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.