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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: 1267
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: 1267
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 Offline
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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 Offline
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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 Offline
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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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Registered: 07/09/07
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
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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
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 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 Offline
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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
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 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 Offline
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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
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 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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#935126 - 08/05/08 10:38 PM Re: How is 'fixed do' solfege taught outside the U.S.?
Pete the bean Offline
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Moveable do makes perfect sense if you understand that there are 12 major keys and that the tonic of a key has gravity. Certain scale degrees are active tones and demand resolution 2-1, 4-3, 6-5, 7-1. (Suspensions) You can feel the pull back to the stable tones 1,3,5.
It is feeling that "pull" that really opened up the point of the moveable do for me.
If your intent is to dictate a piece or modulate to new key the moveable system is absolutely a thing of beauty. You don't need to know what key the piece is in, the functions of the notes remain the same in any key.
The fixed do system makes no sense at all to my brain.
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#935127 - 08/05/08 11:02 PM Re: How is 'fixed do' solfege taught outside the U.S.?
currawong Offline
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 Quote:
Originally posted by MA:
Isn't la the tonic of minor keys with moveable do? [/b]
It can be done either way, and each has its supporters.
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#935128 - 08/05/08 11:11 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 MA:
Isn't la the tonic of minor keys with moveable do?[/b]
There are two major varieties of moveable do. One uses la as the tonic of minor keys, and one uses do as the tonic of minor keys. Both use do as the tonic of major keys.

The 'la-minor' system is the one that was used in 19th-century England and later adopted by Kodály. Of the two movable do systems, it is the one more commonly used to teach children in the United States. The 'do-tonic' system, on the other hand, is popular in university theory departments in the U.S. because it emphasizes the sharing of chords and functions between parallel major and minor keys.

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#935129 - 08/05/08 11:25 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 Pete the bean:
Moveable do makes perfect sense if you understand that there are 12 major keys and that the tonic of a key has gravity.[/b]
If the implication is that someone who is confused by moveable do must not understand scale degree functions, then I disagree. The issue is not that scale degree functions are confusing, but that using the same syllables to name both fixed pitches and scale degrees is confusing. Imagine having to use the letters A-G to identify scale degrees when you are already used to using them to identify fixed pitches. That is what it is like for someone who grew up with fixed do who encounters moveable do as an adult.

Eastman's approach, singing both with fixed do solfege and with scale degree numbers, is a way of working around this problem (since many of their students come from a fixed do background).

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#935130 - 08/05/08 11:38 PM Re: How is 'fixed do' solfege taught outside the U.S.?
currawong Offline
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 Quote:
Originally posted by Late Bloomer:
The issue is not that scale degree functions are confusing, but that using the same syllables to name both fixed pitches and scale degrees is confusing....
Eastman's approach, singing both with fixed do solfege and with scale degree numbers, is a way of working around this problem (since many of their students come from a fixed do background). [/b]
Whereas for those who haven't come from a fixed do background, the use of letter names for fixed pitches and moveable do for scale degrees would seem to make sense.
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#935131 - 08/06/08 01:57 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 currawong:
Whereas for those who haven't come from a fixed do background, the use of letter names for fixed pitches and moveable do for scale degrees would seem to make sense.[/b]
Right. There is a certain symmetry to the problem. The solfege syllables are so much more singable than the alternatives that they are begging to be used for something, and once a certain way of using them is internalized, we don't want to mess with it.

On the other hand, pianobuff said she teaches her students both fixed do and moveable do, in that order. Maybe it isn't as big a deal as it seems to be to learn both.

Anyway, speaking of symmetry: To put more clearly a point I made earlier, both sides, upon initial exposure, could see the other as "pretending that everything is in C", but in different senses. A fixed do user might look at moveable do and think of it as "pretending that the tonic is C". A moveable do user might look at fixed do and think of it as "pretending that C is the tonic". Both perspectives start with the familiar sense of 'do' and try to interpret the other system in those terms.

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#935132 - 08/06/08 02:35 AM Re: How is 'fixed do' solfege taught outside the U.S.?
currawong Offline
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 Quote:
Originally posted by Late Bloomer:
Anyway, speaking of symmetry: To put more clearly a point I made earlier, both sides, upon initial exposure, could see the other as "pretending that everything is in C", but in different senses. A fixed do user might look at moveable do and think of it as "pretending that the tonic is C". A moveable do user might look at fixed do and think of it as "pretending that C is the tonic". Both perspectives start with the familiar sense of 'do' and try to interpret the other system in those terms. [/b]
Nicely put \:\) .

I am pretty firmly in the moveable camp, feeling that fixed is just duplicating letter names, but I understand that there is a longish history of do-re-mi for actual pitches in eg France. I think it's unfortunate in some ways, but we can't change history. I learnt moveable do in my early schooldays with a chart something like keystring's, I guess (Tonic solfa "modulator" I believe it was called), and later taught Kodaly-based moveable do with small children, using hand signs. But I've also used scale degree numbers with some success in sight singing and ear training with adults. Probably as long as you're not using fixed and moveable at the same time there needn't be too much confusion.
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#935133 - 08/06/08 02:46 AM Re: How is 'fixed do' solfege taught outside the U.S.?
pianobuff Offline
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I think of fixed Do as the same as learning letter names to notes, really no different.

I think of moveable Do as the same as transposition. Or it can be used for interval ear-training.

Two different systems. Really not that confusing.
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#935134 - 08/06/08 02:48 AM Re: How is 'fixed do' solfege taught outside the U.S.?
pianobuff Offline
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The thing that bothers me about learning moveable Do first (as a child) is that you really cannot hear and internalize the actual pitches of the notes.
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#935135 - 08/06/08 03:06 AM Re: How is 'fixed do' solfege taught outside the U.S.?
Late Bloomer Offline
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Boira,

If you are still keeping track of this thread, I have a few more questions for you (besides the one about the Eslava book):
  • Were you introduced to solfege and staff notation at the same time?
  • When you were asked to sing solfege, were you usually reading from sheet music (as opposed to repeating after your teacher, singing something you had memorized, etc.)?
  • When you were introduced to a new musical concept, such as the 'black key' notes, the melodic minor scale, or diminished seventh chords, were you introduced to the written notation for these things before you were asked to sing the solfege? Or was it the other way around?
  • When you had to sing different pitches with the same names---for example, a D major triad and a D minor triad---did you find it confusing at first? If so, did you have exercises or drills to help make you more comfortable?
  • Do you have absolute pitch (often called 'perfect pitch')? That is, can you hear a tone and instantly know what musical pitch it is, without using any external references?
  • If you don't have absolute pitch: Do you ever get the urge to practice solfege when you don't have a pitch reference nearby? For example, you're walking down the street, you have a popular song stuck in your head, and you'd like to figure out the notes---but you're not sure what key you're hearing it in. What do you do in a situation like that?
  • Do you play any transposing instruments? If so, did you have to solfege your instrumental music? Were the solfege syllables based on the written pitch or the concert pitch?

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#935136 - 08/06/08 03:15 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:
The thing that bothers me about learning moveable Do first (as a child) is that you really cannot hear and internalize the actual pitches of the notes.[/b]
Do you mean that the child "cannot hear and internalize the actual pitches of the notes" until he or she studies fixed do? Or do you mean that there is a lasting disadvantage to learning moveable do first, something that persists even after fixed do is studied later?

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#935137 - 08/06/08 03:27 AM Re: How is 'fixed do' solfege taught outside the U.S.?
keystring Offline
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 Quote:
The thing that bothers me about learning moveable Do first (as a child) is that you really cannot hear and internalize the actual pitches of the notes.
That would be a theory of what might happen if a person learned m.D. first. However, that is exactly what I learned, within a period of maybe 3 months when I was about 8 years old in school, and it is the only thing that I had for most of my life. I can be the guinea pig, then.

I think that you can hear an imitate pitch without having learned to name it or be conscious of it. My pitch was good enough that when I joined the first and most amateur choir, some sopranos told me that they used me as a reference if they felt they were drifting.

However, I did not conceive of pitch as a separate and unique entity until about 3 years ago when I was in a better choir that sang Brahms, Bach, Handel. In my solfege context, we would leave off on a D which was "do" and came back to it when it had become "sol" to my ears. but the other voices had twiddled about in different keys the way it happens in that music so that it was hard to come in on that particular note. I learned to "hold on" to that pitch and remember its sound so that I could sing it cleanly later. That was the first awareness of pitch as pitch.

Then when I did the ear training last year the awareness of pitch as a separate entity, and starting to be able to hear music in the context that most people hear it, happened for the first time. I had to sing a scale while saying pitch names and also thinking solfege intervals. In the beginning I was to sing the m.d. solfege while thinking pitch names. It was weird, because on day I'd be singing in G major, and another and F# would be Ti or Subtonic. Another day I'd be singing D major and F# would be Mi or the Mediant. After a while I became conscious of pitch itself which was the beginning of developing "absolute pitch", and I'd be thinking "Hey, there goes that F# again, but it lives in a different house today. But it's still F#." That was totally new to me.

But I was not off key or out of tune before.

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#935138 - 08/06/08 03:35 AM Re: How is 'fixed do' solfege taught outside the U.S.?
keystring Offline
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A remembered metaphor:
Pitches and pitch names are like people: Charlie, Bob, Mary, Helen, Mike, Marge.

Degrees or movable do solfege names are like roles. The Mediant is the barber. The tonic is the spouse. Supertonic is your neighbour.

So when in C major, E is the mediant, it's like Charlie being the barber. Another time you run into Charlie and he happens to be your husband. That's E as the tonic of E major. Next time Charlie lives in the house next door so he's your neighbour - E as supertonic of D major. He's got all those roles but he's always Charlie. But his character is different when he is barber, spouse, our yourself. E is always E, but it's a different kind of E when tonic, supertonic or mediant.

That's the metaphor that came to me after doing those exercises.

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#935139 - 08/06/08 04:13 AM Re: How is 'fixed do' solfege taught outside the U.S.?
Boira Offline
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LB, of course I'm keeping track! Living in a different time zone, I wait untill you're all sleeping to take my revenge on those who say I don't understand that there are 12 major keys. \:D

Disclaimer: I have 3 days experience with movable do, that meaning the concepts are still too foggy.


Pianobuff is right, fixed Do is the same as learning letter names to notes. The problem/confusion comes when you realize that these note names are used in moveable Do to define a different thing. You're giving the same name to different concepts, and that's what creates confusion.


- Were you introduced to solfege and staff notation at the same time?[/b]
Yes, that was the usual.

- When you were asked to sing solfege, were you usually reading from sheet music (as opposed to repeating after your teacher, singing something you had memorized, etc.)?[/b]
Yes we read from shet music. Now that you mention it, maybe beacuse of that, I'm a better sight-reader than memorizer!

- When you were introduced to a new musical concept, such as the 'black key' notes, the melodic minor scale, or diminished seventh chords, were you introduced to the written notation for these things before you were asked to sing the solfege? Or was it the other way around?[/b]
Theory came first, the explanation of the new concep, its whys and hows and then we tried to sing it (some people were more successful that the other).

- When you had to sing different pitches with the same names---for example, a D major triad and a D minor triad---did you find it confusing at first? If so, did you have exercises or drills to help make you more comfortable?[/b]
Not at all, right from the start you get the idead of having different pitches with the same names. It's like having two friends called Jim. They have the same name but youdon't have any trouble identifying them by their voice when they're calling you on the phone and say "Hi, I'm Jim" \:D

- Do you have absolute pitch (often called 'perfect pitch')? That is, can you hear a tone and instantly know what musical pitch it is, without using any external references?[/b]
I don't have perfect pitch, but it has nothing to do with fixed or movable do. \:D

- If you don't have absolute pitch: Do you ever get the urge to practice solfege when you don't have a pitch reference nearby? For example, you're walking down the street, you have a popular song stuck in your head, and you'd like to figure out the notes---but you're not sure what key you're hearing it in. What do you do in a situation like that?[/b]
I practice solfege regularly because apart from piano lessons I'm taking also solfege and harmony lessons every week. I don't know if anybody who doesn't practice it regularly would have the necessity to keep it fresh.
When I've tried to figure out the notes of a song I usually sit at the piano and press a key. Hearing it, I know "how far" I'm from the 1st note, correct and adjust.

- Do you play any transposing instruments? If so, did you have to solfege your instrumental music? Were the solfege syllables based on the written pitch or the concert pitch?[/b]
Sorry, I wish I could play but I don't. Unfortunately, my parents though that "loosing time and money" in music lessons was too frivolous and I had to wait 27 years to continue my music journey.
Can you elaborate a bit more on 'concert pitch'? I don't understand what you mean...

* * * * *

If there's somebody still awake after all this, I have a couple of points I'd like to comment.

Other detail why people who grew up with the fixed do may find confusing the movable do is the clefs' names. That was another thing I had to adapt to when I first came to this forum.

You say trebble clef, bass clef, alto clef.... there's no written connection in these names with any particular note.

Trebble clef is called Sol clef (G clef), because you start to write it close to the 2nd line and make a circle - more or less - around it, and thus every note head on the 2nd line will be called Sol. No matter the scale we're working in or how many modulations surprise us on our way.

Fa clef on 3rd [line] or Fa clef on 4th [line]: just the same thing as above. If the two dots of our Fa-clef are framing the 4th (or 3rd line), every note on the 4th (or 3rd ) line will always be called Fa.

For the Do clef there's no surprises either: the line framed by the Do Clef is the line where you put all the notes called do. Pretty obvious, uh?

Now try to tell somebody (like me) who was taught from the early childhood that G-clef marks the G-notes, Fa-clef tells you where the fa's must be and that Do-clef rules where you write your do's, that a note on a 4th line with a Fa-clef is not Fa, but Do. Or that Sol-clef is now marking Mi's but later on will be Re's. It's right down weird.

I'm *NOT*[/b] questioning the movable do system, in fact I'm looking for bibliography about it because I'm interested in having a deeper insight. It's just that naming "Re" a note on the Sol line of a Sol clef is funny.... and confusing.

Late Bloomer, I don't know if there are available here (in Barcelona) fixed do solfege books in English, but I'm going to investigate it. If I find anything and you're still interested, I can PM you with the details. Are you fluent in French? Chances are that finding French books will be easier than English ones. Any other languague you could be interested in?
The Royal Conservatory of Barcelona is closed on August, otherwise I could go there and ask for bibliography in English (if any). My piano teacher also teaches in the Conservatory, but she's out on holidays now. She's Russian and grew up with the fixed system too.
Other possibility is asking in the ESMUC (Catalonia's College of Music). Some of their offices must be working on August, I'm sending them an email.

