Wednesday, April 6, 2005

Apple #56: The Alphabet Song


Here's the burning question: where did the alphabet song come from?

I thought maybe Sesame Street, but it's way older than that.
  • First copyrighted by C. Bradlee from Boston in 1834.
  • Originally titled "The Schoolmaster."
  • Uses the same melody as a French song called Ah! Vous dirais-je, Maman, ("Ah, I would say to you, Mama").
  • Many people attribute this melody to Mozart, but it was actually first written down by a man named M. Bouin, in 1761. Music history suggests that this song existed in the culture even before that.
  • Mozart did compose several variations on this song in the 1780's. Haydn used the melody, too, in the second movement of his "Surprise" symphony. It also appeared in several popular songs in the late 1700's and 1800's.
  • This melody is also the same as "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star."
  • Which is also the same melody as "Baa Baa Black Sheep."

All these years and I never noticed those songs were the same.

The Straight Dope,
"Who wrote the melody to the alphabet song?" entry on the
Alphabet Song (references Wikipedia),
Mozart variations

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