Do Re Mi Fa Sol La Ti Do
Many of us have heard this as a child or heard someone sing using these syllables. What does it mean?
Suppose you have a C Major Scale (CDEFGAB), each of these notes can be labeled via a SCALE DEGREE
C is 1, D is 2, E is 3 and so forth.
Likewise, each note can be named with a SYLLABLE. C is Do, D is Re, E is Mi and so forth.
Why would you want to use syllables?
One reason is that the syllables have a beautiful sound to them, another reason is because once you sing these enough as you listen to music you will be able to identify what you are hearing via the syllables. Lastly, once you get into flat notes, using numbers becomes a bit troublesome. For instance, singing flat three or flat six every time you see one of those is a mouthful. I will get to the syllables I use for flat or sharp notes later but for now let’s keep it Diatonic and only use notes within the major scale.
If you read up on solfege you will find out there are two main systems of solfege. FIXED-Do and MOVEABLE-Do. I personally use Moveable-Do.
Most music is tonal and heard within the context of a key? With the MOVEABLE-Do system regardless of what key you are in, the first degree/note of the scale becomes DO. You learn to hear notes in the context of a key, you will literally feel what a 3rd feels like. A 3rd sounds like a 3rd regardless of the key, chord, etc.
For example if you switch to the key of E, the E becomes Do, F# becomes Re.
In the FIXED-DO system E would be called Me (Everything is referenced back to the key of C), the notes’ syllables stay the same regardless of what key you are in. This system makes sense for ATONAL music or for those trying to acquire perfect pitch. Fixed-do is the system often used in Europe, and lots of the great composers were versed in it as well.
How can Solfege improve your music abilities? It can increase your hearing abilities to the point that you can write a song or transcribe something you are hearing without an instrument. You will eventually hear something and just know immediately what it is, speeding up the time it takes you to learn something. I have songs I’ve actually written sitting in my car just humming or singing the syllables and writing them down.
How should you start learning Solfege?
I recommend beginning with singing simple three note patterns.
DO RE MI RE DO
DO RE FA RE DO
DO RE SOL RE DO
DO RE MI FA MI RE DO
DO RE MI SOL MI RE DO
Hopefully you get the idea here. In the above example we start by going straight up the first three notes of the scale, next we skip the 3rd note, go to the 4th and back down. This gradually tests your ability to remember the pitches as they are skipped.
Use your preferred instrument to check your accuracy in the beginning.
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