One last thing (I promise it's the last): Never heard about the Eslava book, but I've taken note of it and will have a look, to tell you my impressions about it.

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#935140 - 08/06/08 04:41 AM Re: How is 'fixed do' solfege taught outside the U.S.?
Boira Offline
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Posts: 472
Loc: Barcelona
AHA! I just had a light bulb moment!


Your scales ALWAYS begin with a DO! DO is how you call the 1st[/b] note on your scales, no matter how low or hight the pitch is!
You name with the sillable the position on the scale, not the pitch.
Is that it?

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#935141 - 08/06/08 05:39 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 Boira:
LB, of course I'm keeping track![/b]
:D
 Quote:
Originally posted by Boira:
[...]right from the start you get the idea of having different pitches with the same names.[/b]
Do you always sing the 'short name' of each note (for example, 'fa' instead of 'fa sostenido') even when singing very slowly? If you sing the wrong pitch, does your teacher use the full name of the note or the short name when correcting you?
 Quote:
Originally posted by Boira:
Can you elaborate a bit more on 'concert pitch'? I don't understand what you mean...[/b]
The term is used when discussing transposing instruments to refer to the sounding pitch as opposed to the written pitch. For example, I used to play alto saxophone and later tenor saxophone when I was younger. Music for both instruments is written in the treble clef. The same written note will have the same fingering on both instruments, but will sound at a lower pitch on the alto sax than on the piano, and still lower on the tenor sax. For example, a written middle C, when played by an alto sax, will sound at the pitch of the E-flat below middle C on the piano. The same written middle C, when played by a tenor sax, will sound at the pitch of the B-flat a ninth below middle C on the piano. The sounding pitch is the concert pitch.

So if a saxophonist is asked to sing his or her part in fixed do solfege, there is a problem. The syllables can match either the written pitch or the concert pitch, but not both.
 Quote:
Originally posted by Boira:
[discussion of clefs][/b]
I'm curious---do you have to sing solfege in all seven clefs? All of the fixed do books I have seen use all seven clefs, so I'm wondering if it is an integral part of the system.

Also, do you sometimes have to speak solfege in rhythm? That is the approach of another fixed do book I have, Rhythmical Articulation by Pasquale Bona (published by G. Schirmer in the U.S., like the Eslava book).
 Quote:
Originally posted by Boira:
Are you fluent in French?[/b]
Sorry, I fit the American stereotype of not being fluent in any foreign language. I have had two years of college-level German, which is better than nothing, but the Germans use letter names anyway, so that's no help.
 Quote:
Originally posted by Boira:
Chances are that finding French books will be easier than English ones.[/b]
I have considered studying French for just this reason. Well, that and Victor Hugo novels.

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#935142 - 08/06/08 05:42 AM Re: How is 'fixed do' solfege taught outside the U.S.?
currawong Offline
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Loc: Down Under
 Quote:
Originally posted by pianobuff:
The thing that bothers me about learning moveable Do first (as a child) is that you really cannot hear and internalize the actual pitches of the notes. [/b]
Yes you can - you just call them A B C etc, not do re mi. That is, when you're learning an instrument. When you're singing perhaps you're not learning actual fixed pitches. But is that so important? You're learning relative pitch, not absolute pitch.

What moveable do gives you is the sense of relationship between degrees of the scale. This is what makes you recognise a tune no matter what key it's in - because the relationship between the degrees of the scale is the same.

Keystring, your illustration of the difference between a person's name and their job is spot on!
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#935143 - 08/06/08 05:44 AM Re: How is 'fixed do' solfege taught outside the U.S.?
currawong Offline
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 Quote:
Originally posted by Boira:
AHA! I just had a light bulb moment!


Your scales ALWAYS begin with a DO! DO is how you call the 1st[/b] note on your scales, no matter how low or hight the pitch is!
You name with the sillable the position on the scale, not the pitch.
Is that it? [/b]
Yes, that's it. That is the basic idea behind the moveable do system. For actual specific pitches, we use the ABC names.
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#935144 - 08/06/08 05:50 AM Re: How is 'fixed do' solfege taught outside the U.S.?
Late Bloomer Offline
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 Quote:
Originally posted by Boira:
AHA! I just had a light bulb moment!

Your scales ALWAYS begin with a DO! DO is how you call the 1st[/b] note on your scales, no matter how low or high the pitch is!
You name with the syllable the position on the scale, not the pitch.
Is that it?[/b]
Yes, if it is a major scale, then that's it. With moveable do, the first note of any major scale is called do.

If it is a minor scale, then it depends on which tradition of moveable do you are talking about. One tradition starts all minor scales with la, and the other tradition starts all minor scales with do. People tend to favor one or the other. I would guess that in Europe you are more likely to find la-minor, because that is the English approach and the Kodály approach.

[Edit: That's the second time in this thread I have been beaten by currawong in replying to a post. Oh well.]

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#935145 - 08/06/08 07:49 AM Re: How is 'fixed do' solfege taught outside the U.S.?
keystring Offline
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 Quote:
The thing that bothers me about learning moveable Do first (as a child) is that you really cannot hear and internalize the actual pitches of the notes.
I'm the ultimate guinea pig since I had m.Do around age 8 in the classroom and nothing else afterward - I learned note reading a few years ago in my late 40's and really clued in on pitch as a separate entity last year. But I've always been quite in tune in comparison to many untaught amateurs. Some sopranos in the first most amateur choir told me that they used me as a reference. I suppose that I held steady through relativity since I placed my notes on that invisible solfege ladder, but I had to have some awareness of pitch to be able to do so.

I became a tiny bit aware of pitch as an entity while in the choir that did Brahms, Bach etc. because you would have a long pause while the other voices twiddled along modulations and then suddenly start of "fa" which was C - I tried to hold on to the sound of that C so that I could hit it square centre: that was pitch as pitch.

When I did the ear training and had to think the pitch while singing m.d. solfege names, or sing the pitch names while thinking m.d.s. I became aware consciously that I kept encountering that C in different contexts. I was also developing some degree of absolute pitch. The day that I actually caught on to the perception of pitch as pitch which is always the same I was mind boggled. I realized to what extent my perception of music is tied into the structure of scales, and that most people perceive music as a series of pitches and might not even have that context in their system while they listen, sing or play.

The understanding made me more accurate and I was less likely to drift when singing a capella. It was easier to handle "modern" music which often doesn't have a clear context in a scale. But I did have a sense of pitch before this. The difference is that now it has happened that I have sung a scale and my violin across the room has vibrated sympathetically on the E string with a loud "ping" when I sang E. It is aware pitch and it is more accurate. I'd say that they are two entirely different perceptions of musical reality. I also have had the impression that some people who have only had pitch, when they have to learn m.D seem to "translate" rather than come into it as a different reality and concept. (?)

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#935146 - 08/06/08 03:04 PM Re: How is 'fixed do' solfege taught outside the U.S.?
Boira Offline
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 Quote:
Originally posted by Late Bloomer:
I'm curious---do you have to sing solfege in all seven clefs? All of the fixed do books I have seen use all seven clefs, so I'm wondering if it is an integral part of the system.

Also, do you sometimes have to speak solfege in rhythm? That is the approach of another fixed do book I have, Rhythmical Articulation by Pasquale Bona (published by G. Schirmer in the U.S., like the Eslava book).
[/b]
In advanced courses and specially if you study at the Conservatory, you must read fluently all clefs.
Of course, depending on the instrument/s you play, (and outside the Conservatories) you're not expected to read every clef at full speed. However, all the clefs are teached to the alumni because they need to be able to identificate the notes as a part of a well rounded musical education.

Needless to say, if you're not interested in theory you don't need any of that.

The usual path for solfege students is begining with the sol clef, then fa clef in 4th, later Do clef in 2nd...
I'm at a stage where can read fluently sol, fa and do clefs but nothing more. I'm able to identify the others but can't read "live".

Part II: Rhythm! yes, we have to read solfege in rhythm. As soon as the concept of note names rhythm is introduced, we proceed with the rhythmical articulation. First, just with a neutral sillable: TA. Later on with real notes.
Solfege are group lessons, and sometimes when we read rhythms the exercice ends up in some sort of atonal abstract cacophony, to the horror of our teacher \:D

Almost forgot: when you're singing, you don't say the name of the accidentals, just the name of the note. It would ruin the rhythm trying to fit the words 'sostenido' or 'doble bemol' in the middle of a group of semiquavers.

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#935147 - 08/06/08 03:41 PM Re: How is 'fixed do' solfege taught outside the U.S.?
keystring Offline
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Boira, what does 4th and 2nd mean in "fa clef in 4th, Do clef in 2nd" refer to? It sounds like a thorough and effective program.

KS

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#935148 - 08/07/08 12:53 AM Re: How is 'fixed do' solfege taught outside the U.S.?
pianobuff Offline
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 Quote:
Originally posted by Late Bloomer:
 Quote:
Originally posted by pianobuff:
The thing that bothers me about learning moveable Do first (as a child) is that you really cannot hear and internalize the actual pitches of the notes.[/b]
Do you mean that the child "cannot hear and internalize the actual pitches of the notes" until he or she studies fixed do? Or do you mean that there is a lasting disadvantage to learning moveable do first, something that persists even after fixed do is studied later? [/b]
I would think it would be more difficult, yes. But then according to keystring's post maybe not.

I think that moveable Do is excellent for training the ear to hear intervals in a relative manner.

Fixed Do is obviously more absolute. The reason I teach solfege to children, and I mean to 4 year olds and older, is so they can internalize and develop an absolute ear for the pieces they are learning. This would be impossible to do using the moveable Do system. For them Do is Do. I do not use letter names when I teach beginning students. Singing in solfege, their melodies also sounds beautiful which, imo, develops musicality and sensitivity in their playing.

Moveable Do, is a tool for something else and can quite easily be learned later.
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#935149 - 08/07/08 03:51 AM Re: How is 'fixed do' solfege taught outside the U.S.?
Late Bloomer Offline
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pianobuff,

When teaching fixed do to your very young students, do you spend a lot of time with just the white key notes before introducing any sharps or flats?

One of the fixed do method books I have, Solfège des Solfèges by A. Dannhäuser (yet another G. Schirmer reprint), uses no sharps or flats for the first 75 or so exercises. All of the notes of the C major scale appear from the very beginning. The intent seems to be to strongly associate each syllable with one and only one pitch class, and only then move on to altered notes. But using the entire major scale from the start makes it impossible to use any major key but C at this stage. If the student already knows moveable do, the exercises simply reinforce it.

I am more familiar with the Kodály approach of beginning with just two notes of the scale (so-mi) and slowly adding the others. I wonder how well a hybrid approach would work, especially with students who already know moveable do.

For example, the Kodály approach uses pentatonic melodies quite a bit. Each of these melodies can be sung in three different keys without requiring any sharps or flats. Doing so with fixed do syllables would provide a simple contrast with moveable do early on.

Edit: One other thing about the book by Dannhäuser is that when it does introduce sharps and flats, each one is used as an accidental before being used in key signatures. The book by Eslava does the same thing. Again, this is different from the Kodály approach I learned, where you'd see a lot of purely diatonic, non-modulating pieces in several keys before seeing any accidentals.

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#935150 - 08/07/08 05:07 AM Re: How is 'fixed do' solfege taught outside the U.S.?
Late Bloomer Offline
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 Quote:
Originally posted by Boira:
Needless to say, if you're not interested in theory you don't need any of that [clef study].[/b]
I have read that one of the practical reasons students are asked to learn all seven clefs is to aid in transposition. Any line or space on the staff can be made a C using one of the seven clefs. If the student knows all seven clefs well, then to transpose he or she must simply read the notes as if they were in a different clef (and key signature). Accidentals must be treated specially.

The beauty of this method, so I'm told, is that it works well for reading from multiple staves at once. The worst case would be reading from an orchestral score that includes parts for transposing instruments.

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#935151 - 08/07/08 05:16 AM Re: How is 'fixed do' solfege taught outside the U.S.?
Boira Offline
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Keystring, there're 7 different clefs because you can give middle C (central DO) seven different positions.
The numerals 4th, 3th... are the line number where you 'pin' the clef.



Of course you don't use them all, and some of them are now out of use. They are still taught only for historical reasons.
Ex. I can read now Do clef but the moment I pass the exam I'm going to loose my fluency because I'll never need it again. Of course at any given moment I could tell te notes' names, but bye-bye speed.

I've found this wikipedia entry about clefs in English but it doesn't eleborate too much on the topic. I like better the French version.
Here's another document in French you may find interesting.

Somewhere in the dephts of one of my hard disks, there must be a diagram with all the clefs. One of these days I should put the folders in order...

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#935152 - 08/07/08 05:38 AM Re: How is 'fixed do' solfege taught outside the U.S.?
Boira Offline
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LB, we learn all clefs, do our exercices and take our exams, but that doesn't mean that every amateur music student later on is able to read fluently them all and transpose at will on the fly.
Saying "hey, I know all clefs I read them all" as if I could pick up any music sheet in any clef and start reading it at full speed would be pretentious. Or taking an orchestral score and reading it like Barenboim.
Conservatory students can do that. Simple mortal amateurs don't.

 Quote:
One of the fixed do method books I have, Solfège des Solfèges by A. Dannhäuser (yet another G. Schirmer reprint), uses no sharps or flats for the first 75 or so exercises. All of the notes of the C major scale appear from the very beginning. The intent seems to be to strongly associate each syllable with one and only one pitch class [/b]
Wow, I never eleborated on that because I thought it was the 'universal' way to teach the 7 notes from day one.
Are the notes introduced to you in a different way? How? Gradually?

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#935153 - 08/07/08 06:07 AM Re: How is 'fixed do' solfege taught outside the U.S.?
Late Bloomer Offline
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Posts: 70
 Quote:
Originally posted by Boira:
[...]I thought it was the 'universal' way to teach the 7 notes from day one.
Are the notes introduced to you in a different way? How? Gradually?[/b]
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kod%C3%A1ly_Method#Melodic_sequence_and_pentatony

The Kodály method is not taught universally in the U.S. by any stretch, but it is popular here, and it is the method I studied.

Edit: Let me make sure I'm clear. I studied the Kodály method as an adult by going to workshops at a local university, not as a child. It was my first training in any kind of solfege.

