Piano Musical Alphabet

Posted by Mike Schuck

Music is one of the most universal languages in the world. It can be music anyone knows or even makes as they learn how to play, and it does not require speaking any specific language! This is why it is such an incredible tool for learning other languages.

Here at The Language Studio, we believe that everyone should know what some of the major chords are! What is a major chord you ask? Well, it’s simply three notes (or steps) all played with their third degree (third scale degree) tone (or natural note). These include the notes B, D, G, A, E.

The song “Happy Birthday” contains two examples of major chords. Both contain the first degree (root), second degree (mediant), and third degree (dominant) tones mentioned above. To figure out which chords these are, just take your pick between the bass, treble, and tonic notes and determine if each one goes into the root, mediant, or dominant position. You will then have your major chord!

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We recommend practicing each chord twice within a row so you get the hang of it quickly. Once you feel comfortable, try playing through a popular song using only those chords! Many people have been teaching themselves guitar by doing this.

B is for Butterfly

piano musical alphabet

Let’s learn the alphabet song starting with the letter B! This will be easy to do as there are only two notes in this song, one note twice. The first note is the bass and the second is the treble.

The bass is an octave lower than our previous key of G and the treble is an octave higher than our last key of A. Therefore, the piano version of the B anthem is played at the same pitch as E flat major (the natural minor mode of F).

C is for Cat

piano musical alphabet

The next letter of the piano musical alphabet is also the name of a music note, but it does not sound like a note. It sounds more like a meowing or purring noise that goes up in frequency as it gets louder. This tone is called a crescendo.

The term comes from Italian word _crescare_, which means to grow bigger or higher. In this case, it refers to getting longer and faster as the voice (or instrument) rises in volume.

You will probably have heard this tone before if you are familiar with music. When musicians use this tone, it is usually to create a sense of excitement or urgency. For example, during the closing chords of a song, there is a short moment where everything slows down and the notes rise in intensity.

This kind of music has been used in many styles, including jazz, classical, and rock. Some people even refer to it as the “power chord” because it gives off a strong feeling. Many musicians use it at the end of a piece to promote harmony and silence.

D is for Dog

piano musical alphabet

Let’s review the alphabet song starting with the letter “D.” As you know, this song starts with the word dog and then each letter becomes an example of a different sound. If you are looking to improve your piano skills, then you can start practicing music theory by trying to identify these sounds.

The first sound in the sentence dog is the d-sound, which happens when you roll your tongue down as if to say the word “dog.” The hard G in the next note comes after the d-sound so we have to associate it with the right side of our mouth. When we do this, we make what they call a gliding tone, or a rolling tone.

This kind of chord progression using notes that go up and then back down is very common in Western classical music and jazz. It is called an arpeggio. Arping means moving around quickly or stepping sideways. A guitar technique that uses this rhythm pattern is called finger picking.

E is for Elephant

piano musical alphabet

The first letter of the piano music alphabet is the most important one as it sets up the rest of the song! If you know the opening notes to an elephant sound, like the tritone (ii-IV) or major second (do-re), then you can start writing your new piano piece using those chords!

To make this work, however, you have to change the key. In this case, we will go from D minor to A natural major. This is because the chord that starts the elephant sound is the dominant seventh in D minor, which does not naturally move into the target key.

By changing the key, the harmony changes also, making the poem more interesting to read! To prove this, try reading the poem starting with the chord Bbm in each line instead of just relying on the initial note in the verse.

F is for Frog

piano musical alphabet

The frog chord, also known as the harmonic series or octave-third scale, was one of the most famous chords in music theory. It’s actually not a true chord at all!

It doesn’t contain any notes that are an exact integer ratio (1:2), nor does it have to be fully silence. A very short rest note can be inserted between some of the tones, making it hard to identify which tone is which.

This makes the frog chord difficult to play correctly, and even more confusing to listen to! If you ever hear someone playing this chord, chances are they don’t really know what they’re doing yet.

G is for Goose

The first letter of the piano musical alphabet is also one of the most recognizable notes in music. If you ever watch a concert or movie with someone playing the keyboard, there’s a good chance they will play an ascending major third scale (or sometimes called a goose-goose-gamelop pattern).

That note happens to be the famous gliding tone that we refer to as the g#. Many musicians use this pitch frequently in songs and pieces!

The next chord in the song may contain the g# as either the highest or lowest pitched note depending on which part of the chord it lands in. For example, if the bass plays the root note of A then the next higher note would be the natural second degree of B.

H is for House

piano musical alphabet

The house key is the most fundamental chord in piano music. It can be anything from a half-keyboard (one hand only) to whole keyboard (both hands). Almost every song contains at least one measure with the house key!

The term “house” comes from musicians referring to this key as the home base, or starting place, of the music they are writing. Because it appears in so many songs, there are several different versions of the house key. This article will discuss two popular ones: G major and A minor.

If you look up these keys on your computer or phone using an app, you may find them labeled as either natural or fake. Natural means without any accidental notes next to it. Fake means that there are no sharps or flats next to it. These types of labels do not matter when learning the house key, but it does help determine which version of the house key we want to use.

Which one should you pick? That depends on what note category the music already has. If there are some treble notes (high notes), then choose a naturally rising scale like the g# major scale. For bass notes (low notes), choose a descending scale such as b# sharped minor.

I is for Ice cream

piano musical alphabet

Let’s begin with the letter “I”! The first note of the piano musical alphabet is the sound ice cream.

To play this note, press the right hand fingernail down on the middle finger tip (just like when you would tap your foot as rhythm). Then lift up the index finger to touch the side of the thumb at a very slow rate (like pouring milk over cereal).

This technique is called an appoggiatura, which means dropping something in place of another tone that sounds good. In our case, we are replacing the tonic (the highest pitch) with the lollipop (the lowest pitched) so it creates a harmonic suspension or rest.

We can also add reverberation to make the notes ring longer.

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