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Alphabet song

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Title: Alphabet song  
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Subject: Melodic learning, Early childhood education, Danish orthography, Shiva Sutras, Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star
Collection: Children's Songs, Early Childhood Education
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Alphabet song

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


  • The A.B.C. (Verse 1) 1
    • Zed for Zee 1.1
  • Phonics songs 2
  • Acrostic songs 3
  • Backwards song (Verse 2) 4
  • See also 5
    • Traditional alphabet songs in other languages 5.1
  • References 6

The A.B.C. (Verse 1)

"The A.B.C." or "A.B.Cs" 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
Tune for Alphabet song

Problems playing this file? See .

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" and "Baa, Baa, Black Sheep".

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, L, M, N, O, P... (/(h)eɪtʃ aɪ dʒeɪ keɪ ɛlɛmɛnoʊ piː,/ "l, m, n, o," spoken twice as quickly as rest of rhyme)
Q, R, S.../ and T, U, V... (/kjuː ɑr ɛs, tiː juː viː,/ pause between s and t)
W... X.../ and Y and/& Z. (/dʌbɨ(l)juː, ɛks, waɪ ænd ziː,/ pause between x 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]

Zed for Zee

In the United States, Z is pronounced zee; in most other English-speaking countries (such as Canada, UK and Australia) 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:

Alternate Zed Version:


Another alternate Zed version:

a-b-c, d-e-f
n-o-p, q-r-s

Phonics songs

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

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"):

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)

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

I-H-G-F-EDCBA-- (EDCBA said like LMNOP in original 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".

Comedian Soupy Sales released a song in 1966 called "Backwards Alphabet" which contained the reverse alphabet in lyrical style. The original version of the song was peformed by actress Judi Rolin with The Smothers Brothers in the 1966 teleplay adaptation of Alice Through the Looking Glass.

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

Traditional alphabet songs in other languages


  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. ^
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