What Notes Are In The Musical Alphabet?Posted by Mike Schumacher
Notes are one of the most important parts of music. They play an integral part in creating songs, listening to music, and understanding what music is about. There are many types of notes that we identify as being the same style, but they all contribute something unique to music.
This article will discuss some of the different note shapes, their styles, and how to play them! So, let’s get started by looking at some basic beginner notes.
B is for bat
Another note that many musicians use are called the bat or b flat. This one has some funny names, like ‘buzz’ tone or ‘wobble’ tone. It is usually notated as an open bass string with a nail (or dot) attached to it. When pressed down, the pitch raises slightly and when lifted up, the pitch lowers slightly.
The term ‘bat’ comes from the Italian word battere which means to hit. The musician uses this note to create a rhythm by hitting it every other measure. For example, if your music contains a meter pattern of 4/4 time, then you would want to add the bat in each quarter-note space.
When adding the bat into a melody, make sure to proportionally increase the length of the notes. For instance, if the song has an A tonal root, then add the bat just below the A natural second degree (A#).
C is for cat
The next note up is the famous “C” sound, which we refer to as the cardinal pitch or cardinal tone. This is typically referred to as the first degree of the diatonic scale, and is usually written as a sharp (or raised) natural second.
The term “diatonic” comes from the Greek word diazo, meaning “of opposite nature.” Therefore, this type of scale has no flat notes. All of the notes are either rising or falling by one half step.
So what does that mean? Well, if you look at the A major chord, it contains an interval of a third. That means when you add a third above the root, you get a perfect fifth. And since the caturine voice begins with the perfect fifth, the caturine tone is the perfect fifth!
This also applies to the G minor chord, where the third is a suspended fourth. To play the ceturine voice starting on the suspended fourth, use the sus2 trill technique on the g# string. You can read more about that here.
A few things about the caturine tone/perfect fifth:
There are two types depending on whether people pronounce the final -e like the English word “see” or like the French word “duh.” We will go into detail about that later in the article.
D is for dog
Let’s look at some notes! The first one is an A-natural, which looks like this: á-. An A natural is also known as a sharp rising fourth. This note signifies that there is something ascending by fourth degree (a sequence of tones that are each successively higher).
The second one is a G7 flat, which looks like gseh. A G7 flat is also called a flattened seventh chord. It can be thought of as a dominant 7th chord with no root. The third one is a B5, which looks like bfehe. A B5 is also referred to as a half diminished fifth. You may have seen these chords before when we discussed intervals.
Now that you know what all those weird looking notes are, let’s apply them to a song! “What Makes Me Beautiful” is a beautiful ballad sung by Ariana Grande. If you listen carefully, you will hear the main chord used throughout the song is a C major chord followed by a G7 flat. Make sure to check out our article here about how to play the chord structure of this song!
At the end of the verse, the music drops off, creating a dramatic effect.
E is for elephant
The next letter of the musical alphabet is called the flute note. The flute note is what some music theorists refer to as an extended tone. An extended tonal sound or notes are just like normal tones, except they last longer than one second!
The first few notes of most songs use this technique to emphasize the word “elephants”. The ooohs and Aaaahs at the beginning of that song must have made you feel pretty happy every time you listened! (I hope!)
This extended tonality can be done using either your voice or a piece of equipment such as a instrument or a feature on the computer software used to produce music. It is typically not heard separately unless it is very slowly fading away which makes it more reminiscent of a regular tone.
It is important to know how to play a flute note so that you do not lose the effect it creates! If someone does manage to make their ears block out the flute note then you may need to tell them about other sounds in music.
F is for frog
The next note is also an introductory note that contains what are called as introductions or preludes. These are typically short, one-bar statements which set up the main body of a song. In this case, it’s setting up the main theme of the song — the name of the tune!
The first line of the prelude is usually just the word “And” or “I think” or something similar. This is because the rest of the sentence already implied the main idea of the song.
In music theory, a second element is needed to make the two work together. That second element is the appoggiatura. An appoggiatura is a slight drop (or reversal) of tone at the end of a voice part. For example, if the singer was singing a high note, there would be a low notes that drops down by a half step. Or, if the singer was singing a bass note, there would be a higher pitched note with a half step rise.
G is for girl
In music, there are some notes that sound different depending on what key they are sung in. These notes are called modulation.
A note that rises one half step is referred to as an ascending second degree tone (or just second degree). A note that drops a whole step is a descending first degree tone (or sometimes called a flat-one).
When a song contains many instances of these tones, it is called modulating. The most common type of modulation happens when a song changes key. When this occurs, a new set of notes becomes the main theme or voice of the song.
The other notes remain part of the old melody or “voice” of the song. This creates a sense of movement within the song because the parts keep changing.
H is for hat
In musical terms, an instrument that is referred to as a hammer or hahn is called a closed stick. A stick with a head at one end and a handle at the other is a open stick. A tool made of metal that you use to hit things is a mallet.
A close stick can be used to sound notes (like a drum) or to create sounds by hitting another object or element (like a cymbal). The term “stick” refers not only to the body of the instrument but also to the striking surface, which is typically wood. Some hammers have steel wool glued onto the surface, which gives it more strength and consistency when struck.
The most well-known example of a drummer using a hahn is probably someone who has listened to music all their life! That person uses a heavy hahn to strike various instruments, including ones like triangle, cowbell, tambourine, and maracas. These are known as rhythm instruments because they emphasize timing and rhythmic patterns.
Triangle, cowbell, and tambourines usually have three or five balls attached to a frame, while the maraca looks similar to a small hand clap. All three can be used together to make different sounds and contribute unique qualities to your songs.
I is for ice cream
Another note shape that occurs quite a lot are notes called as ‘I’s.’ These are typically short, one-measure notes and usually have a rest placed after them. The most common way to play an i-note is by holding down the index finger of your hand with your other fingers extended, moving it up or down depending on how fast you want the note to be.
The word “ice” is the familiar sound this note gets mapped to in music. An example of an icy bass line can be heard here at around 1:15–1:20: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rQ8b6w0PZJk. This song uses several different instances of the i-note pattern which makes it easy to recognize!
This article will focus more on guitar chords using the open position of the third string (the A string) as the base.
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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