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.