I first learned staff notation when I took group lessons with the saxophone section of the school band at around age 9. The notes of the treble clef were introduced to us one at a time along with fingerings for each one. I remember it went very slowly.

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#935154 - 08/07/08 07:12 AM Re: How is 'fixed do' solfege taught outside the U.S.?
Boira Offline
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Thanks for the link LB.

This is really interesting! And they say music is an universal languague.... \:D

More or less I'm putting the pieces of the jigsaw together and everything starts to make sense.

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#935155 - 08/07/08 07:21 AM Re: How is 'fixed do' solfege taught outside the U.S.?
keystring Offline
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A note on "learning" the notes of the seven clefs. If you understand that a particular part of the clef points to a given pitch/note then you can read all seven clefs immediately - it just isn't automatic. I.e. all the C clefs point to Middle C (middle Do) with that middle hook. There is, however, a good reason for spending the time to learn them systematically in the way that you are doing, Boira. I also have the impression that it could benefit anyone. (I'm thinking of adopting it. \:\) )

I worked systematically on sight reading (piano) this year. I discovered by accident that ** I can sight read four part pieces that have four different clefs ... prima vista ***. In reviewing my old theory, I wanted to hear what I had written, and out of curiosity also tried to play transcriptions to open score, to whit:

I was able to play this prima vista HT all four clefs*(very slowly) even though I had not practised the C clefs. The reading strategy was intervalic while knowing what the notes were going from the indicator-note** of the clef.

I can also sight-sing any of these sections of the open score, naming them as notes (alphabetical), or "la-la-la" including in the correct pitch provided that I have found the starting pitch via piano.

The reason I can do that is approach rather than prowess. I approach the notes a particular way.


** (I've just invented a term, "indicator note". On the (G) treble clef, the clef is called G, it is a stylized G, and it curls around the line of G. So G is the "indicator notes" from which you can find all other notes if you don't know this clef.)

* [edited: originally I grew an exta pair of hands. oops]

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#935156 - 08/07/08 07:49 AM Re: How is 'fixed do' solfege taught outside the U.S.?
keystring Offline
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I think that our three ways of learning can be compiled to give an interesting full picture. This is fascinating!

1. There are two ways of perceiving the notes of music here. a) Used especially when learning music audially by rote, where you hear a melody within the framework of the familiar major and minor scales. You are "moving inside that framework" which gives you context and a reference point. When we learn little children's songs we're probably in that system subconsciously as we pick up that pattern. This system breaks down in "modern" or "foreign" music when it doesn't use major & minor scales and does funny things with the notes. In this system you tend to see a series of related notes forming patterns --- like the old neumes. You may be seeing this purely as sound if you do not have written music. With written music, you are seeing it in the framework of oral patterns. The sound-element is a strong one.

b) A perception by individual pitches which have names, one at a time. Also perceiving intervals between the pitches such as Maj2 P4, and being able to sing a P4 up from the previous note. You will probably have a small amount of scale-awareness as well. This would be the prevalent modern way.

Reading music well is easiest if you have a handle on both. They are two different ways of perceiving music and musical notes.

Boira: The method you are learning addresses pitches and pitch names, which are assigned the solfa syllables used in your country. It is good for you to be working on each clef individually, in order to get some automatism. In the same way, a violinist switching to viola can quickly pick up the alto clef (viola music alternates between two clefs) but he has to practice it for it to become a reflex. We use our bodies, minds,and senses in music and all three must be trained, as well as integrated with each other.

But in fact, since the same notes always go up and down the scale, once you know one clef you are able to read all clefs if you know the order of the notes. That is why I could sight read the passage I posted.

I think I'll write separate posts in order to not make this too long.

A second thought: fixed do and letter names is the same thing. Imho, it should be easier for a person with fixed do to also learn letter names than the other way around, because letters are the order of the alphabet which you already know. You might associate some key notes in your mind, such as sol = G, la = A and do = C, since these are significant notes in C major (tonic and dominant of the major scale, tonic of the relative minor). You don't really need such an association but it could work as a focal point if you get disoriented for a moment. The *first* association is between the pitch name and the place on the keyboard - and if you have some perfect pitch, the actual pitch. Associating the name with what it represents is a way of remembering things. The alphabetical order is a memnonic device.

The reason that the author of Softmozart prefered fixed do was because it could be linked with an association with objects that were not abstract but real in a person's mind, such as door, ray, mirror. This is supposed to give a kind of multifaceted memory. The original practitioners did not consider objects. Do was Ut, and Ut was the first word in a piece of music that Guida d'Arezzi composed for that purpose, using one of the ritual religious chants that all church singers had to memorize. This is how you ended up with Do, Re, Mi, Fa.... which you, unlike the old church singers, had to memorize as syllable names without association.

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#935157 - 08/07/08 09:35 AM Re: How is 'fixed do' solfege taught outside the U.S.?
keystring Offline
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Continuing: Movable do solfege (MDS), Kodály, Curwen. (With Curwen I finally know what the "British connection" is that I had written about imperfectly before.) These are off-shoots of an older system. Late Beginner, in what you describe, it was also geared toward your instrument, so that you associated the fingering with the solfege names and I suspect that pitch recognition came through the back door unnoticed as well. To understand it all we have to go back in time.

The singers in the Middle Ages memorized everything by hearing it. They had hundreds of liturgical melodies in plainchant, and memorizing them took a long time. There was not a system of major and minor scales, tonal centres like now. There were seven church modes, which you can duplicate by playing the white keys from C to C (do to do), D to D (mi to mi) etc. - you end up with a particular order of intervals. In the same way, our modern major scale with its WWSWWWS is a sequence of intervals. Roughly speaking, that was their music. They would not have had to worry about C# etc. most of the time.

When Charlemagne was given the title of Holy Roman Emperor he had to promise the pope that he would unify church services across that empire. The church music had developed independently. With no written music or modern devices, the southern monks had to enter each religious building in every town of every country and teach all the liturgy to every single man and boy. The northerners also resented this foreign material, while the southern monks wanted to feel superior and actually taught as badly as they could. Except that the pope was visiting churches in disguise and caught what they were doing. He got two of his men to infiltrate Charlemagne's men, go to the north as "one of them" and they taught the proper music. However, there was a need of a system.

The monochord was one teaching device: a one-string box with pressure points so that the intervals in use could be reproduced. modern didactic monochord and basic monochord The notes were in two groups of four (tetrachords). If you look at the modern major scale, it's actually two identical interval groupings with a note in the middle (WWS)W(WWS) \:\) Being able to hear and visually see the intervals was already a help to young singers.

Guido d'Arezzi systemized this. He created hand signals, and he created a way of writing these note-groups, or modes. It was like magic for the people of the time, to be able to sing something that had not been demonstrated.

In the Guidonean hand Guidonean hand or historically historical hand singers were trained to sing a certain sequence of notes intervalically within the framework of the modes, stimulated by what part of the hand the choirmaster/teacher pointed at. You can print out the first hand, trace the notes in order using different coloured pencils, from Ut C to La A (there is no Ti) Guido's hand goes up in order in the way the chart I was taught goes up in the order of higher and lower notes.

Before this, singers memorized little note-groups, like mini-melodies (hence the neumes), and memorized the music as a whole. (We would do well to get a part of that back?) Now for the first time they were considering notes by interval, one note following the next. Also new: associating those notes with an outside stimulus: monochord, hand signal, written note. This was mind boggling for them.

Why does that matter to us? Because we are coming from the opposite and we no longer have their perspective, which completes it. They were already within the framework of the musical patterns and the underlying structure of their modes. The movable do solfege attempts to put us back inside such a framework for context, and it is geared especially for singing. By accident of circumstance this became my modus operandi since I was taught nothing else than that little chart, at age 8, and then nothing.

D'Arezzi's system was invented at a time when music was based on church modes, with only six notes (do re mi fa sol la), there was no sense of key note, no "ti" which is the important leading note of modern music. It was also created when the primary form of music was singing and instruments played a negigeable part. There was a limited number of chants, and the first more complex music involved another chant weaving in and out of the first chant without any thoughts chord progression in the modern sense. They thought horizontally instead of vertically. They thought one melody at a time. For a while polyphonic vocal music might even have two or three languages going!

So all in all, this form of music and notation involves music and musicians who are operating in a much different frame of mind than now. However, while our modern musical system & mindset is very efficient and precise, something got lost. Plus singers need some help. So we have ** Curwen ** in the 1800's in that one place in Britain devising something to help his singers. Kodály adopts something from Curwen. Curwen faces the problem that modern music is no longer modal, we have that seventh note and the music is less restricted. So his is called the ** tonic ** movable do system.

The attributes of the movable do notes in the Curwen diagram shown by Late Beginner are actually the kinds of moods or flavours that would be second nature to the singers of old. They almost don't work for someone playing an instrument such as the piano, since you cannot control pitch. Instead, you get those flavours of the degrees of the note to a large degree through chords. Different kinds of chords create tension and resolution. As a singer and violin student I always feel a certain kind of "blindness" to the tempered tuning of the piano because I cannot adjust the pitch in order to create that flavour in the melody.

In the hand signals of Curwen, there is an attempt to create a sensitivity to the flavour or characteristic of the degrees of a major scale. The senses are to have a double association: you see the hand in a particular shape, and you think of the third degree, the name "mi" as a degree name, and this sits inside your "sense of a scale". You already have this sitting inside you. Try to sing a major scale but stop at the 7th note. You are just itching to sing the tonic, aren't you? Or if I stop at the 7th you'll have the overwhelming urge to finish it for me. The "flavour" of the 7th note is that of an irresistable pull toward the tonic. When we sense and recognize these flavours, it orients us in the music we play or hear. It's like getting a sixth sense. That is what Curwen's system is about. Additionally, if you are a singer or violin player you are actually adjusting your pitch. The F# as 7th note in G major will be a hair's breath higher than the F# of F# minor, because the 7th note is less than a semitone from G, since it's pulling into that G like with a magnet.

Kodály worked with modern music, and I understand that he also looked at how our bodies, senses, perceptions worked together for stimulus-response and whatever. He was also addressing the particular needs of instrumental music, as opposed to singing. He created his system, and included some of the earlier works.

I have the impression that a great many people working with these older things are coming from the context of modern thinking, and will "translate" into modern terms so that we get some interesting hybrids.

In my own raw formation, I could readily "transpose" without knowing note names (or anything, really). These "flavours" were instinctive through that first little chart. When I heard or read music, a certain note would "sound like it's do (tonic)" or "sound like it's la (tonic of the minor)" - and if it "sounded like la" it was in a minor key. If the music modulated from C major to G major, I didn't think of it as a modulation. I would think "Oh - that pitch which was sol now has renamed itself, and it is do" (i.e. I'm now considering this pitch to be the new tonic). I could flow effortlessly along a lot of music, and the "renaming" of notes happened almost subconsciously. It broke down with more complex music. I think that is what these various systems are trying to duplicated. I would rather have the "sense" of the music than associating it through these hand signals. With the system I learned, we still had the sequence of notes going up and down. I feel uncomfortable about these individual flavours.

I understand that those who went under the stringent Russian system would have learned fixed do, but in a manner that they also have these "flavours" - both perspectives at the same time. I am aiming for the same thing, since I already have a foot in both doors.

For me, the name of the Movable Do "notes" make me absolutely oriented and sure. If I hear a piece or play a piece, I can sing it as MD notes immediately, as though someone were dictating them to me. I can transcribe "by sound" in that manner, singing and dictating it to myself. I will also play any melody on any instrument in any key though I might have to hunt for a certain tone, because of perceiving this way. However, there are serious weaknesses, which is why I'm doggedly pursuing the conventional way.

I just found a page of the Requiem where I scribbled M.D.solfege notes over the melismatic passage when I was getting lost. I learned that passage by singing the notes per syllables. You can see the mental process as it was about three years ago, with the two systems sort of meeting. The last bars have a thick line along Bb which fixed the tonic for me because I was thinking in movable do.
solfegification \:\)

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#935158 - 08/07/08 09:38 AM Re: How is 'fixed do' solfege taught outside the U.S.?
keystring Offline
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 Quote:
More or less I'm putting the pieces of the jigsaw together
Hm - maybe that's what we're doing, in fact. How wonderful this global existence via the Net can be - amazing. ... Maybe justifies the fact that three students have written a "book" in the middle of the Teacher forum (admittedly the biggest culprit) \:o

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#935159 - 08/07/08 10:25 AM Re: How is 'fixed do' solfege taught outside the U.S.?
keystring Offline
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 Quote:
Keystring, there're 7 different clefs because you can give middle C (central DO) seven different positions. The numerals 4th, 3th... are the line number where you 'pin' the clef
Now I understand this view - also via your link:
 Quote:
La première est la clef de Sol. Elle fixe la position de la note Sol sur la deuxième ligne. On parle parfois de la clef de sol deuxième, pour ne pas la confondre avec la dernière, qui possède le même symbole mais qui est placée sur la première ligne
[translation] "The first is the Sol (treble, G) clef. It designates the position of teh note Sol (G) on the second line. It is sometimes refered to as the "Sol of the second" in order to not confuse it with the last image which has the same symbol, but is placed on the first line."

It must create a greater accuracy if producing the clefs to know what line the "indicating note" will be on. Visually you will see it at a glance, but then your two treble (G) clefs still need to be named when refering to it.

I learned of these same clefs by considering their function in terms of voice range (soprano, mezzo, baritone etc.) in the course of learning to draw them, and the uncommon ones were mentioned briefly in theory. But since only the common ones were used (treble = G on 2nd, bass = F, and the two C-clefs for alto and tenor) it was not hard to remember the positions of each. Visual was enough. However, I really like this reference to lines, as well as the "reference note" which I think should help immensely in being able to read music. How many people are struggling with FACE EGBDF and memnonics, and then get lost inside a staff?

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#935160 - 08/07/08 11:21 AM Re: How is 'fixed do' solfege taught outside the U.S.?
Boira Offline
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Registered: 07/09/07
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Loc: Barcelona
This is really fascinating!
There's some more jigsaw pieces in place now \:\)

Maybe the fixed do students [we] have to learn all the clefs in order to be able to transpose more or less comfortablily, given the fact that we're missing the fixable do approach.

 Quote:
One other thing about the book by Dannhäuser is that when it does introduce sharps and flats, each one is used as an accidental before being used in key signatures. The book by Eslava does the same thing. Again, this is different from the Kodály approach I learned, where you'd see a lot of purely diatonic, non-modulating pieces in several keys before seeing any accidentals.[/b]
Yes of course, that's the way you first get to know what a sharp or a flat (sostenido or bemol) is. I'm getting really curious about your method. Can't wait untill Saturday to be off work and go shopping for some books. LB, some posts ago when you said students start with two notes, I didn'y fully understand that you meant only two notes. After reading the link about the Kodáli method, is clear now.

