Remember in The Sound of Music that Do, A Deer song that used to absolutely drive you crazy? Yeah, that one.

That was a song that introduces the musical alphabet called "solfege". I have no idea where the word came from, but it uses arbitrary syllables to name notes.

As I learned it, here are the syllables and their corresponding letters for a C Major scale:

  • C: Do
  • D: Re
  • E: Mi
  • F: Fa
  • G: So
  • A: La
  • B: Ti

I've heard that solfege is a relative naming convention; that is, if you were playing an F Sharp Major scale, F Sharp would be "Do", etc.

In any case, solfege may seem rather dopey, but it has a few advantages. First of all, it's not language-specific (the Japanese vocalist for our band annotates her lyrics using solfege in katakana). Secondly, it's a useful teaching tool for young children because it's unique. Try getting a 4 year old to believe that "A" no longer means " the letter A", but rather refers to a 440 Hz tone. Yaright.

For this reason, the Yamaha Music School's piano system, and probably the Suzuki Violin Method both use Solfege for the first several years of a child's (vital, in my opinion) musical education. I feel as though the use of solfege may be more prevalent outside of the United States.

Solfege is actually the center of a lot of controvercy in music education circles. Some teachers believe that the time it takes to memorize the nonsense syllables is wasted: it could be spent on actual ear training and rehearsal. This is why many music classes, conservatories and vocal coaches use the numerical sight-singing system instead. The down-side to this is that solfeggio is more accurate: it provides distinct monosyllables for the entire chromatic scale:
and decending
___ te
______ le
_________ se
___________ fa
_____________ mi
_______________ me

Each syllable is a half-step higher or lower than the one before: "me" is half a step lower than "mi", for example. The names are based around the major scale: The notes do-re-mi-fa-so-la-ti-do do not change based on direction, but the half-steps in between do. If you are progressing up the scale, the name of a note will be the major-scale note below it, modified to end in an "i" (for example, "fa" ---> "fi" If you are decending the scale, the name will be the note above, modified to an "e" or "a" ("so" ------> "se", but "re" -----"ra" since it *already* ends in an "e".

Pronunciation Note In this, an ending "o" is a long o sound like in "dough", an ending "i" is a long e sound, as in "tree", an ending "e" is a long a sound, as in "ray", and an endind "a" is an ah sound, as in "far"

"so" and "sol" are equivalent, the ending "l" is a matter of preference. I've included one of each. "ti" is sometimes called "si", as well, but this version leads to less confusion with "so"

Log in or registerto write something here or to contact authors.