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An alphabet song is any of various songs used to teach children an alphabet, used in kindergartens, pre-schools and homes around the world. Alphabet songs typically follow the alphabetic principle (though the phonics method offers variants). In languages such as English with morphophonemic variation (e.g. "cake" is //, not [ˈkaːkɛ]), an alphabet song usually chooses a particular pronunciation for each letter in the alphabet and also typically for some words in the song.
Tune for Alphabet song
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The song was first copyrighted in 1835 by the Boston-based music publisher Charles Bradlee, and given the title "The A.B.C., a German air with variations for the flute with an easy accompaniment for the piano forte". The musical arrangement was attributed to Louis Le Maire (sometimes Lemaire), an 18th-century composer. This was "Entered according to act of Congress, in the year 1835, by C. Bradlee, in the clerk's office of the District Court of Massachusetts", according to the Newberry Library, which also says, "The theme is that used by Mozart for his piano variations, Ah, vous dirai-je, maman." This tune is the same as the tune for "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star" and "Baa, Baa, Black Sheep".
Lyrics: (each line represents two measures, or eight beats)
In the United States, Z is pronounced zee; in most other English-speaking countries it is pronounced zed. Generally, the absent zee-rhyme is not missed, although some children use a zee pronunciation in the rhyme which they would not use elsewhere. Variants of the song exist to accommodate the zed pronunciation. One variation shortens the second line and lengthens the last, to form a near-rhyme between N and zed:
In UK (Nursery Rhymes):
Other variants make significantly more changes in order to rhyme with zed, and even alter the rest of the song to fit a new rhythm. For example:
Because the English language has 40 sounds and only 26 letters, children and beginning readers also need to learn the different sounds (phonemes) associated with each letter. Many songs have been written to teach phonemic awareness and they are usually referred to as alphabet songs.
There are also songs that go through the alphabet, making some of the letters stand for something in the process. An example was recorded in 1948, by Buddy Kaye, Fred Wise, Sidney Lippman, and later Perry Como, called A, You're Adorable (also known as "The Alphabet Love Song"):
Another version ends with "Now I know my ZYXs, let's all go and walk to Texas."
In the opening scene of the 1992 episode of Martin, Martin sings the song in the dark radio station in season 1's "Dead Men Don't Flush".