Oh my! I never thought that concepts like pitch, notes, clefs, acidentals could be teached from such different angles. Pedagogy is a fascinating subject!

Before you're introduced to the concept of scale or key signature, you are taught how a note can be individually modulated. From day one, you get 7 notes. No idea yet about concepts like tone or semitone. Just 7 notes. Then, accidentals. Later, key signatures (yes, before the concept of scale). But one day, oh surprise, what happens with mi-fa and si-do? Here they come then the scales.

Now that we're on it, I have to say that my first two years of solfege were away from any musical instrument. Only voice. Words like 'white keys' or 'black keys' have no meaning at all.
Years ago, Spanish Conservatories made the alumni take 1-year courses in theory and solfege before[/b] starting with any[/b] instrument. So did many schools. Students' theory knowledge must be well ahead of their playing habilities, that was the idea. Did it worked the same way overseas? Nowadays this has changed and you start playing and learning theory at the same time. No idea if this approach is better or worse, but I definitely see the benefit of having a good theory base under your belt before you sit in front of 88 menacing keys. At least in my case, I've found it extremely useful. That doesn't mean my fingers play better, far from it. But knowing beforehand the meaning of what you do, why you do this or that, has made my learning easier.

Keystring, I'm reading your last entries in detail, I'll comment on them later.

* * * *

I've also noticed that 3 naughty students are invading the teachers forum with their solfege adventures.... I only hope that as long as we're not too noisy, don't stick chewing gum under the table and don't stik our fingers up our noses, teachers won't be too angry at us \:\)

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#935161 - 08/07/08 06:21 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:
[...]since the same notes always go up and down the scale, once you know one clef you are able to read all clefs if you know the order of the notes.[/b]
In practice, I find that music that moves mostly by step is much easier to read this way than music with a lot of leaps in it, particularly when the leaps are large.

Bona's Rhythmical Articulation isolates the note identification part of clef reading, setting aside pitch, because the student is asked to speak the solfege syllables in rhythm instead of singing them.

The book has a preface explaining all seven clefs, but every exercise in the book is written in treble clef. Why? An acquaintance of mine who used the book at Mannes (an American conservatory) explained that students read all the exercises in all clefs. So even though every exercise is written in treble clef, a student may be asked to imagine any one of the other six clefs and speak the resulting solfege syllables in rhythm.

The first few exercises simply work through all intervals of a particular size, such as fifths (do sol re la mi si...), and let me tell you, even with such simple exercises it is hard to speak the solfege in all clefs at a reasonable speed! I really forces you to read by intervals.
 Quote:
Originally posted by keystring:
I have the impression that a great many people working with these older things are coming from the context of modern thinking, and will "translate" into modern terms so that we get some interesting hybrids.[/b]
You mean like the variety of moveable do that always uses do as the tonic, even in minor keys? That system actually works very well for common practice music, as well as things such as the blues that blur the distinction between major and minor, but it is not 'backward compatible' with pre-tonal music in the way that Kodály-style moveable do and fixed do are.
 Quote:
Originally posted by keystring:
I understand that those who went under the stringent Russian system would have learned fixed do, but in a manner that they also have these "flavours" - both perspectives at the same time.[/b]
This is exactly the sort of thing that prompted me to create this thread in the first place. There is nothing inherent in the fixed do system that forces an awareness of scale degree functions, but we know anecdotally that some students of fixed do develop that awareness, without the need of a separate system of moveable syllables. The question is, what way(s) of teaching fixed do produce this result? Did anyone ever write it down for posterity? I still don't know.

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#935162 - 08/07/08 07:08 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 Boira:
 Quote:
Originally posted by Late Bloomer:

One other thing about the book by Dannhäuser is that when it does introduce sharps and flats, each one is used as an accidental before being used in key signatures. The book by Eslava does the same thing. Again, this is different from the Kodály approach I learned, where you'd see a lot of purely diatonic, non-modulating pieces in several keys before seeing any accidentals.[/b]
Yes of course, that's the way you first get to know what a sharp or a flat (sostenido or bemol) is.[/b]
In the Kodály approach, you don't need to know what sharps or flats are if they are used only in the key signature and not as accidentals. As long as students are well acquainted with the sounds of a major scale, they can sing a piece in any major key that uses only the notes of the scale. They just need to be told where 'do' (the tonic) is and they're off and running.

So a note like F-sharp would be used in pieces in G major (where it is the seventh scale degree) before being used in G minor (where it is the raised seventh scale degree in the harmonic and melodic minor scales) or A minor (where it is the raised sixth scale degree in the melodic minor scale), and only later would it be used in C major (where it is the raised fourth scale degree).

It's all about the 'roles' for pitches that keystring mentioned. The Kodály approach is organized around the roles instead of the pitches themselves or their notation. The simplest roles, unaltered scale degrees, are introduced first, and even those roles are not introduced all at once, but in a particular order. The raised seventh of the harmonic minor scale is the next role to be learned. Then the raised sixth of the melodic minor scale. And so on.

Another important aspect of the Kodály approach is that familiarity with sounds comes before theory and notation. A young student singing a piece in G major using moveable do may not understand what an F-sharp is, but he or she understands 'ti' and the role that it represents.
 Quote:
Originally posted by Boira:
Years ago, Spanish Conservatories made the alumni take 1-year courses in theory and solfege before starting with any instrument. So did many schools. Students' theory knowledge must be well ahead of their playing habilities, that was the idea. Did it worked the same way overseas?[/b]
Kodály advocated something similar. I don't think this approach is common in the United States today, and it may never have been. But I wish I had been taught this way. I spent several years just singing anyway; it would have been a good time for it.

When I was taught to read staff notation in my saxophone lessons, not only was I not taught solfege, but I was not even taught the concept of a transposing instrument. It was more like, "When you see this note, push these fingers down and blow." The fact that my C was not the piano's C was not explained. And when I switched from alto sax to tenor sax, the pitch of C changed again! But I sure knew which fingers to push. :rolleyes:
 Quote:
Originally posted by Boira:
[...]3 naughty students are invading the teachers forum with their solfege adventures....[/b]
My intent in posting in this forum was that some teachers would respond saying, "Yes, I teach fixed do and here's how I do it." And we have gotten some posts along those lines. I do hope that our "students' adventures in solfege" posts aren't too distracting.

That said, I think I need to cut back on how often I visit the forums.... It is beginning to interfere with my responsibilities. \:D

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#935163 - 08/07/08 07:22 PM Re: How is 'fixed do' solfege taught outside the U.S.?
currawong Offline
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 Quote:
Originally posted by Late Bloomer:
I do hope that our "students' adventures in solfege" posts aren't too distracting.[/b]
Not at all. I for one am finding this discussion fascinating. As a teacher who has taught using Kodaly-style solfa, I could never see the point of fixed do. It's been enlightening. (but I still can't see the point of fixed do \:D )

Just a comment on something keystring mentioned - the Kodaly "system" actually starts with song rather than instrumental playing, and ideally the folksong of the child's own country. This creates some intriguing problems when it's imported to another culture. The way Kodaly begins rhythmically with ta and ti-ti is based on the predominantly simple duple nature of the folksongs he was using. Many of the most commonly sung nursery songs in English-speaking countries are in compound time (you know, Humpty dumpty, Jack and Jill, pop goes the weasel). In the Australian adaptation I was familiar with, they actually had to write a lot of simple duple material especially for the early stages.
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#935164 - 08/07/08 07:24 PM Re: How is 'fixed do' solfege taught outside the U.S.?
currawong Offline
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 Quote:
Originally posted by Late Bloomer:
That said, I think I need to cut back on how often I visit the forums.... [/b]
Ah, easy to say...
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#935165 - 08/08/08 03:35 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
 Quote:
Originally posted by Late Bloomer:

In the Kodály approach, you don't need to know what sharps or flats are if they are used only in the key signature and not as accidentals. As long as students are well acquainted with the sounds of a major scale, they can sing a piece in any major key that uses only the notes of the scale. They just need to be told where 'do' (the tonic) is and they're off and running.
[/b]
Interesting, it's like we're learning backwards. First, the concept of accidental is taught. Later, we're given a 'trick' for not having to write all the accidentals in every note... Uhmmm... I was 6 years old when I was taught all this. Maybe with adult students it's easier for teachers to introduce the concept of scale from the very beginning.


Yes Keystring, that is it:

G clef on 2nd line marks that 2nd line as the G line and indicates where you write your G notes.
F clef on 4th marks the 4th line as the line where you put all your F's
C clef shows you where to write your C's.... etc

That's the reason becuase initally I found confusing (and shocking!) to see people naming Re or Si or whatever a note written on the line of G (sol) in a G (sol) clef.

We've got tattooed in our brains as rule n #1 that
G clef --> G line --> G notes
F clef --> F line --> F notes
C clef --> C line --> C notes...
that's a really easy reasonig, easy to teach to a child and impossible to forget anymore.
What can be simplier than that? (please don't tell me starting every scale with Do, i'm still assimilating that \:D )

Fixed Do and Movable Do name pitches in a different way. No problem, learning 7 new names is no big deal for any of us. It's like translating 7 words into another language.
The funny part are the scales.
You [m.Do] have a second set of names for the grades of the scale. We [f.Do] haven't.
The set of names you have for the grades, are coincident with the names we have for your c, d, e...
In our scales, the names change everytime. The tonic gets the name of the scale and the rest of the grades get renamed accordingly. It's just like if you'd only use the letter names. The tonic in the scale of C (Do) major will be C (Do), but in D (Re) major will be D (Re)...

Now I've almost completed the jigsaw:
Our Do is fixed making our grade's names vary. Your Do is movable to keep your grade's names fixed.

Only one piece is missing in my puzzle: How having a second set of names for the grades (which are fixed), can make transposing easier? That's the thing I still don't get. The only way to find out is studying the movable do method from the start.

Now I have a project!

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#935166 - 08/08/08 04:42 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 Boira:
Interesting, it's like we're learning backwards. First, the concept of accidental is taught. Later, we're given a 'trick' for not having to write all the accidentals in every note... Uhmmm... I was 6 years old when I was taught all this. Maybe with adult students it's easier for teachers to introduce the concept of scale from the very beginning.[/b]
It's not as if the first day of Kodály instruction involves a lecture about what a scale is. The concept is built up implicitly over time through direct experience with the music. Actually naming it with the term 'scale' only happens after the students already know what it sounds like.

As currawong emphasized, the Kodály approach starts with singing. Not instruments, not theory, just singing. And it's meant to be taught to very young children (starting at 5 or 6 years old).

In very early Kodály instruction, the teacher teaches carefully chosen songs to the children by rote (teacher sings, children listen and imitate). The songs contain only the only so and mi in the earliest stages. At first, the note names are not used. Instead, the songs are sung with real words, lyrics. The singing is done in the context of playing games which often involve an emphasis on moving to the beat (clapping, walking, etc.).

After a while of singing the songs, the teacher talks about how some of the words sound high and some of them sound low (the only two scale degrees in use are still so and mi at this point). The teacher has the children play some games that involve distinguishing between the two sounds (for example, by putting your hands on your head when you sing the higher note, and putting your hands on your knees when you sing the lower note).

When the teacher is satisfied that the children understand which sound is high and which is low, then the teacher tells them that the high sound is called so and the low sound is called mi. Later there might be games where the teacher asks, "If this is so [singing], then where is mi?" It's all very gradual, spread out over several lessons.

The pattern is: experience first, theory second (where 'experience' means singing and hearing). When the concept of a scale is eventually taught, it is as a summary of what the children have already learned about certain 'pitch roles' (which they know by solfege syllable) and how the roles relate to one another.

currawong, since you've actually taught this and I've only been to workshops: Am I off the mark here?

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#935167 - 08/08/08 07:14 AM Re: How is 'fixed do' solfege taught outside the U.S.?
keystring Offline
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 Quote:
Only one piece is missing in my puzzle: How having a second set of names for the grades (which are fixed), can make transposing easier? That's the thing I still don't get. The only way to find out is studying the movable do method from the start.
It doesn't make transposing easier. All these things I am reading about Kodaly give me the impression that something very simply has been made rather complicated. It is second nature to me - I would not call it transposing. And I would use it first of all away from any written notes.

Let me try to explain. The movable do syllables simply give me this feeling of an invisible scale. Music usually moves along that scale, right? So by calling the tonic "do" I have a way of feeling where the tonic is. I don't need these syllables at all. I just need to have this "feeling for a scale". But the word "do" immediately sets up this feeling of the tonic like an association. It's like I carrying this big invisible scale-template with me that what I hear sits on. When I hear or read music, then as soon as I recognize the tonic or dominant etc. my mind says "do" or "sol" as a way of fixing where I am in the scale.

I'm not really transposing. If the music has modulated from C major to G major, then I notice that the G "wants to call itself do (tonic)" so then I just start singing those notes with the tonic at that pitch. It makes it easier to sing straightforward music that has modulated.

But recently I have discovered that none of that is necessary. There is no reason for movable do. What you really need is to have the sense of the scale sitting in the background as well as the sense of pitch. I discarded movable do solfege about 5 months ago. I still have the sense of scale degrees, however.

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#935168 - 08/08/08 07:16 AM Re: How is 'fixed do' solfege taught outside the U.S.?
currawong Offline
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 Quote:
Originally posted by Late Bloomer:

As currawong emphasized, the Kodály approach starts with singing. Not instruments, not theory, just singing. And it's meant to be taught to very young children (starting at 5 or 6 years old).

In very early Kodaly instruction, the teacher teaches carefully chosen songs to the children by rote (teacher sings, children listen and imitate). The songs contain only the only so and mi in the earliest stages. At first, the note names are not used. Instead, the songs are sung with real words, lyrics. The singing is done in the context of playing games which often involve an emphasis on moving to the beat (clapping, walking, etc.).

After a while of singing the songs, the teacher talks about how some of the words sound high and some of them sound low (the only two scale degrees in use are still so and mi at this point). The teacher has the children play some games that involve distinguishing between the two sounds (for example, by putting your hands on your head when you sing the higher note, and putting your hands on your knees when you sing the lower note).

When the teacher is satisfied that the children understand which sound is high and which is low, then the teacher tells them that the high sound is called so and the low sound is called mi. Later there might be games where the teacher asks, "If this is so [singing], then where is mi?" It's all very gradual, spread out over several lessons.

