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#935096 - 08/02/08 10:09 AM How is 'fixed do' solfege taught outside the U.S.?
Late Bloomer Offline
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Registered: 07/24/08
Posts: 70
I have read that in certain European countries such as France, Italy, Belgium, and Spain, as well as other countries outside Europe, the solfege syllables do, re, mi, sol, la, and si (not ti) are used to name fixed pitches the same way the letters C, D, E, F, G, A and B are used to name fixed pitches in the United States. For example, sheet music titles or CD liner notes in French will refer to piece in B-flat major as "en si bémol majeur"; Italian text will refer to a piece in C-sharp minor as "in do diesis minore" (French uses 'ut' instead of 'do' in this context for historical reasons.)

In the United States, this way of using solfege syllables is rarely seen outside of conservatories, as far as I know. It is much more common here to use the solfege syllables to name scale degrees. (There are two schools of thought here on how to apply the syllables to minor keys, but that's another story.) To distinguish the two systems, we have the terms 'fixed do solfege' and 'moveable do solfege'. People familiar with only one of these two systems often use the term 'solfege' by itself, which can lead to confusion.

Because the 'fixed do' system is not widely used here, I have been unable to find detailed information on how the system is taught. Here are the few things I have learned so far. Anyone reading who has studied using fixed do, please correct me if I am wrong.
  • The syllables are used to name notes in writing and speech. Letter names are rarely or never used.
  • Notes that have sharps or flats are named with the solfege syllable plus the native word for the type of modifier being applied (such as 'si bémol' in French for B-flat or 'do diesis' in Italian for C-sharp). Altered syllables are not used. This is in contrast to the moveable do system where 'do sharp' is called 'di', for example. I have seen theoretical descriptions of fixed do with altered syllables, but I have never heard of someone who has studied outside the U.S. using such a system.
  • When note names are sung in rhythm (or, sometimes, spoken in rhythm), any modifiers are omitted. So a B, a B-flat, and a B-sharp would all be sung with the syllable 'si' (on whichever pitch was correct).

I am curious as to how the fixed do system is used to teach concepts that seem 'built into' the moveable do system. For example, the differences between the major, natural minor, harmonic minor, and melodic minor scales involve syllable differences in the moveable do system, but with fixed do the syllables are the same (for a given tonic pitch). Modulation to a new key, unless the modulation is fleeting or ambiguous, would change where 'do' is in the moveable do system, but with fixed do the syllables would not change. If a student of a transposing instrument were asked to sight-sing his or her music, the fixed do syllables would be different depending on whether they were associated with the written pitch or the concert pitch. How are these concepts taught with fixed do outside the United States?

My intention, I must emphasize, is not to question the value of the fixed do system. I simply want to learn more about it.

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#935097 - 08/02/08 03:22 PM Re: How is 'fixed do' solfege taught outside the U.S.?
pianobuff Offline
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Well, I guess I'm an exception... I live in the good 'ole US of A and I teach using the fixed do system.

I teach it to young children learning piano pretty much the same way as you described.

It interests me that Europeans omit the sharps and flats when singing the pitch in solfege. I like to sing, for example, F# - Fi, Gb - Se.

The moveable do system, I use later as an eductation of modulation/transposition/theory.

Fixed do is just a way of naming the pitches instead of using letter names. I do refer/teach letter names as well, but later on.
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#935098 - 08/02/08 04:04 PM Re: How is 'fixed do' solfege taught outside the U.S.?
Late Bloomer Offline
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Registered: 07/24/08
Posts: 70
 Quote:
Originally posted by pianobuff:
Well, I guess I'm an exception... I live in the good 'ole US of A and I teach using the fixed do system.[/b]
Where (or how) did you learn the system?
 Quote:
Originally posted by pianobuff:
It interests me that Europeans omit the sharps and flats when singing the pitch in solfege. I like to sing, for example, F# - Fi, Gb - Se.[/b]
How would you sing, for example, an F-sharp harmonic minor scale?

