An alphabet song is any nursery rhyme that teaches children how to recite the alphabet. There are many alphabet songs, but the most famous is the ABC song. Although thought to be the only Alphabet song, the ABC song is an alphabet song.
Children sing the alphabet song by reciting all the letters of the alphabet in the correct order from the first to the last one. Therefore, the Alphabet song is a vital nursery rhyme in teaching children language.
Since the ABC song is the most famous of all alphabet songs, let’s see all it entails and its history.
WHAT ARE THE LYRICS FOR THE ALPHABET SONG?
The song lyrics are recited to the tune and melody of Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star
A, B, C, D, E, F, G
H, I, J, K, L, M, N, O, P (L, M, N, O, P are recited faster than the other letters)
Q, R, S, /T, U, V (there’s a slight pause between S and T)
W, X, Y, and Z (slight breaks in between W and X and X and Y)
Now I know my ABCs
Next time, won’t you sing with me?
The Alphabet Song Lyrcis Backwards
Sometimes backward versions are sung to ensure children master all the letters even better. Here is how it goes.
i-h-g-f-e-d-c-b-a (E, D, C, and B are recited faster than the other letters)
Now you know your ZYXs
I bet that’s not what you expected!
Acrostic Versions of the ABC song
An acrostic song is where each letter is made to form a word. The alphabet song has several acrostic versions where the letters stand for a word. This aims to make the letters easier to relate to the formation of words.
Here is an example of an Acrostic version of the ABC song by Cocomelon.
THE HISTORY BEHIND THE ALPHABET SONG
Who Came Up with the Alphabet Song?
Unlike other nursery rhymes whose writers have disappeared in the mists of time, the Alphabet or ABC song has a known writer. Boston publisher Charles Bradlee was the first person to publish the ABC song.
Then, he called it “The ABC, a German air with variations for the flute with an easy accompaniment for the piano forte”- quite a mouthful, isn’t it? The song has become known simply as the ABC or the Alphabet song.
Bradlee credited the musical arrangement to 18th-century composer Louis Le Marie.
The song used a tune based on Mozart’s composition, ah, vous dirai-je, maman (French for Oh what will I tell your mama), which itself was based on an anonymous 1740 pastoral song.
Without even knowing it, the original Alphabet song is an amalgamation of the musical work of three different people. From the original composer of Mozart’s tune to the 18th-century composer Le Marie to Bradlee himself.
Did Mozart Create the Tune for the ABC Song?
Mozart didn’t come up with the tune. He only wrote variations of the tune. The tune appears in the nursery rhymes “Baa Baa Black Sheep and Twinkle Twinkle Little Star.”
There isn’t a record of the original composer of the tunes Mozart made variations of. Mozart was around 25 years old when he developed the variations around 1780.
What Songs Sound the Same as The Alphabet Song?
The Alphabet song follows the same tune as Twinkle Twinkle Little Star and Baa Baa Black Sheep. The three rhymes are melodically similar but different in the lyrics and lessons. They only share a tune. The words and the lessons are entirely different.
The tune was probably the easiest to use to preserve the arrangement of the letters in the Alphabet. Try singing the ABC song in any other tune if you doubt that and see how difficult that may be.
What’s the Purpose of the Alphabet Song?
Besides entertaining children, the alphabet song teaches children the alphabet. The alphabet is a fundamental part of English and other global languages.
Therefore, the alphabet song is critical to children learning to read and write. It teaches children the various sounds attached to each letter of the alphabet. It thus plays a crucial role in the children’s learning how to speak a particular language.
That perhaps explains why the ABC song is one of the most famous songs sung by adults and children alike. Even some people have to recite the famous song to remember the order of words of the alphabet.
But then everyone needs mnemonics to remember some written things. Songs make the brain remember things faster than memorizing the words independently. Therefore, the alphabet song isn’t a song for children only.
INTERESTING FACTS AND QUESTIONS ANSWERED!
Were the Letters of the Alphabet Rearranged to fit into the Alphabet song?