The pattern is: experience first, theory second (where 'experience' means singing and hearing). When the concept of a scale is eventually taught, it is as a summary of what the children have already learned about certain 'pitch roles' (which they know by solfege syllable) and how the roles relate to one another.

currawong, since you've actually taught this and I've only been to workshops: Am I off the mark here? [/b]
I don't have time to write more, but no, you're spot on
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#935169 - 08/08/08 07:49 AM Re: How is 'fixed do' solfege taught outside the U.S.?
keystring Offline
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Here's what we did:
We had that primitive chart. The teacher didn't talk about anything - we experienced. We sang all of the notes of the scale right away. Then she pointed at common patterns, for example:
do mi, re fa, mi sol, fa la, sol ti, la do, ti re do.
do re mi do, re mi fa re, mi fa so mi, fa so la fa....
do so do so, re la re la, mi ti mi ti....

The association of notes going up and down, the pointer going on the up and down notes of the chart, the names going up and down, all worked together.

As a result these patterns are deeply entrenched. I can sing the Alberti bass, Clementi, anyhthing that I run across in the same way that I can look around the room and say "telephone, vase, book, floor". I cannot hear a melody or look at a sheet of music and NOT hear those syllables and the intervals. If I look at sheet music I hear it.

I think ours was more subliminal teaching. And it was around 1963.

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#935170 - 08/08/08 12:03 PM Re: How is 'fixed do' solfege taught outside the U.S.?
Late Bloomer Offline
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Clearly Kodály is not the only way of teaching moveable do. It's just the one I know. I think the reason it is so carefully ordered and gradual is to make sure that every student can learn the material, and that if one of them gets confused or falls behind, it is apparent to the teacher as early as possible so that the gap does not get too large.

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#935171 - 08/08/08 12:11 PM Re: How is 'fixed do' solfege taught outside the U.S.?
keystring Offline
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Kodaly does what the earlier system didn't do - address musical instruments. What we had was incredibly primitive and narrow. Maybe it was that narrow simplicity that served me when I had nothing else for most of my life.

I think it's excellent to see how much more is being taught in certain places than when I went to school. They left us in virtual ignorance. Instrumentally it was just too hard to play anything with more than one sharp or flat since I had to sound it all out. Our movable do solfege would not have been sufficient for instruments. If I look at what I can play from the old days, it's all with few or no sharps or flats, starting with Fuer Elise.

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#935172 - 08/08/08 02:33 PM Re: How is 'fixed do' solfege taught outside the U.S.?
pianobuff Offline
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 Quote:
Originally posted by Late Bloomer:
pianobuff,

When teaching fixed do to your very young students, do you spend a lot of time with just the white key notes before introducing any sharps or flats?

One of the fixed do method books I have, Solfège des Solfèges by A. Dannhäuser (yet another G. Schirmer reprint), uses no sharps or flats for the first 75 or so exercises. All of the notes of the C major scale appear from the very beginning. The intent seems to be to strongly associate each syllable with one and only one pitch class, and only then move on to altered notes. But using the entire major scale from the start makes it impossible to use any major key but C at this stage. If the student already knows moveable do, the exercises simply reinforce it.

I am more familiar with the Kodály approach of beginning with just two notes of the scale (so-mi) and slowly adding the others. I wonder how well a hybrid approach would work, especially with students who already know moveable do.

For example, the Kodály approach uses pentatonic melodies quite a bit. Each of these melodies can be sung in three different keys without requiring any sharps or flats. Doing so with fixed do syllables would provide a simple contrast with moveable do early on.

Edit: One other thing about the book by Dannhäuser is that when it does introduce sharps and flats, each one is used as an accidental before being used in key signatures. The book by Eslava does the same thing. Again, this is different from the Kodály approach I learned, where you'd see a lot of purely diatonic, non-modulating pieces in several keys before seeing any accidentals. [/b]
I teach children to play their beginning pieces (folk songs) by ear not by reading the music. So when they hear their pieces we then sing them in solfege first, I then show them the notes on the piano that we had sung... for example I say, "lets get ready over Do with our thumb." I show them Do and then we play the rhythm that they have heard with correct technique etc... and then on to the next note, using that notes fixed syllable name.

Yes, most of the piece are in the key of C, but not all. The first Suzuki book has pieces in A minor, D minor, and G Major as well.

When they do start reading music, I refer to the notes in solfege. We read (play), then sing the notes in solfege, then read (play) the piece again. The reading book sounds similar to what you described in your post, although quite soon after introducing sharps and flats, it is then written (like it should) in the key signature of preceding pieces.

FYI, I teach letter names too. I start this when they start five-finger patterns in all keys, around the middle of Book 1. Scales I teach as well as other theoretcial concepts using letter names.
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#935173 - 08/08/08 03:06 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 Boira:
Only one piece is missing in my puzzle: How having a second set of names for the grades (which are fixed), can make transposing easier?[/b]
If you are singing, moveable do makes transposing easier because you sing the same syllables no matter what key you are singing a song in. For example, you'd sing the opening phrase of "Happy Birthday" as so so la so do ti in every key. You'd only have to learn it once, so to speak. With fixed do, the phrase would be sol sol la sol do si in C major, re re mi re sol fa in G major, and so on. It seems to make transposition harder for a singer than it needs to be.

It's more than that, though. With moveable do, the intervals between the syllables are always the same. For example, there is always a half step between mi and fa and between ti and do. If one of the notes has an accidental, making the interval different, then you use a different syllable for the altered note: me instead of mi, di instead of do, as so on. The solfege represents the intervals precisely enough that it can be used as a notation system in itself, independent of staff notation. In fact, this is actually done in the Kodály approach. It's what the system was originally designed for in 19th-century England: to be a substitute for staff notation. (Note: Kodály does introduce staff notation later.)

This is why moveable do folks find it so shocking that in fixed do, sol, for example, can represent G or G-sharp or G-flat (or G-double-sharp or G-double-flat). They are used to the idea of solfege---not just sung solfege, but spoken or written solfege---as an independent representation of the notes, something you can convert to and from staff notation with no loss of pitch information. This is where the idea that fixed do is 'approximate' comes from.

Anyway, back to transposition. Transposition is not so natural and easy with (most?) instruments as it is with the voice. How much moveable do helps with transposing on instruments is a separate question.

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#935174 - 08/08/08 03:49 PM Re: How is 'fixed do' solfege taught outside the U.S.?
keystring Offline
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When I transpose music on paper I use the audiation factor (hearing what you read) of movabel do only to check my work. It is much more safe to know "From C major to F major = P4 - change key signature - move each note up 4 (count 1,2,3,4)" When I finish, however, I will sing it to check my work.

Whe writing out modes I go pure m.d.solfege - it just makes sense.

On the other hand, if I'm given a sequence of notes with accidentals and I'm supposed to see what kind of scale it is, I might well sing it intervalically and "listen" for which scale it fits into.

I'm constantly moving between the systems. It's like having different aspects of the same music at your fingertps.

 Quote:
Anyway, back to transposition. Transposition is not so natural and easy with (most?) instruments as it is with the voice. How much moveable do helps with transposing on instruments is a separate question.
I play alto recorder which isn't officially a transposing but I have a Handel sonata where the alto music has been transposed.

If you have a transposing instrument the transposition has been done for you, no? But then you might hear something in concert pitch. I suppose you can run the melody in your mind, find the tonic, and then fiddle around with semitones when your notes are off (what I used to do).

Written transposition is a mental calculation (which I got wrong in the exam, because I transposed up 4 instead of down 5 \:\( ) - it's math. You could be totally unmusical and as long as you can count to 7 you can transpose on paper.

This is fascinating.

KS

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#935175 - 08/08/08 04:14 PM Re: How is 'fixed do' solfege taught outside the U.S.?
Late Bloomer Offline
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What I had in mind when I said 'transposition' was actually playing or singing a tune in at least two different keys, either with staff notation for only one of the keys, or without staff notation altogether.

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#935176 - 08/08/08 04:20 PM Re: How is 'fixed do' solfege taught outside the U.S.?
Late Bloomer Offline
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pianobuff,

What is the first Suzuki book?

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#935177 - 08/08/08 04:24 PM Re: How is 'fixed do' solfege taught outside the U.S.?
keystring Offline
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 Quote:
Originally posted by Late Bloomer:
What I had in mind when I said 'transposition' was actually playing or singing a tune in at least two different keys, using staff notation for at most one of the keys. [/b]
I think for that I still go mostly m.d.solfege. How about you? I experimented with a Clementi to see if it was possible, and it was easy to decide to start in a different key. But I don't know how that work for someone else. I look at the music, I'm reading it, but I'm also hearing it "within the framework of the scale" (like m.d.solfege) I managed to do that with prima vista pieces, but for two handed they had to be simple.

I would play the scale through once and the I chord - then transpose what I'm seeing.

I can transpose a couple of memorized pieces that have Alberti bass - that's m.d. solfege ... or it's audiation, I think.

It's harder with a wind instrument because they have such weird fingering. Is it the same for yours? Like, in piano or violin, if it's a semitone higher, you just move up a semitone. On recorder you might have to cross your fingers and wrinkle your nose to find the fingering to match the pitch you're after.

Then there is Louise Guhl and her "Piano Proficiency". She teaches the finger patterns kinetically. Then you are given a two handed piece and told to play it in three or four different keys prima vista. You use intervals. I learned to transpose that way - it's like "flying blindfolded" - but it worked for me. Maybe this way is better for instruments? Here you'd be working with pitch. A G# would always be a G#. That might be easier to remember.

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#935178 - 08/09/08 03:53 PM Re: How is 'fixed do' solfege taught outside the U.S.?
Late Bloomer Offline
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 Quote:
Originally posted by Late Bloomer:

pianobuff,

What is the first Suzuki book? [/b]
Is it Suzuki Piano School, Volume 1 by Dr. Shinichi Suzuki, published by Alfred?

Edit: Is the 'reading book' that you also referred to in your post the same book?

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#935179 - 08/09/08 08:34 PM Re: How is 'fixed do' solfege taught outside the U.S.?
pianobuff Offline
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 Quote:
Originally posted by Late Bloomer:
 Quote:
Originally posted by Late Bloomer:

pianobuff,

What is the first Suzuki book? [/b]
Is it Suzuki Piano School, Volume 1 by Dr. Shinichi Suzuki, published by Alfred?

Edit: Is the 'reading book' that you also referred to in your post the same book? [/b]
Yes, the first Suzuki Book is how I refered to Suzuki Piano School, Volume 1.

The reading book that I use is titled, Methode Rose, a compilation edited by Van de Velde.
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#935180 - 08/10/08 04:47 PM Re: How is 'fixed do' solfege taught outside the U.S.?
Late Bloomer Offline
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 Quote:
Originally posted by keystring:
 Quote:
Originally posted by Late Bloomer:

What I had in mind when I said 'transposition' was actually playing or singing a tune in at least two different keys, using staff notation for at most one of the keys. [/b]
I think for that I still go mostly m.d.solfege. How about you?[/b]
Well, I haven't practiced using the fixed do system very much, so I can't make a fair decision about whether it would be useful for transposition or not.

When singing, I find that moveable do solfege helps me transpose if I am not familiar with the tune. If I am familiar with the tune, then I don't give any thought to transposition at all, and may not even be aware that I am transposing if the interval of transposition is small enough. For example, my choir director once gave us starting pitches that were a whole step up (on purpose), and most of us didn't notice.

If I'm playing piano, it depends on whether I'm reading or playing by ear. If I'm reading, I don't tend to use solfege at all. If I'm playing by ear, and if I'm disciplined enough not to use my childhood method of "just try stuff and remember what works", I use moveable do solfege as needed to help me be accurate with the starting note, large intervals, etc.
 Quote:
Originally posted by keystring:
It's harder with a wind instrument because they have such weird fingering. Is it the same for yours?[/b]
Sorry, it's been ages since I played saxophone and I no longer have the instrument. I don't remember ever working on transposition when I did play. To answer an earlier question of yours, all the written parts we used were already transposed so that the concert pitch would come out right. We were never given parts written at concert pitch and expected to do the transposition ourselves.
 Quote:
Originally posted by keystring:
Like, in piano or violin, if it's a semitone higher, you just move up a semitone.[/b]
Well, on the piano there's the issue of white keys vs. black keys, which can change the feel of a piece (in the tactile sense) dramatically from one key to another.

On a string instrument... I've never played one, but if transposition were so easy, why would anyone use devices like a capo ?
 Quote:
Originally posted by keystring:
Then there is Louise Guhl and her "Piano Proficiency". She teaches the finger patterns kinetically. Then you are given a two handed piece and told to play it in three or four different keys prima vista.[/b]
This is pretty much how I already sight-read at the piano. I may be able to 'sound out' parts when I'm not playing, but when I am playing, I don't have the extra mental capacity to hear every note in my head just before I play it. Most of the time, the best I can do is to listen after I play each note to see if it sounds reasonable or not.

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#935181 - 08/11/08 03:42 AM Re: How is 'fixed do' solfege taught outside the U.S.?
Boira Offline
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Back again after the weekend parenthesis.

Saturday went to the music shops to see what fDo solfege books (in English) were available. Result: none.
I found, however, some books you may find interesting. One of them is a translation from the original French version, which won't be difficult to find via web.

1- Método graduado de Solfeo [Solfege graded method], by Laz, in 5 volumes. Edited by Boileau, Barcelona.
2- Método de enseñanza de la música por la educación metódica del oído [Music teaching method by the methodically education of the ear], by Gedaige (Professor in the National Conservatory of Paris). Edited by Boileau, Barcelona.
3- Teoría completa de la música [Complete music theory], by Davalillo. Edited also by Boileau.
4- Pentagrama. Música. Ciclo inicial. [Staff. Music. Early stages.]. By Amat.
5- El solfeo no es feo. Oyes lo que lees. De 6 a 106 años. [Solfege is not ugly. You hear what you read. [For people] from 6 to 106 years old]. By Munt, Néstor.


I asked a friend of mine (sound engineering teacher and guitar player) about other method books he may be aware of, an he lended me the four volumes of the Harmony Method edited by the Berklee College of Music (in English). They're not about solfege (only harmony), but at the beginning of volume 1 when the concepts of clefs and staff are introduced, the author uses the G-cleff, F-cleff (G line, F line) aproximation. The idea of *clefs as note indicators on lines* aren't an exclusive feature of the fixed do system then... I have the 4 volumes in pdf format too (about 8,35 MB). Graphic quality is far from explendid, it's an old edition. If anybody wants to take a look at the pdf, just tell me.