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#935099 - 08/02/08 05:07 PM Re: How is 'fixed do' solfege taught outside the U.S.?
dumdumdiddle Offline
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Loc: California
'Fixed do' solfege is the musical language of 2 prominent group piano programs: Yamaha and Harmony Road. I use it almost exclusively for new piano students (especially young children) because it lends itself very easily to internalizing pitch, thus making ear training a breeze. I do use letter names when referring to the 'Key of C', 'Key of G', 'Key of Am' and we talk about C chords, G7 chords, etc... We sing the melody of every song we will eventually play in 'fixed do' solfege.

There's always a debate about which is better: fixed or movable, and there are reasons for teaching each. Movable is used more in choral settings, when transposing. Fixed is used to teach what the pitch sounds like (in other words, 'do' always sounds like this).

When singing accidentals, at first I will sing 'fa-sharp', to reinforce to students the sharp. Later though, when we're singing a particular song quite fluently, I'll just sing 'fa' and students know that it's 'fa-sharp'.

With the HR method we basically stick to the white key scales. By the time students are playing D-flat or F-sharp scales/chords they've moved on to private lessons and letter names.
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#935100 - 08/02/08 05:43 PM Re: How is 'fixed do' solfege taught outside the U.S.?
Late Bloomer Offline
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Registered: 07/24/08
Posts: 70
 Quote:
Originally posted by dumdumdiddle:
'Fixed do' solfege is the musical language of 2 prominent group piano programs: Yamaha and Harmony Road.[/b]
Ah yes, I had heard about these programs but forgot to mention them. Thanks.
 Quote:
Originally posted by dumdumdiddle:
There's always a debate about which is better: fixed or movable, and there are reasons for teaching each.[/b]
I know that there's a debate and that it can get very heated. That's why I would like to keep this thread as strictly informational as possible.
 Quote:
Originally posted by dumdumdiddle:
By the time students are playing D-flat or F-sharp scales/chords they've moved on to private lessons and letter names.[/b]
Would it be fair to say that you view solfege as a stepping stone, as something that your students eventually outgrow? In my experience, this view is common in the United States, but in countries where fixed do solfege is the standard, solfege is more likely to be viewed as a lifelong tool.

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#935101 - 08/02/08 06:30 PM Re: How is 'fixed do' solfege taught outside the U.S.?
dumdumdiddle Offline
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Registered: 09/16/06
Posts: 1263
Loc: California
I wouldn't say my students outgrow solfege, but there are virtually NO methods or teachers who reinforce solfege at the advanced levels. I am continually puzzled at teachers who are downright 'anti-solfege' (and I have met some). It seems that most of the world learns music using solfege and not letter names; I think the exceptions are Germany, Great Britain, Canada, and of course the U.S.

My more advanced students (who graduate from HR or Yamaha) use solfege and letter names interchangeably. My own personal opinion is that students who are taught solfege (and sing in solfege and are ear-trained in solfege) are much more musical than students who learn strictly letter names. I can't back this up scientifically but it is based 30+ years of having taught both ways.
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#935102 - 08/03/08 01:17 AM Re: How is 'fixed do' solfege taught outside the U.S.?
Late Bloomer Offline
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Registered: 07/24/08
Posts: 70
dumdumdiddle,

I'm curious where or how you learned the fixed do system.

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#935103 - 08/03/08 10:12 AM Re: How is 'fixed do' solfege taught outside the U.S.?
dumdumdiddle Offline
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Registered: 09/16/06
Posts: 1263
Loc: California
I learned it when I trained to teach the Yamaha method back in 1981.
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#935104 - 08/03/08 03:03 PM Re: How is 'fixed do' solfege taught outside the U.S.?
pianobuff Offline
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Registered: 04/09/06
Posts: 1580
Loc: Pacific Northwest
 Quote:
Originally posted by Late Bloomer:
 Quote:
Originally posted by pianobuff:
Well, I guess I'm an exception... I live in the good 'ole US of A and I teach using the fixed do system.[/b]
Where (or how) did you learn the system?
 Quote:
Originally posted by pianobuff:
It interests me that Europeans omit the sharps and flats when singing the pitch in solfege. I like to sing, for example, F# - Fi, Gb - Se.[/b]
How would you sing, for example, an F-sharp harmonic minor scale? [/b]
To answer your questions:


1.) I initially learned it as a child singing "Do a Deer", from Sound of Music while playing it by ear on our piano. After that I just always liked to sing in sofege. I learned moveable "do" system in college and fixed "do" (which I already knew) when taking Yamaha and Suzuki piano workshops.


