What Are The Notes In The Musical Alphabet?Posted by Mike Schumacher
The notes of music make up what we refer to as its alphabet. These are the sounds that make up melodies, riffs, and songs. They’re also referred to as tones or semitones.
The way most people learn this musical alphabet is by learning individual notes first and then moving onto combinations of notes. For example, you would start with the note A and play it once, then B twice, and so on until your song has used all 12 notes!
That’s how most people begin their journeys as musicians, but there’s another way. Rather than starting with the whole alphabet, why not break down the alphabet into two parts? One part that starts out easy and moves towards harder pieces, and the other that goes from hard to soft?
In this article, I will go over both types of alphabets, what they mean for aspiring musicians, and some examples.
B is for Butterfly
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Let’s look at the letter B! The second note of the musical alphabet is the bass or base tone, which we use to create our first chord. In this case, we will be using an A-Minor Chord. To play the Bass, simply press down with your index finger on the string next to the middle one (the third). Then move up the other two strings, both of which have a higher pitch than the third, until you reach the top.
Now, while holding all three notes, raise the middle string past the others, ending with your third finger. This creates the effect of a lower pitched note that drops out. When music has lots of chords with basses, there are professionals who refer to these as power chords.
To fully understand how to read music, including major and minor scales, rhythm patterns, and modes, is beyond the scope of this article, but I would recommend looking into them! They are definitely interesting concepts if you are really passionate about music.
C is for Cocktail
Let’s look at some notes in the musical alphabet! The first one we will look at is probably the most familiar to music lovers – the note A, which is also known as the octave (pronounced “oh-chaft”). An octave is like the key of a piano where you have eight white keys and a black key that goes with each one.
The musician would play the octave many times throughout their life. If they wanted to test this out, they could pick any pitch and press down on the corresponding white key on the keyboard to see how high or low it is. This was done because there are eight possible degrees of every tone, and therefore eight different heights an octave can be raised or lowered to.
If you remember from our chapter about intervals, the perfect fifth is two tones separated by a half step so that they form a higher number. A major third is three tones separated by a whole step, so it becomes a lower number. Therefore, the perfect fourth is four tones separated by a minor third, making it a very close second.
This means that the perfect fourth is just one full step away from a major third. To make things even more interesting, the next interval after the perfect fourth is the tritone, or what musicians refer to as the devil’s chord, due to its extremely bad sound quality.
D is for Diamond
Let’s look at our musical alphabet letter D, which stands for diamond. A diamond is a very beautiful solid piece of material that comes in many shapes and sizes. It is considered to be the best type of gemstone because it is extremely hard and strong.
A diamond can be large or small, depending on how much space it has to grow within. This makes them very valuable since they are dependable and not likely to break down.
When someone wants to call attention to themselves or their loved ones, they sometimes put a diamond necklace into use. These necklaces usually have a pendant attached to the diamond, making it easy to access the diamond (you just take off the cover).
The person wearing the necklace loves this stone so they want to show off its beauty by putting it in public view. Because diamonds are such a popular gemstone, people know what kind of quality it has! If you love dancing, then you are already familiar with the diamond as it looks like a circle when drawn out. That shape is called a ring and it is the most common way to wear a diamond.
E is for Eggplant
In music, an ascending scale starts with the note one step higher than the one it descends from. The first full ascending major scale you learned was G-D-A-G-F#-E-Dm-G-B-. This notes are called octaves and there’s a reason they’re referred to as that!
You see, when a musician wants to call attention to a particular pitch, she or he will add an eggplant (also known as a flattened) tone next to it. A natural eggshell contains two tones, one high and one low, which makes them perfect candidates for this.
The highest of these is the second in order, which we refer to as the tonic. When musicians use the word “tonic,” they mean the initial, most important note of a song. For example, if the song you are listening to begins with the note F, then the F in the term “tonic” refers to the F at the beginning of the song.
This way, the term “tonic” always points back to the initial note of the song. Technically speaking, the terms “ascending” and “descending” aren’t entirely accurate here because the B doesn’t descend away from anything else but instead ascends one more interval.
F is for Floppy Disk
Let’s look at our musical alphabet once again, but this time we will focus more on how to pronounce each letter. For example, the first letter of the word fluid is FLUID!
To help you say these phonetically, I will include the sound of each letter along with the language context and the IPA (International Phonetic Alphabet) pronunciation. The IPA is an organization that creates standardized sounds or phonetics for languages so that people can compare them and know what they mean.
Remember, just because there isn’t a standard way to speak something doesn’t make it wrong! Many things have their own unique way of speaking that everyone has adopted as “correct.” We all learn different styles of talking and using spoken English changes from person to person.
I hope you enjoyed this article about the music theory concept of the musical alphabet. If you had trouble understanding any part of this lesson, feel free to watch one of my YouTube videos where I go over the concepts in depth.
G is for Gold
In musical terms, the note G stands for “golden” or “glittering.” When you hear this golden tone sound, it can be coming from many sources, including guitar strings, piano keys, singing voice, or any other instrument.
When musicians use the word “metal” to describe something, they are referring to how heavy the item is. A metal song with a very short melody and rhythm may have a ton of gold in it! (Think about it–the music doesn’t stick around long enough to really add value.)
A lot of songs contain small bits and pieces that combine into one big effect when listened to as a whole.
H is for Honey
Let’s look at some notes in the musical alphabet! The first letter of the music theory alphabet is actually “H,” which stands for honey.
A little bit about honey before we move onto other types. When writing an essay or article, you need to use a good source of information. Make sure your sources are reliable and full of knowledge.
This can be a difficult task as not every source of information is honest or truthful. It can also go against their style to write quality content so it may be hard to find something that fits what they have written before.
That is why there are lots of sites with free song lyrics. These can give you great insights into how the writer wrote certain songs and poetry. You can read them and see if they make sense to you and relate to yourself or others.
Songs with beautiful lyrics that mean more to you will help you feel better after reading them. There are many resources available online where you can get these lyrics for free.
I is for Ink
The next letter of the musical alphabet is called i, which stands for ink. When writing a song or piece of music, there are some formal rules that you must know about lyrics and melodies.
The first thing to remember about lyrics is they should be written very close to each other side by side. This way, it does not matter if someone cannot read the words because they are not visible enough.
When writing a melody, your notes can either be natural (where the tone drops) or flat (no tonal drop).
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