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#935182 - 08/11/08 03:45 AM Re: How is 'fixed do' solfege taught outside the U.S.?
keystring Offline
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Boira, I'd be interested in taking a look.

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#935183 - 08/11/08 04:05 AM Re: How is 'fixed do' solfege taught outside the U.S.?
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#935184 - 08/11/08 04:11 AM Re: How is 'fixed do' solfege taught outside the U.S.?
Late Bloomer Offline
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Boira,

Do any of the books have a detailed discussion of how to study fixed do, as opposed to page after page of staff notation with very little discussion?

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#935185 - 08/11/08 04:12 AM Re: How is 'fixed do' solfege taught outside the U.S.?
keystring Offline
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Done! Muchas gracias! \:\)

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#935186 - 08/11/08 04:30 AM Re: How is 'fixed do' solfege taught outside the U.S.?
Boira Offline
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 Quote:
Originally posted by Late Bloomer:
Boira,

Do any of the books have a detailed discussion of how to study fixed do, as opposed to page after page of staff notation with very little discussion? [/b]
No, sorry \:\(
None of them included detailed explanations. Maybe because none on them were intended for self-study. As explanations should come from the teacher and the student must take notes in a separate notebook, few discussion is included on the textbooks.

Well... there's no need either for detailed explanations on how to study fixed do because it's the most logical system and with one little comment from our teacher we have enough \:D

[EDIT to add]:
More seriously, maybe the first contact the student makes with solfege (mDo or fDo) is accepted as the most logical.
I'm still trying to find the benefits of a tonic allways called Do no matter the pitch... as I suppouse you'd think is weird to have a tonic which name changes constantly :rolleyes:

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#935187 - 08/11/08 06:33 AM Re: How is 'fixed do' solfege taught outside the U.S.?
currawong Offline
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 Quote:
Originally posted by Boira:
I'm still trying to find the benefits of a tonic always called Do no matter the pitch... [/b]
It's because in the movable system "do" is the word for "tonic". \:\)

Actually, I'd be quite content without any solfa syllables, if need be. I'd just use letter names for fixed pitch (ABC) and numbers for scale degrees (123).
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#935188 - 08/11/08 03:32 PM Re: How is 'fixed do' solfege taught outside the U.S.?
Late Bloomer Offline
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 Quote:
Originally posted by Boira:
None of [the books] included detailed explanations. Maybe because none on them were intended for self-study. As explanations should come from the teacher and the student must take notes in a separate notebook, few discussion is included on the textbooks.[/b]
Perhaps a teacher's manual then? Eventually, I plan to teach ear training, sight-singing, and dictation, and I am determined to find out how the rest of the world is doing it.

Edit: I really will have to learn French to get to the bottom of this, won't I?
 Quote:
Originally posted by Boira:
I'm still trying to find the benefits of a tonic always called Do no matter the pitch...[/b]
Don't forget the altered syllables. They are very important. Each syllable identifies one and only one pitch relative to the tonic.

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#935189 - 08/11/08 03:37 PM Re: How is 'fixed do' solfege taught outside the U.S.?
Late Bloomer Offline
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 Quote:
Originally posted by currawong:
Actually, I'd be quite content without any solfa syllables, if need be. I'd just use letter names for fixed pitch (ABC) and numbers for scale degrees (123).[/b]
You wouldn't miss having different syllables for altered scale degrees?

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#935190 - 08/11/08 05:35 PM Re: How is 'fixed do' solfege taught outside the U.S.?
currawong Offline
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 Quote:
Originally posted by Late Bloomer:
 Quote:
Originally posted by currawong:
Actually, I'd be quite content without any solfa syllables, if need be. I'd just use letter names for fixed pitch (ABC) and numbers for scale degrees (123).[/b]
You wouldn't miss having different syllables for altered scale degrees? [/b]
I'd prefer movable do. But "one. two, three, four" are singable too, I suppose (six and seven are a bit more cumbersome). I just think it's very unfortunate that we have two systems using the same terminology to mean two different things, and I can see that realistically we aren't going to change the way some countries refer to the names of specific notes.

*sigh*

Just read your question again and realised you were talking about altered scale degrees, yes? Well yes, that's a loss. "one, two, thraw"?? \:\)
What do the American colleges which use fixed do and numbered scale degrees do for chromatic alterations?
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#935191 - 08/11/08 06:34 PM Re: How is 'fixed do' solfege taught outside the U.S.?
keystring Offline
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What is meant by altered scale degrees? Is that like modes, octatonic or similar?

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#935192 - 08/11/08 06:45 PM Re: How is 'fixed do' solfege taught outside the U.S.?
currawong Offline
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 Quote:
Originally posted by keystring:
What is meant by altered scale degrees? Is that like modes, octatonic or similar? [/b]
Modes, perhaps, but also just any chromatic alteration of a note which happens in a piece for whatever reason. Say for example a tune in C major which incorporates a few chromatic notes - as passing notes perhaps, or melodic decoration (without indicating a modulation, I mean).

That's if I'm talking about the same thing as Late Bloomer. I am, aren't I?
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#935193 - 08/12/08 02:38 AM Re: How is 'fixed do' solfege taught outside the U.S.?
Late Bloomer Offline
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 Quote:
Originally posted by keystring:
What is meant by altered scale degrees? Is that like modes, octatonic or similar? [/b]
I'm pretty sure currawong and I are talking about the same thing, but since I noticed a vocabulary difference earlier in the thread, I feel the need to explain further.

Scale degree is the preferred term in English for what Boira called a 'grade'. Scale degrees are simply the notes of a scale numbered in ascending order of pitch, starting with the tonic as 1.

Let's consider only major scales here to simplify the conversation. Suppose a passage of music is in the key of B major and has the key signature of B major (five sharps). Then the only notes than can be written without accidentals are the notes of the B major scale. Any note that is not in the scale must be written by applying an accidental to a note that is in the scale (for example, applying a sharp to the scale note E). The pitch of the scale note is altered (raised or lowered) by the accidental. The resulting note is an altered scale degree.

Some alterations are considered so drastic that they always(?) imply that a modulation has occurred. For example, if you see a B-double-flat, you are definitely not in the key of B anymore. Other alterations may have nothing to do with modulation, depending on how they are used. For example, the note E-sharp, used as a lower chromatic neighbor to F-sharp in the key of B, would not imply any modulation.

Moveable do provides unique syllables for all of the altered scale degrees that could reasonably be used without implying a modulation (including the lowered fifth degree, which usually does imply a modulation). The initial consonant is always the same as the unaltered note, but the vowel changes. Students must be aware of when altered scale degrees are used in order to choose the right syllable, just as they have to be aware of modulations in order to choose the right 'do'. If they see a note for which they think they have no syllable to use---such as the B-double-flat mentioned above---then it is a clue that they missed a modulation.

For the teacher, simply observing students' choice of syllables as they sing provides constant feedback about whether or not they understand these ideas. Choosing fixed do syllables, on the other hand, does not require analysis. This is not necessarily a bad thing, but it means that the teacher learns comparatively little by observing the syllables chosen. A fixed do student, for example, could in theory sing all the way through a Schubert song with the correct pitches and syllables and have no idea that any modulations had occurred. That is why I need more information on how the system is taught.

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#935194 - 08/12/08 03:18 AM Re: How is 'fixed do' solfege taught outside the U.S.?
pianobuff Offline
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This thread is very interesting.

It seems to me there is definately a preference between moveable do and fixed do systems, when imo, both are very good tools and should both be used when the situation arises to use one or the other.

It really should not be confusing.
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#935195 - 08/12/08 03:41 AM Re: How is 'fixed do' solfege taught outside the U.S.?
Boira Offline
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 Quote:
Originally posted by Late Bloomer:


For the teacher, simply observing students' choice of syllables as they sing provides constant feedback about whether or not they understand these ideas. Choosing fixed do syllables, on the other hand, does not require analysis. This is not necessarily a bad thing, but it means that the teacher learns comparatively little by observing the syllables chosen. A fixed do student, for example, could in theory sing all the way through a Schubert song with the correct pitches and syllables and have no idea that any modulations had occurred. That is why I need more information on how the system is taught. [/b]
LB, I'm afraid we're not understanding each other. Of course we're aware of the modulations. If a mDo student should sing a song using solfege syllabes, wouldn't s/he use these same syllabes even if the key changes? We change the syllabes when we change the key. How can we have no idea if the key has changed?

I've been thinking about this. Beeing honest, I'm thinking about this too much! I'm falling behind schedule of my summer practice.... September is approaching and my pieces aren't ready. :p

Imagine you don't have syllabes at all. Just letter names. That's how we do it, just with the pitches names. To keep your example of "Happy Birthday", transposing the phrase G G A G C B (C major) would be D D E D G F in G maj. One must be able to do that fluently.
Another detail still puzzles me: (your words) moveable do makes transposing easier because you sing the same syllables no matter what key you are singing a song in. Not exactly, it could be only if you always sing solfege syllabes and only that. If you're singing Im Frühling, you wouldn't have any trouble in changing the key because you're singing the same actual lyrics and not syllabes. No matter what kind of solfege you were taught.

I don't know, I still have the feeling that I'm missing something. Something important.
Suppouse you're given a score. In the key of C maj. And you have to transpose on the fly to G maj. You mentally have to 'move' your G's to D's in order to play, regardless of the lyrics (syllabes or whatever). You must know that G becomes D, read the intervals.

How many written and spoken exercices in transposing do you do with your teacher during lessons or as homework? We do a lot, is part of the weekly routine. Could it be that your/our lessons are structured differently and each method focus on a determined skill?

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#935196 - 08/12/08 04:08 AM Re: How is 'fixed do' solfege taught outside the U.S.?
pianobuff Offline
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It is puzzling to me too regarding the modulation thing, when using mdo. I think it would be easier and I hear it and can analyse better using fdo. Fixed Do to me is the same as using letter names, no different, they are just more singable that is all. For example singing a piece in C and then modulating to the dominate, you can mentally take note and hear that you are in the dominant especially because you are sing the syllables of G Major. If it was mdo, it would be the same syllables with pitches in the key of G. But then again, I suppose your mind/ears could adjust and see it this way too, hearing G (Do) as tonic.

Again, I think Mdo is best used in theory for transposition purposes, but now that I am thinking about it I suppose it could be used when singing a complete piece; but you would have to be really on top of your analyses for it to work! Intersting.
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#935197 - 08/12/08 04:09 AM Re: How is 'fixed do' solfege taught outside the U.S.?
currawong Offline
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 Quote:
Originally posted by Boira:

Suppouse you're given a score. In the key of C maj. And you have to transpose on the fly to G maj. You mentally have to 'move' your G's to D's in order to play, regardless of the lyrics (syllables or whatever). You must know that G becomes D, read the intervals. [/b]
But we're not talking "play", we're talking "sing". You don't have to move your Gs to Ds in order to sing in a new key. You just call the new tonic "do" and sing the other notes in relation to do. Movable do solfa is primarily a relative pitch singing aid.

With fixed do, singing a "twinkle twinkle" in G major you are singing so so re re mi mi re. In D major you are singing re re la la ti ti la. In F major you are singing fa fa do do re re do.
With movable do, every time you sing "twinkle twinkle" in any key at all, you are singing do do so so la la so. It's the same tune, and you are singing the same syllables every time.

pianobuff - you say it shouldn't be confusing. I wish it wasn't. But whenever you have the same terminology with different meanings, there is the potential for someone to be confused.
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#935198 - 08/12/08 04:14 AM Re: How is 'fixed do' solfege taught outside the U.S.?
currawong Offline
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 Quote:
Originally posted by pianobuff:
Fixed Do to me is the same as using letter names, no different, they are just more singable that is all. [/b]
Exactly. Then why use them? Because they're more singable. If only they'd picked different singable syllables for the fixed system then we wouldn't be having this conversation (interesting though it is \:\) ). We would know that one was for relative pitch scale degree identification, and one was for absolute pitch note identification.
The problem is that the same syllables are used for two different things. It bugs me, but there's nothing I can do about it \:\) .
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#935199 - 08/12/08 04:20 AM Re: How is 'fixed do' solfege taught outside the U.S.?
Late Bloomer Offline
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 Quote:
Originally posted by Boira:
Of course we're aware of the modulations.[/b]
Boira,

I tried to make it clear that I was not making a sweeping statement about all students of fixed do. I emphasized the word 'could' because I was talking about a hypothetical student. It is difficult for me to walk the tightrope of asking questions without unintentionally being offensive.
 Quote:
Originally posted by Boira:
If a mDo student should sing a song using solfege syllabes, s/he would use these same syllabes even if the key changes. We change the syllabes when we change the key. How can we have no idea if the key has changed?[/b]
Let me talk about a fictional student of fixed do named John. John is asked to sight-sing a piece containing some modulations. He is not asked to transpose the piece, but simply to sing it as written.

While singing, John comes across the note C. If he thinks the music is in the key of C at that point, he calls the note 'do'. If he thinks the music is in the key of G at that point, he still calls the note 'do'. Key of B-flat? 'Do'. Key of C-sharp? 'Do'. How does the teacher, listening, know what key John thinks the music is in at that point? He can't. He would have to stop John and ask him to find out, because John always calls the note 'do' no matter what.

Meanwhile a second student named Bill is studying moveable do in another class. He is asked to sing the same song (in the original key, without transposing, like John), and he comes across the same C in the music. If Bill thinks the music is in the key of C at that point, he calls the note 'do'. If he thinks the music is in the key of G, he calls the note 'fa'. Key of B-flat? 're'. Key of C-sharp?... he would stop and scratch his head if he thought the music was in the key of C-sharp, because in that key a C would be the lowered tonic, and there is no moveable do syllable for the lowered tonic. Bill's teacher can tell what key Bill thinks the music is in when he sees the C by whether Bill calls it a 'do', a 'fa', a 're', or something else.

John may know exactly what is going on in the music---he may understand modulations much better than Bill---but the fact that he calls the C 'do' tells his teacher nothing about his understanding of the structure of the music, because he always calls a C 'do', no matter what the context. The teacher must use other means to test John's understanding of the musical structure.

Does that make sense?

(Transposition is a separate issue. I'll leave that for another post.)