2.) If I was to sing an F# harmonic minor scale using the fixed solfege system, it would fgo like this:

Fi-Si-La-Ti-Di-Re-Fa(mi#)-Fi

The Fa would be the raised seventh, and yes it really would be E# theoretically, but the pitch is Fa and could be sung as Fa.
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#935105 - 08/03/08 03:21 PM Re: How is 'fixed do' solfege taught outside the U.S.?
keystring Online   content
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A thought occurred to me. What would you call a double sharped Fa in fixed do solfege - I've dubbed it "fee-hee" in case the poor thing hasn't been named.

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#935106 - 08/03/08 04:00 PM Re: How is 'fixed do' solfege taught outside the U.S.?
Late Bloomer Offline
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Registered: 07/24/08
Posts: 70
 Quote:
Originally posted by pianobuff:
I initially learned it as a child singing "Do a Deer", from Sound of Music while playing it by ear on our piano.[/b]
A bit of trivia about this song, courtesy of Wikipedia: "It was originally written in this key [C major] in the sheet music and is sung this way in the original stage version of The Sound of Music. However, in the film version it was transposed from C to B flat, to minimise the transition from speech to song."

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Do-Re-Mi

YouTube videos of the song from the movie and the stage show confirm this.
 Quote:
Originally posted by pianobuff:
If I was to sing an F# harmonic minor scale using the fixed solfege system, it would go like this:

Fi-Si-La-Ti-Di-Re-Fa(mi#)-Fi

The Fa would be the raised seventh, and yes it really would be E# theoretically, but the pitch is Fa and could be sung as Fa.[/b]
Interesting. From what I've read, fixed do is usually tightly linked to staff notation, so that the position of the notehead on the staff (in the context of the active clef) always determines the syllable. All major and minor scales with the same written tonic use the same syllables, all seventh chords with the same written root (including diminished seventh chords) use the same syllables, and so on. To someone used to this approach, I presume, hearing the pitch F sung as 'fa' would imply a written F-natural, which in a piece in F-sharp minor would probably imply a modulation.

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#935107 - 08/03/08 04:50 PM Re: How is 'fixed do' solfege taught outside the U.S.?
Late Bloomer Offline
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Registered: 07/24/08
Posts: 70
 Quote:
Originally posted by keystring:
A thought occurred to me. What would you call a double sharped Fa in fixed do solfege - I've dubbed it "fee-hee" in case the poor thing hasn't been named. [/b]
What you would call a note in writing, speech or slow singing and what you would call it when singing at speed are often two different things in fixed do. My understanding is that all users of fixed do would call the note in question 'fa-double-sharp' (or 'fa-[native-words-for-double-sharp]') whenever practical.

But what would you call it when singing at speed? So far I am aware of two answers:
  1. fa, because it is written as a kind of F
  2. sol, because it sounds like a G (is enharmonic to G)

As far as I know, #1 is the norm outside the United States.

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#935108 - 08/04/08 01:30 AM Re: How is 'fixed do' solfege taught outside the U.S.?
pianobuff Offline
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Registered: 04/09/06
Posts: 1580
Loc: Pacific Northwest
Late Bloomer wrote:
[/qb][/QUOTE]Interesting. From what I've read, fixed do is usually tightly linked to staff notation, so that the position of the notehead on the staff (in the context of the active clef) always determines the syllable. All major and minor scales with the same written tonic use the same syllables, all seventh chords with the same written root (including diminished seventh chords) use the same syllables, and so on. To someone used to this approach, I presume, hearing the pitch F sung as 'fa' would imply a written F-natural, which in a piece in F-sharp minor would probably imply a modulation. [/QB][/QUOTE]


Interesting discussion, to be quite honest with you I never really thought of how you would sing in solfege E#. Cute Keystring, mi-hee perhaps!


Late Bloomer,

What you're saying seems a little contradictary to me, or maybe I'm just not getting it.

Are you saying that if a piece is in the key of F# minor and you were singing the melody in solfege or identifying the notes in solfege and there was the raised seventh (E#), singing Fa would be incorrect, because what you are saying is that you need to identify it by its notehead name? Is this what you are saying?