Considering how smoothly the letters slide off the tongue when singing the ABC song, someone might think the letters were rearranged to fit the tune. That isn’t true. The arrangement of the letter of the alphabet has been the same since time immemorial.
There is no explanation for how the letters came to be arranged that way. Therefore, the format has persisted through centuries and permeated most world languages.
As the building blocks of many languages, the letters keep the format in wildly different global languages.
Are There Alphabet Songs for Other Languages?
Although English is one of the most widely spoken languages, it is worth noting that there are ABC songs in other languages as well. The alphabet is the building block of all letters in different global languages.
It, therefore, makes sense for different languages to make use of the Alphabet song as well. But since they have their writing style, the Alphabet song doesn’t resemble the English version to a tee.
It instead takes only the tune and melody. Take the example of the French version of the ABC.
The letters are the same, but the pronunciation is quite different from what you hear when you pronounce the letters of the alphabet in English. Predictably, the tune remains the same. That French version is also taught to children in Canada.
The Hebrew, the Chinese, Hungarians, Japanese, and Koreans also have their versions of the Alphabet song. A Haka mana is a Māori alphabet song that follows the tune of the song stupid cupid.
You can see that the alphabet song is not unique to English-speaking countries.
Is Letter Z Pronounced Zee or Zed?
We know that the alphabet song has many variations in English and other languages. But have you heard a version that pronounces the letter z as zee? Depending on where you come from, the pronunciation of the letter will vary.
Understandably, this might confuse some people who pronounce the letter as zed and not zee. The UK, Australia, and Canada pronounce the letter Z as zed. Zee is the American pronunciation of the letter Z.
That is why you are likely to come across versions of the ABC song that finish with zed or zee. That shouldn’t worry you too much since it’s just different pronunciation for one letter.
Why Are Letters LMNOP Recited Faster?
When singing most versions of the ABC song, you notice that the letters LMNOP might sound something like elemenope. After singing the song for some time, children might think that the letters are one word: elemenope.
However, teachers can guide the children to know it isn’t one word. When you recite the letters fast, it comes out as elemonope. Since the song has remained the same for a long time, few versions attempt to change how that part is recited.
In 2019, Twitter was in an uproar after a user uploaded a version of the ABC song with the LMNOP part clarified so as you didn’t need to recite it faster. Most people think the ABC song should be left as it was.
Which Came First: ABC Song or Baa Baa Black Sheep and Twinkle?
The ABC song was first published in 1835. Twinkle was first published in 1838 despite its words being around since 1806 as “The Star.” So, the ABC song predates Twinkle.
Baa’s words were first documented in a 1744 book, Tommy Thumbs Pretty Song Book. However, the lyrics and melody were only added to the words, making it whole in 1879. That makes the ABC song the first of the three songs with a shared melody.
Is the Alphabet Song in The Public Domain?
Since the first copyrighted version of the ABC song was way back in 1835, it is available publicly. All historical music recorded or written before 1925 is free to use in public. Therefore, you can use the music, and the lyrics of the Alphabet song as you so wish.
What you can’t do, however, is use someone else’s recording of the song without their permission. The copyright, in this case, is of their performance but not the lyrics or the melody. It’s also not their song, after all.
However, laws vary, and you should check with the copyright laws in your local area before using the song.
THE ALPHABET SONG INSPIRED LESSON PLANS
The following is a selection of Lesson Plans. You need to click on the images to learn more and download the resources from their websites.
What Time Signature is The Alphabet Song?
The Alphabet song follows the 2/4-time signature, the same as Twinkle Twinkle Little Star. That’s not much of a surprise since the two songs share a melody and tune.
It also means the 4/4-time signature also works for the alphabet song as it does for Twinkle.
How do You Sing the Alphabet Song in Sign Language?
You can sing the Alphabet song with sign language. Check the below resource from YouTube that includes some common words for each letter of the alphabet.
HOW DO YOU PLAY THE ALPHABET SONG ON AN INSTRUMENT?
You can have fun playing the Alphabet song on several instruments. Here are some resources from YouTube to make that easy for you.