which are referred to as steps. Each step is one quarter-tone higher than the last, and these sets make up the octave of the music. There are twelve steps in an octave making a total of twelve different notes within each scale.
By combining several consecutive steps together, you get what we call chords. For example, the familiar chord named after the second letter of the alphabet — G Major — is made up of the steps D – E - F#–A - B - C. These notes create a strong feeling because they are all slightly lower than the tonic. By moving the tonic around the circle of fifths, you learn how to make new chords.
Music theory teaches us that by adding one more note beyond a previous chord, a new chord is created.
Chords are one of the most fundamental parts of music. If you can recognize the chord structure of a song, it is very possible to learn how to play some songs!
Musical chords are simply three or more notes that sound harmonious together. The order doesn’t matter as long as they're all connected.
The easiest way to think about musical chords is by thinking of individual letters in the alphabet. A major chord has two different tones (or ‘letters’) that go up, then down; a minor chord has one rising tone and one falling tone.
By arranging these chords in a sequence, you get new sounds. For example, the first note of a major chord is the tonic — the starting place for any key. By skipping over the second note, you create an octave jump – a new higher pitch. This creates a transition into another note.
Music theory gives special names to certain types of chords based on what kind of feeling they inspire. Major chords are strong and powerful, which makes them good choices for introductions and endings to a piece.
Minor chords have a weaker feel than majors, so they work well for longer passages or pieces with softer lyrics.
A song is typically divided into four parts, or chapters. These are usually referred to as the verse, pre-chorus, chorus, and bridge.
The first part is the verse. The lyrics of the song contain the main body of the song, and it can be repeated twice or more depending on how long the composer wanted the song to be.
The second part is the pre-chorus. This is an instrumental break that sets up the next section. For example, if the song has a strong chorus then after the song finishes singing the chorus, there will be a short break before the third part starts.
That part is called the transition. During this time, the music changes slightly and the tone shifts also. After the transition, the fourth part comes in, which is the new chorus.
This new chorus repeats the same theme but with different words and/or melodies. When the original chorus ends, the bridge follows. This is an extended outro that wraps up the song and leaves you feeling uplifted.
Writing is a very diverse genre that covers many different styles, levels, and concepts. Some people may label it as “novel” or even “storytelling,” but that doesn’t mean it goes away from using other terms like “essay” or “description.”
Music uses a similar system to describe what types of songs are being written about. It’s called the musical alphabet, also referred to as the grapheme-to-phoneme method.
The Jam Addict team is a revolving door of writers who care about music, its effects on culture, and giving aspiring artists tools and knowledge to be inspired and keep on creating.
If you have any questions or concerns or just want to drop us a line, don't hesitate to contact us! We always appreciate the feedback.