Thanks for the clarification.
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#935109 - 08/04/08 01:37 AM Re: How is 'fixed do' solfege taught outside the U.S.?
pianobuff Offline
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Registered: 04/09/06
Posts: 1580
Loc: Pacific Northwest
Sorry, after reading your reply to Keystring, I think I understand what you are saying. When identifying you would say mi# for E#. When singing it would be mi. Correct? Or Fa?

Thanks for your research.
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#935110 - 08/04/08 01:50 AM Re: How is 'fixed do' solfege taught outside the U.S.?
pianobuff Offline
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Registered: 04/09/06
Posts: 1580
Loc: Pacific Northwest
Where do the alterations to the solfege syllables fit in then?

If you can sing it with the correct alterations, it sounds less confusing and more correct and quite beautiful being "on pitch." But how would you sing mi# or ti#. The only two notes that seem problematic. I would sing it Fa and Do, that way the pitch is at least correct. As far as double flats and double sharps... hmmm... I suppose the enharmonic equivelent, there as well, will have to do.
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#935111 - 08/04/08 04:07 AM Re: How is 'fixed do' solfege taught outside the U.S.?
Late Bloomer Offline
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Registered: 07/24/08
Posts: 70
pianobuff,

Traditionally, there are no altered syllables in the fixed do system. Yet altered syllables are commonly used in the moveable do system (the major variants, anyway). I can only speculate as to why.

The altered syllables for moveable do are usually presented in the context of a chromatic scale:
 Code:
ascending:  do di re ri mi fa fi so si la li ti do
descending: do ti te la le so se fa mi me re ra do
(I have seen different altered syllables for the descending chromatic scale, but these are the ones I have seen most often.)

A user of moveable do would think of the above syllables as representing scale degrees:
 Code:
(R = raised, L = lowered)
ascending:  1  R1 2  R2 3  4  R4 5  R5 6  R6 7  1
descending: 1  7  L7 6  L6 5  L5 4  3  L3 2  L2 1
A user of fixed do who accepted altered syllables would think of the syllables above as representing specific written notes:
 Code:
ascending:  C  C# D  D# E  F  F# G  G# A  A# B  C
descending: C  B  Bb A  Ab G  Gb F  E  Eb D  Db C
According to the fixed do interpretation, which written notes are not covered? The simplest ones are the 'white key' sharps and flats: E#, B#, Cb, Fb. These notes appear either as part of the scale of a key with more than five sharps/flats, or (for the sharps) as the leading tone in a harmonic or melodic minor scale. Moveable do can handle both of those situations with the existing syllables. Fixed do with altered syllables would need a new altered syllable for each of the four notes (unless enharmonic substitutions were used).

Then there are the double-sharps and double-flats. Double-sharps sometimes appear as the leading tone in a harmonic or melodic minor scale. Double-flats sometimes appear as the seventh in diminished seventh chords. Again, moveable do would not need any new syllables for these situations, but fixed do would (unless enharmonic substitutions were used).

In the end, I think it would just take too many altered syllables to cover all your bases with fixed do, and the system would become unwieldy, so the most common solution is not to use any altered syllables at all.

But what about enharmonic substitutions? As I mentioned in my earlier post, they break the close correspondence between traditional fixed do syllables and staff notation. A skilled user of traditional fixed do probably likes the fact that every major and minor scale uses all seven syllables, even when the scale has more than five sharps or flats or has a double-sharp, and likes the fact that every written seventh uses syllables a seventh apart, even when it's a diminished seventh, and so on. The feeling, I imagine, is: "It's not a bug, it's a feature."

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#935112 - 08/04/08 04:46 AM Re: How is 'fixed do' solfege taught outside the U.S.?
Late Bloomer Offline
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Registered: 07/24/08
Posts: 70
 Quote:
Originally posted by pianobuff:
When identifying you would say mi# for E#. When singing it would be mi. Correct?[/b]
Yes. In traditional fixed do, an ascending F-sharp harmonic minor scale would be sung as:

fa sol la si do re mi fa

These are the same syllables you would use to sing the other F-sharp minor scales, and the F-sharp major scale, and the F major and F minor scales.

