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Advanced Solfege Portfolio by: Benjamin Thacher, (Spring 2007)

Solfege Definition
Goals and Thoughts
Notes From Mr. Scripp
Solfege Definition

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From Online Encyclopedia:

In music, solfege (or solmization) is a pedagogical technique for the teaching of sight-singing in which each note of the score is sung to a special syllable, called a "solfege syllable" (or "sol-fa syllable"). The seven syllables normally used for this practice in the West are: Do, Re, Mi, Fa, Sol, La, Si. (In England, Canada, and the U.S., "Sol" and "Si" are usually replaced with "So" and "Ti".)

Traditionally, solfege is taught in a series of exercises of gradually increasing difficulty, each of which is also known as a "solfege" (or "solfeggio"). By extension, the word "solfeggio" may be used of an instrumental étude.



* 1 Etymology

* 2 Origin of the Solfege syllables

* 3 The modern use of solfege

o 3.1 Fixed Do solfege

o 3.2 Solfa (Movable Do)

* 4 Solfege in popular culture

* 5 Solfege in other cultures

* 6 See also

* 7 External links

[edit] Etymology

The word "Solfege" derives from the French solfège or the Italian solfeggio, both ultimately derived from the names of two of the syllables used: Sol and Fa. The English equivalent of this expression, "sol-fa" is also used, especially as a verb ("to sol-fa" a passage is to sing it in solfege).

In its contemporary French usage, the word solfège is used in a much broader sense, to encompass almost all of musicianship and score-reading.

The word "solmization" derives from the Latin "solmisatio", ultimately from the names of the syllables Sol and Mi. It is sometimes restricted to the historical form of solmization invented by Guido of Arezzo.

[edit] Origin of the Solfege syllables

The invention of solfege is ascribed to Guido of Arezzo, legend has it to help his fellow-monks learn their music. He used a series of six syllables to refer to the six degrees of the hexachord. These six syllables were drawn from the hymn to Saint John "Ut queant laxis", because each of the six phrases of that hymn began on each of the six degrees of the hexachord:

Ut queant laxis resonare fibris

Mira gestorum famuli tuorum,

Solve polluti labii reatum,

Sancte Ioannes.

This hymn gave the six syllables: Ut, Re, Mi, Fa, Sol, La. In the course of time, "Ut" was changed to "Do" on the grounds that it was easier to sing, and the syllable "Si" was added to indicate the leading tone of the modern scale. (The name "Si" may perhaps derive from the first letters of "sancte ioannes".)

In Romance countries, these seven syllables have come to be used to name the notes of the scale, for which we use the letters C, D, E, F, G, A and B. (They would say: "Beethoven's ninth symphony is in Re minor".) In Germanic countries, the letters are used for this purpose, and the solfege syllables are encountered only for their use in sight-singing and ear training. (They would say: "Beethoven's ninth symphony is in D minor".)

In Anglo-Saxon countries, "Sol" is often changed to "So", and "Si" was changed to "Ti" by Sarah Glover in the nineteenth century (so that every syllable might begin with a different letter).

[edit] The modern use of solfege

There are two main types of solfege:

1. Fixed Do, in which each syllable corresponds to a note-name. This is analogous to the Romance system naming pitches after the solfege syllables, and is used in Romance and Slavic countries, among others.

2. Movable Do, or Solfa in which each syllable corresponds to a degree of the scale. This is analogous to the Guidonian practice of giving each degree of the hexachord a solfege name, and is mostly used in Anglo-saxon and Germanic countries.

[edit] Fixed Do solfege

Fixed do solfege is employed in Spain, Italy, France, Belgium, Latin American countries, among others. In this system, each solfege syllable corresponds exactly to the name of a note, so that, e.g., any written "C" is sung as "Do", etc. Since these syllables are, in these countries, the names of the notes for which they are used, this system would be analogous to an English-speaker singing a tune on "A, B, C" etc. The following table shows the correspondence between the Romance solfege note-names and the Germanic letter names. (The pronunciation key shows an anglicized pronunciation in IPA, as shown at the IPA chart for English.)

Note Name Solfege Name Pronunciation

C Do /doʊ/

D Re /reɪ/

E Mi /mi/

F Fa /fɑ/

G Sol /soʊl/

A La /lɑ/

B Si /si/

In France, absolute notes are named in solfege.

In France, absolute notes are named in solfege.

Chromatic alterations are not taken into account, so that D-flat, D-natural, and D-sharp are all sung on "re".

