Lesson 1

Discovering SQL and Taylor Swift's Discography - Your First Database Query

Welcome to Databases and SQL

Hello, and welcome to the magical world of databases and SQL!

First off, what is a database? A database is like a huge, digital filing cabinet where you can store, manage, and retrieve data. In this course, we'll focus on a specific type of database known as a relational database. A relational database stores data in tables, much like how an Excel file has different sheets for different sets of data.

Now, SQL, which stands for Structured Query Language, is the standard language used to interact with these databases. Think of it as a toolbox for managing and manipulating data. Whether you want to find a specific piece of data, update it, delete it, or create a new one, SQL is your go-to resource.

Your Dataset - Taylor Swift's Music

To make our data journey engaging, we're using a unique dataset - tables that feature Taylor Swift's discography. For now, let's focus on one table: Albums. Here's a sneak peek at a sample of the Albums table.

11989 (Taylor's Version) [Deluxe]2023-10-27
21989 (Taylor's Version)2023-10-26
3Speak Now (Taylor's Version)2023-07-07
4Midnights (The Til Dawn Edition)2023-05-26
5Midnights (3am Edition)2022-10-22

This table provides a clear understanding of Taylor Swift's album history, all brought to life by SQL.

SQL and Its Tools - Introduction to MySQL

The tool we're going to use in these lessons is MySQL. While there are multiple database management systems that use SQL, such as PostgreSQL and SQLite, MySQL is a well-established, flexible tool. That's why we've chosen it to kickstart our SQL journey.

Additionally, MySQL's widespread use and supportive community make it an excellent starting point for beginners, ensuring you can find help and resources easily as you learn.

Writing Your First Query in SQL

It's time to roll up our sleeves and delve into our first SQL command: SHOW TABLES;. What does this command do? Simply put, it presents a list of all the tables in our dataset, much like asking our digital filing cabinet for a list of all its drawers.


When we run this command in a MySQL environment, we will see a result like this:

Plain text
1albums 2songfeatures 3songs

What we've done here is ask the database to list all of its tables - a request to which it graciously complied!

Understanding SQL Syntax Essentials

Learning SQL syntax effectively is crucial for communicating clearly with databases. Here are some fundamental syntax components to know:

  • Semicolon (;): Serves as the end of a statement, similar to a period in a sentence. Correct usage is crucial for clear command separation. Example: SHOW TABLES;.

  • Comments: Comments are used for adding notes or explanations within your SQL code, which are ignored during execution. SQL supports both single-line and multi-line comments.

    • Single-line comments start with --. The rest of the line after -- is ignored by SQL. For example:

      1-- This command lists all tables 2SHOW TABLES;
    • Multi-line comments are enclosed in /* and */, ignoring everything in between. These are useful for longer explanations or notes. Example:

      1/* 2The following command is used 3to display all tables in the database 4*/ 5SHOW TABLES;

Grasping the use of semicolons for statement demarcation and comments for annotating your SQL scripts ensures your queries are both effective and easily understandable.

Getting to Know a Table - Viewing All Data

Next, let's learn how to view all data from a table.

1SELECT * FROM Albums;

The SELECT keyword is used to specify the data we wish to see. The asterisk * represents our request to see all the data. Lastly, FROM Albums; instructs the database to display the data from the Albums table.

Upon executing this command, we'll receive a comprehensive list of all the data present in the 'Albums' table. You'll get to try it in the practice section that follows.


That's a wrap for our first lesson! We've journeyed from understanding the basics of databases and SQL to learning how to write our first query. Now, you're equipped to display a list of all tables in your dataset using SHOW TABLES; and to view all data from a table with SELECT * FROM Albums;.

Now, let's apply our newly acquired knowledge to some practical exercises! The upcoming practice exercises are based on the topics covered in this lesson. These will reinforce your understanding and help you become comfortable with the basics of SQL.

Enjoy this lesson? Now it's time to practice with Cosmo!

Practice is how you turn knowledge into actual skills.