As someone trained in moveable do, my reaction is, "Wouldn't that be confusing?" But whenever I've read Internet posts from people who grew up with traditional fixed do, they always say, "No, it's not confusing." So I started this thread to find out more.

Now if only someone who grew up with traditional fixed do would post....

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#935113 - 08/05/08 01:06 AM Re: How is 'fixed do' solfege taught outside the U.S.?
pianobuff Offline
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Registered: 04/09/06
Posts: 1580
Loc: Pacific Northwest
This is very interesting to me, since I love and always have loved to use solfege.

It will be confusing to me, unfortunately, because it looks to me that I trained myself to be too thorough with my pitches when using solfege.

I know of other Suzuki teachers that have said,"Oh, I just say Fa for Fa#", for example. I always thought, "heck we can do better than that, lets be more exact."

I'm happy that you posted this thread. It has made me more aware of the correct and incorrect way of using the solfege systems. I will now try to retrain my ears and make it a little more easier on myself and my students.
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#935114 - 08/05/08 01:19 AM Re: How is 'fixed do' solfege taught outside the U.S.?
keystring Online   content
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I know two people who grew up with traditional fixed do - I'll ask.

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#935115 - 08/05/08 04:36 AM Re: How is 'fixed do' solfege taught outside the U.S.?
Late Bloomer Offline
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Registered: 07/24/08
Posts: 70
Since writing my recent long post about the 'white key' sharps and flats and the double-sharps and double-flats, I've noticed that these notes appear in other contexts besides the ones I mentioned (major and minor scales and diminished seventh chords). For example, looking through the score of Chopin's Waltz in C-sharp Minor, I see not just the expected B-sharp (as leading tone), but E-sharp, F-double-sharp, C-double-sharp, and B-double-flat, all as part of chromatic scale passages. There's also an F-flat that I'm not sure how to analyze (as the third scale degree of D-flat minor, perhaps?).

[Edit: It's not just Chopin, either: E-sharp and F-double-sharp show up as chromatic neighbor tones in Haydn's Sonata in D Major, Hob. XVI:37.]

Anyway, I think it's still correct that, when these notes appear, moveable do would not usually require any extra altered syllables to name them as written, but fixed do would (if altered syllables were used at all).

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#935116 - 08/05/08 05:24 AM Re: How is 'fixed do' solfege taught outside the U.S.?
Late Bloomer Offline
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Registered: 07/24/08
Posts: 70
 Quote:
Originally posted by pianobuff:
I know of other Suzuki teachers that have said,"Oh, I just say Fa for Fa#", for example. I always thought, "heck we can do better than that, let's be more exact."[/b]
That's a good habit, to question and to look for improvements. Nothing wrong with that.
 Quote:
Originally posted by pianobuff:
I'm happy that you posted this thread. It has made me more aware of the correct and incorrect way of using the solfege systems. I will now try to retrain my ears and make it a little more easier on myself and my students. [/b]
Thanks and good luck!

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#935117 - 08/05/08 06:07 AM Re: How is 'fixed do' solfege taught outside the U.S.?
Boira Offline
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Registered: 07/09/07
Posts: 472
Loc: Barcelona
I grew up in Spain with the traditional fixed do system (2 years of solfege when I was 6-8 years old, one more year now as an adult). In fact, I never knew there was a movable do untill I read this post.
It's really interesting knowing about other perspectives, and apart from all your comments I've also searched the web for information about the movable do system and the pros/cons in both systems.

Maybe it's just that what you learn in your early childhood is what you find the most logic as an adult, but I find the movable system a bit confusing... as confusing as naming the music notes with letters C, D, E... \:D ouch my first months in Pianoworld were crazy! everybody talking about letters instead of do-re-mi-fa... \:D and still I need some pause to translate into solfege when somebody says "C sharp" (ah, yes, he means Do sostenido!)

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#935118 - 08/05/08 07:05 AM Re: How is 'fixed do' solfege taught outside the U.S.?
keystring Online   content
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That makes sense, Boira. "Movable do" is a system for identifying the degrees of a scale and getting a sense of those degrees. For instruments where pitch is created and can be adjusted, such as voice and non-fretted string instruments, there is also a colour to each note in that scale. The fourth degree of the major scale is less than a semitone away from the third degree, and it has a colour or character of wanting to move toward that note or resolve toward it. Movable do solfege attempts to capture all of that, and is not concerned with pitch at all. The system was invented in one place in England as a way of teaching the existing repertoire of religious songs by rote to choristers before written music existed.

