How Many Letters Make Up The Music Alphabet?Posted by Mike Schuck
Let’s take a look at some music alphabet letters! The music alphabet is a way to describe songs by what letter they contain, how many notes in each song, and which note or chord is used to make a song “feel good.”
There are eight such letters here, so let’s dive into them one by one!
The first two letters of the music alphabet are actually dashes – hyphen and underscore, respectively. These both refer to the famous di-chord (also called a suspended chord) that contains no tonic or mediant but instead moves onto the dominant as its next chord.
A di-chord containing the major third can be thought of as moving from the minor triad to the fully borrowed major tone. A di-chord with the perfect fourth can be thought of as moving from the diminished seventh back up to the augmented sixth. Both of these chords have their own name too – major second and tritone, respectively.
These two letters work best when there are only two chords in a sequence, making them very effective for describing songs that go directly from an intro section to a coda (or conclusion). For example, if you wanted to tell people that a song has a short bridge followed by a long outro, then use the di-chords mentioned above!
Another place where this works well is telling people what key a song is in.
D is for drums
The next letter of the music alphabet is definitely not what you would expect to find! While some may consider bass to be a fundamental part of music, it does not have an explicit letter in the music alphabet.
The second most important element of music that doesn’t get its own letter is actually drumming! Drums are one of the most prominent instruments used in music today, making them one of the most essential parts of music.
Drum beats make up the backbone of many types of music — from hip-hop to house to techno and beyond.
R is for rapping
In music, the letter of the word rap comes right after the r in rapping. As you already know, the lyrics of a song are an integral part of the song’s melody and structure. When writing your own songs, you can pick any number of words to make up the lyrics — it does not have to be a full sentence or even a complete thought.
Some musicians use poetics as their lyrics. Poetry is made of rhyme and rhythm, so using rhymes and rhythms when creating lyrics is another way to add some complexity to your songwriting.
Music has many different styles, so choosing which style your song should belong to is important too! There are several types of music that do not include written lyrics, like instrumental pieces and pure vocal tracks.
P is for piano
The next letter of the music alphabet is something that many people are not familiar with but it plays an important role in how well you play your instrument!
The first few letters of the music alphabet refer to what kind of instruments there are. For example, the D note is called the flute tone because it sounds like a flute.
The A note is referred to as the violin tone due to its similar sound quality. You will also hear this sounded as the violin notes or just violin if it is talking about both voice and instrument.
Next we have the G sharp or guitar tone which some call the guitar drop. This one makes more sense when you listen to it because the chord built off of this tone has a descending bass line.
After that we have the C major (or concert) tone which looks like a middle name sometimes! This one rings true sounding chords such as the ones mentioned above. It can be easily found by adding the B natural to make the C minor tone and then add the A to make the C major tone.
Finally, the F# or flute/oboe tone is very interesting to learn! As you may know, flutes have holes that they use to produce different tones, thus the name. This one produces a really cool low pitched noise which some say resembles birdsong.
B is for bass
The next letter of the music alphabet is b! The bass line is one of the most important parts of any song, as it can be either an accompaniment to another instrument or the main element that carries the melody and lyrics.
The term “bass” can mean different things to different people. Some may only know the word “bass” because they learned it in high school band class when everyone had their own part. Others may associate the bass with rhythm, like having a steady foot stomping downbeat. There are even some who consider the low note at the beginning of a song to be the bass! (That would definitely not make the song sound good.)
Regardless of what kind of bass you want to play, there are several notes that count as the base of the bass. These include A, G, F, and C. An example of this would be if the bassline was written using all four of these pitches – then it would be called a quartal bass.
U is for violin
The next letter of the music alphabet is u, which stands for violin. A violin is a string instrument that comes in many different sizes and shapes. It is not until you hold one that you realize just how big some violins can be!
Violinists typically use both hands to play their instruments. One hand holds the bow, or strum stick, while the other manipulates the strings.
Some positions require holding the violin at an angle so that only certain strings are accessible. At this angled position, the musician places his or her thumb over the top ridge where the neck meets the body. This allows them to press down on the string effectively without having it touch the belly button area of the finger board.
The bassist or guitarist may also need to access higher pitched strings by moving the head of the violin up or down. This is done using a tool called a goose-neck clamp, which has pivoting handles.
T is for trumpet
The next letter in the music alphabet is trumpet, or t as it’s commonly referred to. Technically speaking, the word “trumpet” refers only to instruments that use air to produce sound. But since we’re talking about musical notes here, we will use the term broadly and refer to any instrument with a horn-like shape that can be blown at varying pressures (similar to how you would blow into a brass instrument like a tuba) as a trumpet.
Like other brass instruments, the trumpet has five positions of note where it can be played. Like A above high G, these are known as the first position, second position, third position, fourth position, and fifth position. And just like with the rest of the letters in the music alphabet, there are three steps to play each position on the trumpet.
Step one: Breathe
You have to breathe before playing an instrument! This isn’t always easy when practicing guitar, but it’s important to do so while working through the music alphabet. Your lungs need to work to get enough oxygen to help fuel muscle tone, which helps your hands move more fluidly. For this reason, practice should include some short breaks every few minutes. You can take a break between the different positions of a given chord, or even after whole chords if you’d like.
Blow hard for a couple seconds, then take a small break.
Z is for guitar
Let’s look at some letters of the music alphabet! We will be focusing on what position each letter holds in the musical scale, as well as how to play them on your hands.
The first three letters of the music alphabet are G, D, and A. They are referred to as the open strings or starting notes of the instrument. To play these strings, simply take a hold of the string with your index finger and press down gently. Then lift up just enough so that you can play the second note of the string, which has a shorter length than the top one. Continue this pattern until all three strings have been played.
By now you should be able to make some pretty solid chords using only those three strings! (If you cannot, try practicing the chord structure more slowly.)
That is the basics of playing the guitar's open strings. Now let us move onto the next part of the music alphabet: The middle five letters.
I-IV-V Chord Structure
In order to create most major, minor, and harmonic progressions, we must know what an ivaivle chord is. An ivaivle chord is made up of the interval between two adjacent tones (think: tone, half tone). These intervals are called steps. For example, the interval between two adjacent notes is a step; the gap between two numbers is not a step, but a whole tone.
Q is for drums
The next letter in the music alphabet is also one of the most important. You probably know what the bass note is, as it is typically referred to as the base or root of the song. This does not mean that just because there is a low pitch being sounded then we call this the bass though!
The term “bass” actually refers to any lower pitched sound. It can be determined by looking at the notes around it and how many times they are repeated. A very common way to identify the bass is by the rhythm pattern used to play it. For example, when playing the bass drop (also known as the dropsonbeat), every other beat has a rest marker where no foot is placed. This creates a steady pulsing effect which some people associate with the bass.
Another way to recognize the bass is by its length. Since it is usually the longest part of the chord, it will take up the majority of the time span for the chord.
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