Solfege In Practice

Solfege, Solfeggi, or Solfa are syllables designed to help us articulate the eight scale degrees in major and minor scales. They are in essence, a shorthand for musical intervals; a language we use to discuss each pitch in relationship to the root of the key.

(This lesson is based on the Movable Do system, if you think you already have a thorough understanding of how solfege works, scroll to the bottom for your assignment.)

      C    D     E    F     G    A    B    C   

      1    2     3    4     5    6    7    8   

Here is an example of a C Major scale. All eight scale degrees have been labeled with their number, and letter name. Below is the same scale, but instead of numbers we have used solfege syllables

      C    D     E    F     G    A    B    C   

     Do   Re  Mi   Fa   Sol   La  Ti   Do   

The syllables correspond to the numbers exactly, so we can discuss them interchangeably. Saying "the sixth scale degree" and "La" then means the same thing, because the terms exist in relationship to the ROOT of the key. In this case C. 

 

We can replicate this on any Major Scale, here it is on F Major

     Do   Re  Mi   Fa   Sol   La  Ti   Do   

      F    G    A   Bb   C    D    E     F   

Because a musical scale is a PATTERN that repeats, we can use these syllables no matter what key we're in. We can then use this system to learn music from the page, without needing an instrument to show us what it's meant to sound like. This skill takes a while to develop, but with practice becomes invaluable.

Here is "Somewhere Over The Rainbow" in two different keys. Eb Major and C Minor

     Do  Do    Ti  SoLaTi  Do    Do  La    Sol     La  Fa   Mi DoRe Mi Fa    Re  Ti Do Re  Mi     Do

     Do  Do    Ti  SoLaTi  Do    Do  La    Sol      La  Fa   Mi DoRe Mi Fa    Re TiDo Re Mi    Do

You'll notice, just like before, the solfege did not change, despite the fact we are in a new key. This is because the pattern of whole steps and half steps that create a scale remain constant no matter the key.  

You already knew this, though perhaps you've never thought about it. You experience this whenever we sing warm ups. Here is an example

When we sing warm ups we climb by half steps, and each time we do, we are essentially establishing a new key. You can then sing the same melody (Do Mi Sol Mi Do/ 1-3-5-3-1) through a series of keys. You may not have been doing so intentionally, but your brain knew what to do.

At this point, if you have any questions I suggest you read through the lesson again. It is complicated but very logical. Take your time with it. If you still have questions, hop on over to google classroom and I'll be there to help.

Your Task

There are two options here, you can complete one or both.

 Ask questions along the way and don't give up if you get frustrated.

1

 Choose a song - any song- and solfege a phrase of your choice. Do not use sheet music as a reference, use your ears.

I would suggest choosing a song in a major key. If you aren't sure how to tell, I will check for you.

Write the lyrics on a piece of paper in large bold letters, then write the corresponding Solfege syllables above them.  Take a picture.

 Submit with your name and a link to the song you chose

2

 I have noted a simple melody. Your task is to record yourself singing this melody with the correct pitches and syllables.

©2019 by Emily Zornado.