Letter names and fixed do syllabic names both identify pitches, not intervals. Btw, a few years ago in choir I sat beside a bewildered soprano from France who couldn't make head or tails of the choirmaster's instructions. In the intermission I scribbled a translation of letter to f.d.solfege for her which she went home and memorized. Canada being a bilingual French & English country this can get interesting.

In my multilingual music dictionary, all countries using syllables will call the basic notes do, re, mi, fa, so ... But flats and sharps have different names: (hopefully I'll remember to scan and insert the page from the multilingual dictionary when I replace this half-broken computer later today. I'm on safe mode and can't scan. \:\( )

A musician I know of Russian heritage would sing the basic syllables, but would *think* the quality of sharps or flats. It is not practical when singing pitch names, whether letters or syllables, to sing a fast passage and stumble over "C-doublesharp, D-doublesharp, E", just like you could not rapidly sing "do doble sostenido, re doble sostenido, mi...." I think you would be frothing at the mouth and untangling your tongue from your teeth. :p That must be why the system Late Bloomer mentioned leaves out the qualification of sharps or flats. What we don't know (LB?) is whether they are left out verbally but considered in thought.

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#935119 - 08/05/08 10:57 AM Re: How is 'fixed do' solfege taught outside the U.S.?
Boira Offline
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Posts: 472
Loc: Barcelona
I'm back invading again the teacher's lounge (for what I apologize in advance).

I finally had time to read all of the notes and archives about movable/fixed solfège I've been downloading and more or less I'm ready to declare that movable solfege is a... total nightmare!
Or maybe there's something that I'm getting wrong or not getting it at all.
Let's see:
In fixed do system, any written C is always sung as "Do" (for me "C" doesn't even exists, it's always "Do")
On the contrary, with movable do system, if a piece is in C major, then C is sung "Do", D is "Re", etc.. If, however, the piece then modulated to G, then G is sung “Do”, an A will be “Re”, etc., and C would now be sung “Fa".
Is that right?

BTW, some of the archives I've found on the subject are really interesting, but unfortunately others are highly inaccurate. I understand that different people may like one system best over the other (even with a passion), but saying that those taught with the fixed do system are tone-deaf very poor sight-readers and that we (textually) proceed to sing by a sort of inchoate mish-mash of interval target-practice and harmonic second-guessing is a bit on the exaggeration side.

Again, I have no idea how good or bad would a musician be if taught with de movable do instead with the fixed do, I just discovered the movable do system with this thread. In fact, apart from some strange people from far away who change the notes' names into alphabet letters ;\) \:D , I had no other reference regarding a system different from the fixed do.

Now I'm waiting for the studio to open again on September to ask my teachers what they think about the subject and about their experience with it all.

In the meantime, can anybody recommend a book comparing the two methods?

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#935120 - 08/05/08 01:19 PM Re: How is 'fixed do' solfege taught outside the U.S.?
Late Bloomer Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/24/08
Posts: 70
Boira,

Thanks so much for posting.

It's understandable that moveable do would be confusing for someone who grew up with fixed do. It's confusing for both sides to try to use the same words in a totally different way for the first time. That's probably why discussions about solfege on the Internet can get so heated.

For you, do is C, so the idea of moveable do may come across as if someone said to me, "We have a system for singing that works like this: when the music is in the key of G, then we call a G a C, and an A a D, and so on." And I would think, "But if it's a G why don't you just call it a G, always? Why pretend that it's a C?" For someone who is used to moveable do, do is the tonic (in major keys, and possibly in minor keys as well, depending on the variety of moveable do that was studied), so the idea of fixed do may come across as "pretending that everything is in the key of C and never modulates."

