I love Maurice Durufle's Prelude and Fugue on the name ALAIN, but I don't understand the mapping of the name "A-L-A-I-N" to the musical notes "A-D-A-A-F". Various websites such as https://www.allmusic.com/composition/prelude-and-fugue-on-the-name-alain-for-organ-op-7-mc0002363275 simply say that Durufle found an 'equivalent' for ALAIN in these notes. But I would like to understand the actual mapping, e.g. how Durufle came up with 'L' for the musical note 'D'.

2 Answers 2


It's a bit contrived, unlike BACH! To make it work, it needs ABCDEFGH, as used by German musos. If you write out ABCDEFGHABCDEFGH, and count letters further on than the first 8, you'll come to corresponding 'proper' note names, which are the ones used. It wouldn't work without the 'H'. Several other composers have used their own names as motifs, with greater (and lesser!) success.

  • Thank you! - I tried the basic abcdefg and repeating and obviously it didn't work. I've done Liszt's BACH before but didn't stop to think that the H may be a common European standard. Good explanation
    – William M.
    Commented Jul 4, 2022 at 18:45

The mapping simply follows a restart of the cycle from the next immediate letter I:

A - H (Duruflé) -> A - H (notes)
Then I,J,K,L,M,N (Duruflé) -> A,B,C,D,E,F (notes)

Giving Duruflé's L matching note D, Duruflé's I matching note A and Duruflé's N matching note F.

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