Another system of fixed do solfege assigns a separate name to each chromatically altered note, but this is not much encountered:

Note Name Solfege Name Pronunciation

C Do /doʊ/

C-sharp Di /di/

D-flat Ra /rɑ/

D Re /reɪ/

D-sharp Ri /ri/

E-flat Ma /mɑ/

E Mi /mi/

F Fa /fɑ/

F-sharp Fi /fi/

G-flat Sal /sɑl/

G Sol /soʊl/

G-sharp Sil /sil/

A-flat Le /leɪ/

A La /lɑ/

A-sharp Li /li/

B-flat Sa /sɑ/

B Si /si/

This does not correspond to the ordinary Romance way of naming the sharp and flat notes, which is done by suffixing the word for "flat" or "sharp" to the ordinary (solfege) name of the natural note.

[edit] Solfa (Movable Do)

Movable do is frequently employed in England and America (although many American conservatories use French-style fixed do). Originally it was used throughout continental Europe as well, but in the mid-nineteenth century was phased out by fixed do. In this system, each solfege syllable corresponds, not to a pitch, but to a degree of the scale: the first scale degree of a (major) scale is always sung as do, the second scale degree as re, etc. (For minor keys, see below.) In movable do, a given tune is therefore always solfeged on the same syllables, no matter what key it is in.

The names used for movable do differ slightly than those used for fixed do, because chromatically altered syllables are usually included, and the English names of the syllables are usually used:

Scale Degree Solfege Name Pronunciation

1 Do /doʊ/

Raised 1 Di /di/

Lowered 2 Ra /rɑ/

2 Re /reɪ/

Raised 2 Ri /ri/

Lowered 3 Me /meɪ/

3 Mi /mi/

4 Fa /fɑ/

Raised 4 Fi /fi/

Lowered 5 Se /seɪ/

5 So /so/

Raised 5 Si /si/

Lowered 6 Le /leɪ/

6 La /lɑ/

Raised 6 Li /li/

Lowered 7 Te /teɪ/

7 Ti /ti/

If, at a certain point, the key of a piece modulates, then it is necessary to change the solfege names at that point as well. For example, if a piece is in C major, then C is sung on "Do", D on "Re", etc.. If, however, the piece then modulated to G, C would be sung on "Fa", D on "So", etc., because G would become the new "Do" in relation to which all other notes had to be reckoned.

Passages in a minor key may be solfeged in one of two ways in movable do: either starting on do (using "me", "le" and "te" for the lowered third, sixth, and seventh degrees, and "la" and "ti" for the raised sixth and seventh degrees), or starting on la (using "fi" and "si" for the raised sixth and seventh degrees).

One particularly important variant of Movable Do, but differing in some respects from the system here described, was invented in the nineteenth century by John Curwen, and is known as Tonic Sol-fa.

[edit] Solfege in popular culture

* Do-Re-Mi is a song featured in the musical The Sound of Music. Within the story, Maria uses the song to teach the notes of the major musical scale to the Von Trapp children, by identifying each of the solfege syllables Do Re Mi Fa So La Ti with the English words "doe", "ray", "me", "far", "sew", "la" and "tea". Each syllable of the diatonic scale appears as solfege in its lyrics, sung on the pitch it names.

* The Music Man also used solfege in its music, especially in Shipoopi.

* "The Family Guy" sings the "Shipoopi" song and has the audience singing the scales and raising signs with the solfege on them, which can be found here

* A Japanese animated series with a musical theme is known as Ojamajo Doremi, with the English language version known as Magical DoReMi. In the Japanese series it is about a girl named Doremi and two of her friends, but the dub changed their names to Dorie, Reanne, and Mirabelle. In the original, Doremi's name was to reflect solfege, but in the English version, the first syllables of all their names together make solfege. In the episode "Dustin' the Old Rusty Broom", when they make over the Rusty Broom, they call it the DoReMi Magic Shop, naming it after the first syllables of their names. Patina complains that it's her shop, but Dorie says, "We were going to call it DoReMiPa, but that wouldn't sound right." The fairies in said show are known as Dodo, Rae Rae (Rere in the Japanese version), Mimi, and so forth, all given to reflect solfege as well.

* Hawkwind named their 1972 album Doremi Fasol Latido.

* The Curwen hand signals are used in the climactic scene of the film Close Encounters of the Third Kind when François Truffaut's character communicates with the alien.

* Solfeggio was the name of a song used in a comedy sketch featuring The Nairobi Trio on Ernie Kovacs's television show. The lyrics of the song featured the solfege tones and was played while three cast members dressed in trench coats, gorilla masks and bowler hats engaged in silly situations on-screen. This clip can be found here or here

* The Aristocats has a section that is a music lesson with scales and arpeggios in French, that can be found here

* The Japanese rock band Asian Kung-Fu Generation released an album titled Sol-fa.

[edit] Solfege in other cultures

In India, the origin of solmization was to be found in Vedic texts like the Upanishads, which discuss a musical system of seven notes, realized ultimately in what is known as sargam. In Indian classical music, the notes in order are: Sa, Re, Ga, Ma, Pa, Dha, Ni, Sa.

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