Something that might serve as a bridge between the two systems for you is singing using scale degree numbers: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, and 7. In this system, '1' is the tonic of the current key, so if you were singing a piece in G major, you'd start off singing '1' for G, '2' for A, and so on, and if the piece modulated to D major, then you'd sing '1' for D, '2' for E, and so on. As with traditional fixed do, there are only seven words in this system, so if you were singing in C major and saw an F-sharp (and if the key were still C major), you would sing '4'. If you use the English names for the numbers and pronounce '7' as 'sev' instead of 'seven', then every number is only one syllable. This system is used alongside fixed do at Eastman School of Music, one of the major U.S. conservatories.

Since you studied in Spain, I'm curious whether you used Eslava's Método de Solfeo. It's one of the few books that teaches fixed do that is easily available in the United States (published by G. Schirmer). Unfortunately, I know very little Spanish, so I can't read the text very well.

I am not aware of any books that discuss fixed do vs. moveable do in depth. (If I were, I might not have posted this thread at all!) Most sight-singing books published in the U.S. are deliberately 'agnostic' about what system to use, and if there is any discussion at all it is a single paragraph in the preface. I recently ordered a book that was described as discussing both systems, but I haven't received it yet, so I can't recommend it.

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#935121 - 08/05/08 02:07 PM Re: How is 'fixed do' solfege taught outside the U.S.?
Late Bloomer Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/24/08
Posts: 70
 Quote:
Originally posted by keystring:
The [moveable do] system was invented in one place in England as a way of teaching the existing repertoire of religious songs by rote to choristers before written music existed.[/b]
This is only partly accurate. The beginnings of both solfege and staff notation were developed about a thousand years ago by a monk in Italy named Guido of Arezzo. Originally there were only six solfege syllables: ut (not do), re, mi, fa, sol, and la. The syllables were used in a complex way that was not based on the interval of the octave (since there weren't enough syllables to span an octave) and was different from both of our modern systems, fixed do and moveable do. I would rather not get into it here because this thread is confusing enough already!

Anyway, later the syllable 'ut' was changed to 'do'---the French still retain 'ut' for written and spoken note names---and the seventh syllable 'si' was added.

I have a paper somewhere with more details of the history, but I can't find it.

Modern fixed do became a standard about two hundred years ago when the Conservatoire de Paris was founded.

Modern moveable do, complete with hand signs, 'ti' instead of 'si', altered syllables and so on, was developed in England in the 19th century, and was originally intended as a way of teaching music without using staff notation.

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#935122 - 08/05/08 02:34 PM Re: How is 'fixed do' solfege taught outside the U.S.?
keystring Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11572
Loc: Canada
You are right, d'Arezzi developed the syllabic names while Odo, his contemporary, used the monochord for a teaching system. The Frankish lands developed various systems and they were the first with mensural notation. D'Arezzi's system isn't really that complicated - it's based on tetrachords and involves the church modes. But it is unfamiliar to modern ears and minds.

The solfege that I was taught did not involved hand signals. There was a vertical board listing the eight syllables and a teacher pointed as we sang what she pointed at. I like this much better than hand signals, because the ups and downs of the notes match the ups and downs of the pitch these notes represent. Which were you taught?

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#935123 - 08/05/08 02:55 PM Re: How is 'fixed do' solfege taught outside the U.S.?
Late Bloomer Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/24/08
Posts: 70
 Quote:
Originally posted by keystring:
Which were you taught? [/b]
Kodály-style moveable do with Curwen hand signs. We were taught to make the hand signs at different heights to indicate pitch changes.

I should add that I learned this system as an adult. I was not taught solfege of any kind as a child.

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#935124 - 08/05/08 03:12 PM Re: How is 'fixed do' solfege taught outside the U.S.?
keystring Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11572
Loc: Canada
Ah, perhaps it changed. I was taught around 1963. The teacher pointed to a chart that looked like this:
Solfege chart and we learned to sing all kinds of common musical patterns. It must have been only for a few months. This was my only reference for decades.

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#935125 - 08/05/08 10:10 PM Re: How is 'fixed do' solfege taught outside the U.S.?
MA Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/27/06
Posts: 302
Loc: San Francisco Bay Area
 Quote:
Originally posted by Late Bloomer:

"For someone who is used to moveable do, do is the tonic (in major keys, and possibly in minor keys as well, depending on the variety of moveable do that was studied)"
[/b]
Isn't la the tonic of minor keys with moveable do?

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