Alphabet song

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"The A.B.C." redirects here. For other similarly named songs, see ABC song (disambiguation). For the U.S. television channel, see American Broadcasting Company. For the Australian television broadcaster, see Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

An alphabet song is any of various songs used to teach children an alphabet, used 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 /ˈkk/, 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.

Contents

The A.B.C. (Verse 1)[edit]

"The A.B.C." /ˌˌbˈs/ or "A.B.C's" /ˌˌbˈsz/ is one of the best-known English language alphabet songs, and perhaps the one most frequently referred to as "the alphabet song", especially in the United States.

Music for the alphabet song including some common variations on the lyrics

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,[1] which also says, "The theme is that used by Mozart for his piano variations, Ah, vous dirai-je, maman."[2] This tune is the same as the tune for "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star".

Lyrics: (each line represents two measures, or eight beats)

A-B-C-D-E-F-G, (/eɪ biː siː diː iː ɛf dʒiː,/)
H-I-J-K-LMNO-P, (/(h)eɪtʃ aɪ dʒeɪ keɪ ɛlɛmɛnoʊ piː,/ l-m-n-o spoken twice as quickly as rest of rhyme)
Q-R-S; T-U-V, (/kjuː ɑr ɛs, tiː juː viː,/ pause between s and t)
W; X; Y and Z! (/dʌbɨjuː, ɛks, waɪ ænd ziː,/ pause between x and y, w and x last for two beats)
Now I know my ABCs; (/naʊ aɪ noʊ maɪ eɪ biː siːz,/)
Next time won't you sing with me? (/nɛkst taɪm woʊnt juː sɪŋ wɪθ miː/).[3]

The last line is sometimes also rendered won't you come and sing with me?.

Zed for Zee[edit]

In the United States, Z is pronounced zee; in most other English-speaking countries[citation needed] 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:

a-b-c-d-e-f-g
h-i-j-k-lmnop
q-r-s
t-u-v
w, x
y and z
Now I know my "ABCs",
Next time won't you sing with me."

In UK (Nursery Rhymes):

a-b-c-d-e-f-g
h-i-j-k-lmnop
q-r-s
t-u-v
w, x
and y and z
Now I know my "ABCs",
Next time won't you sing with me

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:

a-b-c-d-e-f-g
h-i-j-k-lmnop
lmnop-q-r-s-t
u-v-w, x-y-z
x-y-z
Sugar on your bread
Eat it all up
Before you are dead.

Phonics songs[edit]

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.

Acrostic songs[edit]

There are also songs that go through the alphabet, making each letter 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:

A, you're adorable
B, you're so beautiful
C, you're a cutie full of charms
D, you're a darling
And E, you're exciting
And F, you're a feather in my arms
G, you look good to me
H, you're so heavenly
I, you're the one I idolize
J, we're like Jack and Jill
K, you're so kissable
L, is the love light in your eyes
M, N, O, P
I could go on all day
Q, R, S, T
Alphabetically speaking: "You're OK"
U, made my life complete
V, means you're very sweet
W, X, Y, Z
It's fun to wander through the alphabet with you to tell you what you mean to me

Backwards song (Verse 2)[edit]

The group Wee Sing released an alphabet song with the letters in reverse order.[citation needed] It is called ZYXs. It goes as follows:

Z-Y-X-W-V-and-U--
T-and-S-and-R-and-Q--
P-O-N-M-L-K-J--,
I-H-G-F-EDCBA-- (EDCBA said like LMNOP in alphabet song)
Now I know my CBAs
Next time won't you lead the way

Another version ends with "Now I know my ZYXs, let's all go and walk to Texas."

The Canadian children's TV series The Big Comfy Couch used a version of the song in the episode "Backwards".[citation needed]

Comedian Soupy Sales released a song in 1966 called "Backwards Alphabet" which contained the reverse alphabet in lyrical style.[citation needed]

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".

See also[edit]

Traditional alphabet songs in other languages[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Newberry Library catalog
  2. ^ The alphabet song is sometimes said to come from another of Bradlee's publications, "The Schoolmaster", but the first line of that song is given as "Come, come my children, I must see", in Yale University's library catalog. It is described as "a favorite glee for three voices, as sung at the Salem glee club."
  3. ^ "Listen to the song sung" (RealPlayer). Archived from the original on 2007-09-28.