Edit: corrected one of my examples

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#935200 - 08/12/08 05:15 AM Re: How is 'fixed do' solfege taught outside the U.S.?
Boira Offline
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 Quote:
Originally posted by Late Bloomer:
 Quote:
Originally posted by Boira:
Of course we're aware of the modulations.[/b]
Boira,

I tried to make it clear that I was not making a sweeping statement about all students of fixed do. I emphasized the word 'could' because I was talking about a hypothetical student. It is difficult for me to walk the tightrope of asking questions without unintentionally being offensive.
[/b]
No, no, you're not being offensive at all!
I didn't mean to sound harsh. A lot gets lost in translation, and add to that the fact that written communication lacks the visual aid needed to give the words its real meaning.

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#935201 - 08/12/08 06:49 AM Re: How is 'fixed do' solfege taught outside the U.S.?
Boira Offline
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Oh my! LB your last post has made me think about how defficient my communication skills are.

I'm really enjoying this thread and find your (everybody's) point of view interesting (though I don't understand it \:D -yet- )

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#935202 - 08/12/08 06:53 AM Re: How is 'fixed do' solfege taught outside the U.S.?
keystring Offline
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I suspect that something did get changed (lost) in the new way that it is being taught. It is an important change, since it involves perception. This will be hard to set up, because it is so different from what you guys are used to. My perception, in the way it was formed in the 1960 method, begins with a heard sequence of sounds which the mind fits on top of mental template of the major and minor scale *aural* pattern, also heard. There are no isolated notes that will lead to this: it is a grouping fitting itself into a grouping, and it is by sound. Major scales are a sequenced sound-pattern, like a melody and mood (they are modes, in fact). This is the pattern I carry.

Trying to set this up: Our work was oral and had no written music other than the upright solfege chart. What got built into our aural minds was a map of the major/minor scales, and then the common patterns used in music such as Alberti bass (now I recognize it). All of it was by ear. This is has a significant result:

Having only this, I could recognize mD note names only within the pattern of a scale, and only if I heard a group of notes. They had to fit a pattern. This was automatic without analysis: that is the training. What happens is I "hear" (including when reading) the notes as "melody". After 3 - 4 notes, my mind begins naming the notes. The word "mi" pops up automatically. I am still thinking with my ear. It is as if the notes derive their name from their context in a scale, so that context must be heard first. I hear notes in a group as a group. It's as though subconsciously I am then sliding that group back and forth over the major scale until intervalically they match because all the notes line up. But it is automatic, non-thinking, and aural.

This totally aural mentality which goes from ear to voice, will also go from ear to instrument, as though the instrument were a voice.

The same process also goes to written music. My ear immediately searches until it hears the melody within a framework where "that note" calls itself La. It is as though I were still singing, with no written notes in sight. The ear, within the framework of the scale, leads - the written notes are barely there.

When I read music the old way, I will sing a couple of notes and then one of them calls itself La. That's when I have situated myself in a scale, in modern perception I have recognized that note as the 6th degree or 1st of the minor. But that's not how I'm seeing it. I see it related to the tonic, the scale, and the role it plays. I am still hearing the sung scale.

If I play an instrument, the sung scale is still foremost. Even while looking at written notes and playing an instrument, I am hearing what is on the page as a sung melody in the framework of the sung scale, and then I play what I hear. It is rather fluid playing from the start.

Supposing that the music modulates from C major to G major. I don't arrive at that through analysis. I'm singing along, and I suppose that there will be an F# as it modulates, and I'll grab that F# intervalically. The flavour of the G will have changed. Instinctively I will have begun calling the G "Do". I won't be aware that I am now calling it "Do". It happens fluidly and automatically. I am sensing the music with my mind's ear. I hear the music as a grouping and as a whole.

When seeing how others have learned to perceive music, this seems to be a powerful thing. It is a totally different perspective.

There is one occasion where it came to light, and because my teacher has all methods and perspective, he perceived immediately what was happening and "translated" for me:

He had given me a sequence of notes in order to practice shifts on the violin, and I played them by ear. His sequence actually ran back and forth on a major scale starting with the 6th degree - "heard La" and thought I was playing this in the framework of a minor scale. One of the later notes "didn't make sense" and I was paralyzed in confusion. If I had heard this a sequence of intervals, in the modern way, I would have been ok. I played the wrong note and it sounded wrong. - My teacher knows my mD solfege framework, and he called out "Ti". I had my place in the generic major scale and then I was no longer lost. This even would not happen with a modern student.
------------------
Late Beginner, you have learned mD solfege, but it is much closer to the modern pitch-orientation (whether alphabetically or fixed Do). You guys look at the note and analyze it, and then you derive its place in the solfa scale. It happens with the eye first, with consideration of isolated pitch, and by mental analysis. You go from individual notes, to two notes, to getting the context of the whole. I go from the grouping which matches the grouping of a scale, and am in "interval groups" from the beginning.

The modern system seems to be adapted to modern thinking and lies very close to it. It is almost like a translation. It may be superior to what I learned in a number of ways. But I think also this automatism that resides in the ear and almost bypasses the mind does not exist. When I sight read unknown music it flows out almost as fluidly as singing a melody I have heard all my life --- as long as the music is old fashioned enough that it stays in known patterns. This is an advantage I have gained.

-------------
I think that what I learned is for singing. The system began for voice. It is also weak in a number of ways. When I see (hear) notes as a group I may miss one of them, and I won't know what key I'm in. It's not precise, and individual notes are hard to pinpoint at times.

That is why I have moved on to learning conventional reading which is aware of pitch and individual note names, and considers intervals as happening between two adjacent notes, rather than a place a bunch of notes hold within a scale.

 Quote:
.... both are very good tools and should both be used when the situation arises to use one or the other.
That's how it pans out for me. There is no either-or. Movable do situates me within the scale. Pitch-names give something different.

What I am realizing is how absolutely different the reality is between what I learned and the modern way. The difference is almost at a physical level, where the sound leads and the analytical mind is barely there.

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#935203 - 08/12/08 06:59 AM Re: How is 'fixed do' solfege taught outside the U.S.?
keystring Offline
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Late Bloomer, a teacher knowing what a student perceives by hearing what he calls the notes might indeed be valuable.

I'm thinking of the fact that I did not know my notes and was not reading in the conventional sense, but that was not realized until my third year of lessons. I was playing all my scales and arpeggios, and I was playing new music on the page. By all appearances I knew how to read music. But if I had been asked to name the notes of the scale or the notes that I was playing I could not have done so. It would have been caught.

When I saw written music it was in the old singing way I had developed. I fixed where Do was, saw the other notes as runs and arpeggios in large blobs, and my playing went from blob to blob. It was fluid. I also don't intend to lose the ability to read in groups. But I did not know how to read music and I needed that skill. Naming the notes would have revealed it.

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#935204 - 08/12/08 08:33 AM Re: How is 'fixed do' solfege taught outside the U.S.?
currawong Offline
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Just a few brief comments on your experience and how it relates to the movable do system I've used, keystring:

[1] Kodaly-type movable do is vocal and aural. It does not start with the written note. You do not work out the solfa name by looking at the music, not initially anyway. When you do start, you start with concepts such as "if so is this line, mi is the line below". It's a general concept of staff notation before it becomes specific. This is one of the things I really like about it. General concepts first.

[2] Later when music reading has been established in a general way to some extent, letter names are introduced, at least in the version I was using.

[3] Tonic solfa in its English form was used instead of staff notation. Hymns, for example, were notated with s-m-d-l etc written above the words. These could be sung at sight by people instructed in the movable do method who couldn't read staff notation. They learnt that d-s sounded the same no matter what the key. So if you show someone a position on the stave and say "that's do" and play it for them, they can immediately sing so without having to know that E-B is a perfect 5th, or D-A or whatever.

[4] Movable do systems work best (perhaps they only work) for tonal and basically diatonic music. When I use them now in helping people learn to sight sing, I transition to reading intervals as soon as the music becomes complex. And of course, a system based on relationship to a tonic does not work for atonal music.

I think your experience with movable do probably helped you develop a good sense of relative pitch. In my view this is far more useful than absolute pitch, but that's a whole other thread \:\) . I had some other thoughts but they seem to have vanished, and it's late at night here.

Boira, I think you'll understand movable do better if you don't think about the do-re-mi stuff so much, but just think that this is the way we (who use letter names for fixed pitches) describe notes of the scale generally. They are our singing syllables for tonic-supertonic-mediant-subdominant etc (now they're not singable!!). Apart from that, I can't think of any more ways to make the breakthrough in understanding this. This is the problem with the same names/different meaning aspect of the fixed/movable systems.
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#935205 - 08/12/08 09:08 AM Re: How is 'fixed do' solfege taught outside the U.S.?
keystring Offline
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What has become clear to me, Currawong, is that for most of my life I have lived in a different world musically than anyone else. I was given the movable do chart and exercises, nothing else for 40+ years, but still listened to music and played music from written notes. The circumstances are unique and the results are probably unique to me. It is only as I encounter "normal" that I can see it. Before that what I know is the norm.

 Quote:
When you do start, you start with concepts such as "if so is this line, mi is the line below".
This is where on the deepest level, where body, mind and ear interact, my experience differs sharply. First I hear a series of tones, and as I hear them So and Mi name themselves. Then I might say "Oh, my mind has just called these two notes So Mi so that down there is Do."

There is nothing correct or incorrect about it. It is just a totally different way of perceiving than what anyone else has, at least among those I've encountered.

I think it's important for me to know that the way I've experienced music is different from everyone else, for the sake of communicating about music. The last pieces have fallen into place in these discussions. My mD solfege is similar to everyone else's, but it is a very different experience in key areas so I should not muddy the waters. I am increasingly intrigued, however.

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#935206 - 08/12/08 01:02 PM Re: How is 'fixed do' solfege taught outside the U.S.?
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 Quote:
Originally posted by pianobuff:
Fixed Do to me is the same as using letter names, no different, they are just more singable that is all.[/b]
This much is easy to understand, I agree. I understood this much when I wrote the first post in the thread. What's confusing is the initial impression that a lot of Europeans seem to get by with no moveable system at all. That leaves people like me wondering, "Well, if you don't have moveable do or something like it, then how do music teachers teach this concept or that concept?"

Thinking about it more, I realize it is ridiculous for me to suggest that students in fixed-do countries have 'no moveable system at all'. I don't know Spanish, but when I look at this Wikipedia page , it is pretty clear that:
  • The page is explaining a Spanish term equivalent to the English term 'scale degree'.
  • The degrees of the scale are numbered using Roman numerals.
  • There are Spanish terms equivalent to the English terms 'tonic', 'dominant', 'mediant', etc.

Students in fixed-do countries may not sing on scale degree numbers or scale degree words, but they do have the concepts.

What we are used to in the moveable do world is that it is impossible for someone to learn to use moveable do fluently without understanding concepts of scale degree and modulation at least in some implicit, 'gut feel' way. Many of us are used to depending on moveable do to get these concepts across and to check whether a student understands them.

So we look at fixed do and we think, "But it's at least possible to sing using those syllables and not have the gut feeling for scale degree function and modulation that we would use moveable do solfege to develop. Isn't that bad?" And of course it's not bad as long as other teaching techniques are used to develop those same skills.

Here's a question for Boira. So far your description of the other music instruction in Spain has centered around staff notation. What instruction is there that does not start with staff notation? For example, do you study dictation (listening to music and having to identify and write the notes by ear)? Do you study 'ear training' (listening to musical elements such as intervals and chords in isolation and having to name them)?

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#935207 - 08/12/08 01:11 PM Re: How is 'fixed do' solfege taught outside the U.S.?
keystring Offline
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Late Bloomer - I had a lengthy discussion with someone in the Russian system. The use fixed do AND solfege in the sense of this relatavism that I learned is put into it. There is a double awareness and double attention from the beginning.

I got trained into this "double-ness" last year and I've made the transition. I don't think I could describe it, though.

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#935208 - 08/12/08 01:47 PM Re: How is 'fixed do' solfege taught outside the U.S.?
Boira Offline
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Yes, LB, we study ear training and dictation. Dictation can be of two kinds: the one you describe -identify notes- and rhythmic dictation.

You do your ear training, dictations, staff notation, theory exercices... from the beginning.
Solfege + Harmony go together, you can't study one and leave the other.

I have my notes and books from last year, but when I was about to scan some of the pages to show you, I realized they're not in Spanish, but in Catalan
Wow, I guess that happens when you're bilingual.... sometimes you just don't know what language you're using!

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#935209 - 08/12/08 04:26 PM Re: How is 'fixed do' solfege taught outside the U.S.?
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 Quote:
Originally posted by currawong:
What do the American colleges which use fixed do and numbered scale degrees do for chromatic alterations? [/b]
Eastman is the only U.S. school I know of that uses both. As far as I know, most schools here that use fixed do use only fixed do (in other words, they do not require students also to sing with numbers).

This page at Eastman suggests the same syllables are used for altered and unaltered notes, both with solfege and with numbers:

http://theory.esm.rochester.edu/th261/html/mission.html

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#935210 - 08/12/08 05:53 PM Re: How is 'fixed do' solfege taught outside the U.S.?
currawong Offline
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Interesting, LB. I particularly liked:
3. Teaching fixed do and movable do in the same classroom is a sure way to place students and teacher in therapy sessions within five minutes.[/b]

I'm not entirely sure what they do about altered notes in the numbered system - it was implied but never spelled out. As they're not singing these numbers, perhaps it would be easy to just say "flat 6" or "sharp 4".

I think the important thing is that there be a comprehensively thought-out program of ear training/sight-singing/music reading, and that any gaps caused by the use of one system over another are filled by some other means. I'm assuming that this is what happens.
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#935211 - 08/12/08 06:12 PM Re: How is 'fixed do' solfege taught outside the U.S.?
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Near the end of the page, the author recommends "speaking the numbers [for each note] in rhythm" and says that the goal is to do this "at the tempo marked in the music". Any extra syllables would get in the way with that.

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#935212 - 08/12/08 08:41 PM Re: How is 'fixed do' solfege taught outside the U.S.?
currawong Offline
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Hmm, yes I did read that now you come to mention it. I'm afraid I just don't get it. It's like saying F# is the same as F because it uses the same letter name. I'd have to see it in action to judge whether it's as weird as it now seems to me \:\) .

I'm sorry, LB, I know what your original question (some pages ago) was, and I just keep seeming to turn this into a fixed vs movable discussion. My apologies \:\) . It's all so interesting, however!
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#935213 - 08/12/08 09:18 PM Re: How is 'fixed do' solfege taught outside the U.S.?
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A good test case is the melody from Liszt's Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2 that begins:

5 #4 5 4
5 #4 5 4

I've found that singing two different notes on '4' feels a little less awkward when I'm looking at notation with accidentals (even crude notation like the above) as opposed to singing with no notation in front of me. Same with fixed do syllables.

