How Many Letters Are In The Musical Alphabet?Posted by Mike Schuck
The musical alphabet is an easy way to learn some of the most important letters of music. You can start by learning the letter “A,” for note and rhythm. Then move onto the next letter, which is like A but with no silence between each note. This second group of notes is called a rest.
Next, you will learn how to combine both groups into one long tone or pitch. This is done by adding the number of A rests to the end of the first A note. For example, if your starting note was a C, then there would be one rest added at the end. Therefore, the new note would be a D with a 1/2 rest attached to it!
This process can be repeated as needed until the song has finished. It is great practice for anyone who needs help understanding time signatures or chords! If you want more info on this concept, check out our article here: https://www.learnerwise.
B is for Butterfly
Let’s look at another letter of the musical alphabet, the note B! The second note of the major scale is called a butterfly or octave-on-down tone.
The name “butterfly” comes from its similarity to the shape of some butterflies. When you play this pitch as an interval (distance) between two other notes, it creates the illusion of a fluttering sound similar to that of a butterfly.
This music theory concept applies not only to pure tones like the one we just looked at, but also appoggiaturas (notes that move down by half a step), suspensions (pausing the ear before moving onto the next note), and dominants (moving up slightly then back down). All these intervals create a steady flow of energy that moves towards the next chord or tonal area.
C is for Coffee
The next letter of the musical alphabet is definitely not what most people think it is! You have probably heard the term ‘C’ as in chord, or circle, but this letter actually refers to something much more specific. It stands for coffee!
Most musicians learn about music theory by learning the major scale (A B C D E F G). After figuring out which notes make up the whole song, the next step is determining the tonic note – the key of the song.
The tonic is usually either A, B, or sometimes even H depending on the artist. By using the major scale, you can pick any other note and be close to the tonic. For example, if the song has A as its tonic, then the natural second tone is B.
By thinking about music theory as learning about beverages, your inner musician can explore many things. For instance, the perfect rhythm for having a cup of tea is one and two beats per measure. Having a sip of water takes longer than both of those so that pattern does not work.
Knowing how to identify all the chords gives you an idea of how to use them. If you know the word chord spelled with a capital “C”, then you will know what to do with it.
D is for Disco
Let’s look at some other letters of the musical alphabet! The next letter is definitely not an easy one to spell, but it does give us something interesting to think about. This letter is called ‘Disco’.
Many people associate disco music with the 1980’s, a time when there was truly nothing else like it. Disco sounds made use of steady bass lines, catchy melodies, and lots of percussion.
Music producers incorporated these elements into many different styles, making it hard to tell what genre each song belongs to. For this reason, most people consider disco to be just another style of music.
E is for Exercise
Let’s look at the letter e, which means exercise! There are several ways to learn how to play the piano using the musical alphabet. One of these is through music theory, such as learning about notes and intervals.
But there is another way to use the musical alphabet to help you get familiar with the piano quickly. This method uses the letters of the musical alphabet to teach you the names of certain types of exercises. You can then choose to practice them either slowly or rapidly depending on your personal timing.
This article will talk more about this type of exercise called scales. Scales are an integral part of playing the piano. They go well beyond just teaching you the name of every note on the keyboard!
Scales help you become familiar with the instrument by going up and down according to the key of a song. For example, if you were to listen to a song in A major, the first scale that would be played after the initial chord would be the A natural minor scale.
You see, when songs contain chords, they usually begin with a tonic (or root) note. The tonic is typically the A note of the A major scale, so it makes sense to start from there. Then, the musician moves upward one step on each succeeding measure, moving away from the tonic. This process is repeated until all twelve tones have been covered.
F is for Fun
Let’s look at some fun letter combinations! What are some of your favorite musical letters? As you read, try to recognize them and say out loud what song contains each one.
I know I mentioned earlier that music makes us feel things, but let’t show how smart we are by figuring out which ones make you feel happy, excited, or even playful.
The first two songs here both contain the word FUN! So let’s take a closer look at those lyrics.
The first verse of the second song says: “You got me dancing all night/ We keep getting higher and higher”. The word in this case is HIGH.
So why not learn more about high notes and other terms related to singing with our New Terms series? You can find those lessons HERE.
G is for Gucci
The next letter of the musical alphabet is also considered to be the most difficult to identify, let alone write! This letter represents the first half of a couple steps that make up what we know as the chord.
A chord is an arrangement of notes used to create music. Most songs are made using at least one chord (the root note) and many have several chords. For example, the song “Happy Birthday” has two chords, the first one containing the root note A and the second one B-flat.
The first chord in this song both starts and ends with the root note A, making it a tri-tone or three pitch degree drop. That means there are three pitches that decrease by one tone per step. These three tones are called the tritone, octave lower, and major third.
The second chord contains only one pitch, the flat fifth, which is a one tone drop from the tonic or root note. This makes it a di-tone or two pitch degree drop. Both these intervals are very rare and beautiful sounds that add depth and complexity to the song.
Knowing how to read music can help you learn the structure and flow of songs, but writing out all the chord names is not the best way to learn them. Instead, use the chart below to look up the name of any given interval and find the corresponding letter.
H is for Hobbies
Let’s take a look at some of the most well-known hobbies that use music as part of their foundation. These types of hobbies include listening to music, singing, playing an instrument, and dancing. All of these require you to be familiar with certain songs or pieces, and then you have to learn how to do it!
For example, if you are trying to learn how to sing, you need to know what notes go into your song. The same goes for learning to play an instrument. For musicians, knowing the basics of a particular instrument can help them get started.
And for dancers? Learning the steps to a new dance move or theory about dance styles helps you become more skilled in the art!
There are many ways to learn this kind of literacy — you can either teach yourself through YouTube videos and practice exercises, or you could join a local organization or school program that covers these things.
I is for Ice Cream
The letter ‘I’ has three different sounds that use the same spelling. They are as follows:
The first is the sound made when pronouncing the word eye, such as the way you would say tea or table. This is called the voiced bilabial fricative (BBF) sound.
The second is the sound made when saying lye, like when telling someone to try washing clothes with cold water. This is the unvoiced labiodental fricative (LDF) sound.
The third is the sound made when saying ice cream, which is the dental plosive (DP).
There are two reasons why this distinction is important. First, it helps determine how each of these sounds is spelled. For example, the voiceless bafthalide fricatives (VBF) are not used to make any real phonetic sounds, so they do not have a separate name. Therefore, there is only one VBF sound, but it is spelt differently depending on whether it is BBF, LDF, or DP.
Second, it tells us something about the origin of the letter ‘i’. Because the English language does not have an R-sound, we lose information when writing the sound out.
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.
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