Edit: Another good excerpt:

5 7 3'
2' 1' 7 b7 6 b6 5 #4 5
5 7 3'
2' 1' 7 6 5 1'

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#935214 - 08/12/08 10:48 PM Re: How is 'fixed do' solfege taught outside the U.S.?
keystring Offline
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I assume 5 is sol, 7 is ti etc.? Interesting observation: it sings itself as easily as the original solfege, except that I rename it into solfege as I go along. The melody seems familiar.

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#935215 - 08/13/08 03:40 AM Re: How is 'fixed do' solfege taught outside the U.S.?
Boira Offline
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Interesting link Late Bloomer,

 Quote:

A good test case is the melody from Liszt's Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2 that begins:

5 #4 5 4
5 #4 5 4

I've found that singing two different notes on '4' feels a little less awkward when I'm looking at notation with accidentals (even crude notation like the above) as opposed to singing with no notation in front of me. [/b]Same with fixed do syllables.
Exactly! When you sing, is not musically possible to say the word "flat" or "sharp" without ruining the rhythm, but you 'see' the accidental, you feel it and you know it's there. You don't have room enough to speak it out loud, but you know it is there.

Back to the modulation issue:

 Quote:
Students in fixed-do countries may not sing on scale degree numbers or scale degree words, but they do have the concepts.

- The page is explaining a Spanish term equivalent to the English term 'scale degree'.
- The degrees of the scale are numbered using Roman numerals.
- There are Spanish terms equivalent to the English terms 'tonic', 'dominant', 'mediant', etc.

What we are used to in the moveable do world is that it is impossible for someone to learn to use moveable do fluently without understanding concepts of scale degree and modulation at least in some implicit, 'gut feel' way. Many of us are used to depending on moveable do to get these concepts across and to check whether a student understands them.
Aha!
Now, after 5 pages I think I'm starting to get what the misunderstanding is.

We (you and me, mDo countries and fDo countries) may give different names to the degrees of the scale *BUT* in this case the concepts are just the same. Harmony laws are the same for both worlds.
The patterns to build a scale are obviously common: W - W - H - W - W - W - S (for major scales) and W - H - W - W - H - W - W for minor sc. I'm not entering here the realm of melodic minors or armonics. Yes, maybe we give that conceps slightly different names, but it's just the translation into the native language. The "thing" is the same.

There are Spanish/French/Catalan/Euskera.... terms for the English terms 'tonic', 'dominant'...

We do analyse the scores to determine the key and the modulations (generally to 'neighbour' keys, but -of course- this is not always so)

The only thing that's different is what Pianobuff put in a nutshell some posts ago:

 Quote:
Fixed Do to me is the same as using letter names, no different, they are just more singable that is all.
We change the names, not the laws nor the concepts underneath these names.

I've scanned a page from a book (fixed Do), were you can see how to identify modulations..... I feel rather silly posting this on a teacher's forum, just take it as an example of how do you do that when your system doesn't have a second set of names for the degrees of the scale.
Click to open in a new window. Then click again on the pic to expand it to its actual size.



Maybe not the best example, but you getthe idea ;\)

Change the syllabes into letter names to have a reference in English et voilà!
The analysis is the same as you would do it (I think, correct me please if I'm wrong): Key signature (if any). Then, accidentals that may indicate 'something is happening', tonic (yes, the name of our tonic change, but it's the same tonic as yours), major or minor? What happens with VII? Why is VI sharped in bar 13? Neighbour keys? etc....


Music *is* universal after all, isn't it? \:\)

[Edited for typos]

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#935216 - 08/13/08 03:43 AM Re: How is 'fixed do' solfege taught outside the U.S.?
Boira Offline
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Sorry, double post

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#935217 - 08/13/08 04:39 AM Re: How is 'fixed do' solfege taught outside the U.S.?
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Boira,

Thanks very much for posting that example of how modulations are taught using 'fixed do' note names! It's really not so different. I am curious about the ear training aspects of identifying modulations as well.

Going back to that page from Eastman that I linked---as someone used to moveable do, I find this argument to be a powerful one:

"Fixed do solfège is incredibly flexible: it can be used for ANY music that can be notated on lines and spaces. (In other words, you don’t have to learn a new system once you start studying post-tonal, Renaissance, jazz, or non-Western musics.)"

If the reason we are using the syllables is that they are so good for singing, why shouldn't we learn to use them in a way that allows us to apply them to as much music as possible?

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#935218 - 08/13/08 05:25 AM Re: How is 'fixed do' solfege taught outside the U.S.?
keystring Offline
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I am curious whether you guys process that melody in the same order or the opposite order that I do? I just sight sang through the page. What happens with me is that I will sing the newly sharped note by singing it a semitone higher because it has been sharped, and a second after singing it, I *hear* that Re (D) is now the tonic. Then in movabla Do my mind would assign the name "Do" to the D. In fact, these days there is no name given, I simply hear that there is a new tonic and I perceived the music that way. It happens in a split second without a break.

Now for me, I produce the sound, and it is the hearing of the sound that makes me recognize the new tonic. All my training was without written music so I was very much like the Medieaval singers.

For you guys, do you first derive mentally that this must be a new tonic, and then sing it as a new tonic (from visual to recognition to ear ), or do you sing the sharped note because it is sharped, and hear that there is a new tonic, and then assign the tonic to a new place (from ear to recognition giving meaning to visual)?

Can anyone follow what I'm saying? I think this is where the inner process may be different for us.

Mine is done without analysis and as an automatic reflex. It is physical. But this works best for voice, and would not work well for modulations and strange kinds of scales like octatonic etc.

 Quote:
.... but you 'see' the accidental, you feel it and you know it's there. You don't have room enough to speak it out loud, but you know it is there.
Yes! That's the missing link. The fixed Do person says La but things La sharp, and the letter name person can similarly think A sharp. Movable Do is a way of fixing the awareness of that modulation by giving it names, but we can create that awareness through the multiple approach you're getting, Boira. I've been wondering about this ever since January when somebody explained that the sharps and flats are not named, but they still seemed to be able to read with understanding.

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#935219 - 08/13/08 06:15 AM Re: How is 'fixed do' solfege taught outside the U.S.?
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 Quote:
Originally posted by keystring:
I am curious whether you guys process that melody in the same order or the opposite order that I do?[/b]
I learned to play that particular Bach invention several years ago, so I used the printed notes to cue my aural memory. As I 'listened' to the piece, I would pause at spots and ask myself, for example, "Does it sound to me as if Sol (G) is really the tonic here, as it is labeled?" If I wasn't sure, then sometimes I would 'rewind' and check again.

There was also an interplay with my theoretical knowledge even though I was relying primarily on my ear. For example, in bar 15, it didn't sound to me as if a modulation to D minor had occurred until the end of the bar. So I switched to my analytical mindset and thought: well, the key is A minor at the beginning of bar 15, and the C# one half-beat before the end of the bar is the first note in the bar that is not in the A natural minor scale, so it's no wonder that I continue to hear A minor up to that point. And I moved on and decided not to nitpick until now. \:D

If I had not played the piece before, I think I would have had a hard time 'auralizing' both voices at once, which would have meant relying more heavily on theory and conscious analysis out of necessity. I can't say for sure.

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#935220 - 08/13/08 06:28 AM Re: How is 'fixed do' solfege taught outside the U.S.?
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As long as I'm nitpicking, there are some other spots where I disagree with the analysis. In bar 19, I view beat 3 as a weak D minor cadence (VII-i). If it's F major, then why would there be a D in the upper voice? Similarly, the B-flat at the end of the bar contradicts the C major analysis. I view the first beat of bar 20 as an F major cadence (vii-I). Then you get some B naturals and can start talking about C major.

But I digress.

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#935221 - 08/13/08 06:30 AM Re: How is 'fixed do' solfege taught outside the U.S.?
keystring Offline
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It is different for us, then. There was no analysis at all - I would sing the notes, somewhere near the subconscious something was hearing the modulation, and a second later my naming of the notes would have shifted. I was not even aware that I had renamed G as the new tonic.

This is still very much part of me, but I can and do analyze in a conventional manner. I can shift back and forth as well as integrate.

Yes, I noticed that too about bar 15. I din't think about it but I would wonder why a note saying that Re is now the tonic would come as early as it did. Of course there is a point where the music diddle-daddles its way into a modulation and it's sort of in transition. That's how I used to hear it, "diddle-daddle into transition". ;\)

I think I'm coming into it from opposite ends and walking the opposite direction from everyone else in order to have the whole picture. It's sort of disconcerting. :rolleyes:

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#935222 - 08/13/08 12:38 PM Re: How is 'fixed do' solfege taught outside the U.S.?
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 Quote:
Originally posted by keystring:
Of course there is a point where the music diddle-daddles its way into a modulation and it's sort of in transition.[/b]
This is another one of the arguments I have heard (outside of this thread) for fixed do. With modulations, there is often no clear cutoff point to shift 'do'. Usually there is at least one note/chord, and sometimes a whole span of them, that can be interpreted in either key. During the transition, there is no one right way to choose the (moveable do) syllables. With fixed do, there is only one way to choose the syllables for any modulation. (In the special case of a score for a transposing instrument, you would have to make a decision at the beginning of the score on whether to sing the syllables for the written pitch or the concert pitch.)

Of course, some moveable do users would say that is good to have more than one way to sing a modulation, because you can use that fact to teach yourself to hear the modulation in more than one way. It's one of those bug/feature things.

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#935223 - 08/15/08 11:11 PM Re: How is 'fixed do' solfege taught outside the U.S.?
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I've spoken to someone who studied the Kodály system in Hungary, where it was developed. She said that in the upper levels, students sing with both moveable do and letter names. They use the Dutch letter names, which are like German letter names except without the H (for the Dutch, B represents the same note as in English).
 Code:
Naturals:
C   D   E   F   G   A   B

Sharps (add -is):
Cis Dis Eis Fis Gis Ais Bis

Flats (add -es, except for A):
Ces Des Es  Fes Ges As  Bes

Double-sharps: add -is to sharps

Double-flats: add -es to flats
The pronunciation of these names in Hungary (and presumably in the Netherlands) is not quite like English. A is pronounced 'ah'; the vowel sounds for the other naturals are closer to English short E (eh) or Spanish E than English long E (ee); G is pronounced with a 'hard' G sound as in 'gift' instead of a 'soft' G sound as in 'George'.

In contrast to standard English note names, these names have the advantage that all the notes except double-sharps and double-flats are one syllable. Unfortunately, if the names used for singing, most of the flats are indistinguishable from the naturals until the final S is heard, and if the next note is a C of some kind, then it is never really clear whether the final S was present or not. Also, if you sing several A's or E's in a row, separating them requires using a glottal stop .

Anyway, I thought this was interesting as another attempt at chromatic syllables in a fixed system. In my opinion, it doesn't quite work for singing and it shows why using only seven syllables (whether letters or solfege) may in fact be the best we can do for a fixed system.

I found a post on another forum that asked, why don't we have a system for singing with twelve unique syllables, one for each of the twelve 'piano key' pitches within an octave? Apparently such systems have been tried in the past and never caught on. Maybe the human brain just can't handle twelve unrelated syllables at once.

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#935224 - 08/16/08 06:00 AM Re: How is 'fixed do' solfege taught outside the U.S.?
keystring Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11856
Loc: Canada
You would need more than 12 syllables since C# and Db are not the same pitch. ;\) If you go too much by pitch name then you lose the flavour of the notes.

My F in C major is flatter than my F in F major, because in the first, the F is the fourth degree which hugs tightly to the E. I was corrected as having made a mistake if that distinction wasn't made.

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#935225 - 08/16/08 06:32 AM 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:
You would need more than 12 syllables since C# and Db are not the same pitch. ;\) [/b]
I knew you were going to say that. \:\)

One of my music teachers once said that learning to play a string instrument in the violin family would do more for my ear than any solfege system. Someday I will follow his advice.

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#935226 - 09/30/08 03:42 PM Re: How is 'fixed do' solfege taught outside the U.S.?
solfeggio Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 09/28/08
Posts: 2
Loc: Goa India
I am happy to learn the Solfege(solfeggio) is a hot topic in the western world. I was surfing the Net regarding Kodaly method and accidentally tripped on the Piano World Forums.On page 2 the post says: "When you had to sing different pitches with the same names, did you find it confusingat first. If so,didyou have exercises or drills to help make youmore comfortable?
Here in Goa India we follow Albert Lavignac's Singing Exercises, a Henry Lemoine & Co. Paris publication. I differs from Eslava's Vocal Method(Australian edition in that you find a scale,say G major followed by about 4 exercises to drive hame the point. The first 80 odd exercises teach the basic concepts (just like Eslava) then the sharps F,C, G, etc followed by the flats B, E, A etc, progressively then the G major scale and exercises,E minor scale and exercises, F major scale and exercises. The book can be used for fixed Do as well as for moveable Do work. However there are no instructions regarding the use of any method. Another book that is in our institutional library is Eitor Pozzoli's Solfegi Parlati e Cantati, a Ricordi publication, in 2 volumes.
Those looking for a good mov. Do method book will find Thomas Cassidy's "Sight Singing Made Easy". I have found the book without the cover and hence am unable to provide other details.
William Appleby's "Sing at Sight" Oxford University Press is another fantastic 24 page book.

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#935227 - 09/30/08 06:31 PM Re: How is 'fixed do' solfege taught outside the U.S.?
Gary D. Online   content
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/30/08
Posts: 4814
Loc: South Florida
Let me ask a basic question, which is really what continues to baffle me:

For those of you who have studied any sight-singing system, or passed a course, what usable skills did it give you would not have had otherwise?
_________________________
Piano Teacher

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#935228 - 10/01/08 09:41 AM Re: How is 'fixed do' solfege taught outside the U.S.?
solfeggio Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 09/28/08
Posts: 2
Loc: Goa India
Remember,solfeggio is a singing exercise and so it helps you first of all to sing just by looking at the sheet music in front of you, no need of a piano or any other instrument (this is what usuallly happens around here).Secondly there is spoken solfeggio which does wonders for rhythmic training/reading. And most of all my sightreading has vastly improved.
Basically my intention of posting on this sight is to get in touch with Kodaly teachers and benefit from them.

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