Question about solfege syllables

Discussion in 'Music Theory [DB]' started by Uncle Lee, May 17, 2006.


  1. Uncle Lee

    Uncle Lee

    Joined:
    Dec 8, 2003
    Location:
    Berlin, Germany
    I have a question about singing solfege in the fixed-do system. I've written a long post to show where I am coming from, so if you want to jump to just the question please scroll down :)

    I have been singing major scales in the fixed do system. Some examples (please feel free to jump in and correct these if you think they are "wrong" or could be sung better):

    C Major - Do Re Mi Fa So La Ti Do

    G Major - So La Ti Do Re Mi Fi So

    D Major - Re Mi Fi So La Ti Di Re

    F Major - Fa So La Te Do Re Mi Fa

    Bb Major - Te Do Re Me Fa So La Te

    All scales have been fine so far, but there is one that I am uncertain of, namely F#/Gb Major. If I sing it as Gb, its no problem:

    Se Le Te De Ra Me Fa Se

    I am not entirely sure that "De" exists as an established syllable, but it made sense to sing it that way, following the pattern of

    B (Ti) --> Bb (Te)
    E (Mi) --> Eb (Me)
    A (La) --> Ab (Le)
    ...
    C (Do) --> Cb (De)

    The problem is singing this scale as an F# scale, ie using "Fa" as the starting syllable:

    Fa Si Li Ti Di Ri |?| Fa

    The sharps are usually created like Do --> Di, Re --> Ri, Fa --> Fi. So what would you sing for those two syllables that already end in "i", Mi and Ti?

    TO REPHRASE, AND FOR THOSE OF YOU WHO SCROLLED DOWN, THE ACTUAL QUESTION IS:

    How does one sing E# and B# in the fixed solfege system?


    I'll rephrase if this whole post sounds convoluted. I'm new to solfege, and did a lot of online research, but couldn't come up with these two "missing syllables".:bag::help:
  2. Snakewood

    Snakewood Guest

    Joined:
    Dec 19, 2005
    An easier way of doing it, the way I'm taught at University is to treat B# E# Fflat and Cflat as homologous to there enharmonics. Sing B# as C using Do, don't try to overcomplicate things, afterall you'll probably soon have to use moveable do.
  3. ToR-Tu-Ra

    ToR-Tu-Ra

    Joined:
    Oct 15, 2005
    Location:
    Mexico City
    Ain't got my notebook handy, but as far as I remember, when you sharpen notes like Ti and Mi, you ad an "S" at the end, ergo: Mis and Tis

    Hope it's helpful
  4. Steve Killingsworth

    Steve Killingsworth

    Joined:
    Aug 25, 2002
    Location:
    West Tennessee
  5. Register to disable this ad
  6. Uncle Lee

    Uncle Lee

    Joined:
    Dec 8, 2003
    Location:
    Berlin, Germany
    I am trying not to just sing the enharmonic, but rather a unique syllable. I know it probably seems complicated at the beginning, but I think it will pay off in the long run.

    Yes, thanks! :) I know that in German, a C sharp is "Cis", a D sharp is "dis" and so and so forth ... so it is the same in solfege for Ti and Mi? Anyone want to jump in to confirm?
  7. Uncle Lee

    Uncle Lee

    Joined:
    Dec 8, 2003
    Location:
    Berlin, Germany
    Thanks for the link, but I am in China, and Wikipedia is unfortunately a blocked site. :ninja: Do you have another link or could you give me a brief summary, just of Mi and Ti? Thanks!!
  8. Steve Killingsworth

    Steve Killingsworth

    Joined:
    Aug 25, 2002
    Location:
    West Tennessee
    Good thing TalkBass isn't too subversive!

    Here is a part of the Wink article that might addresses pronunciation. Maybe it will help you.


    There are also other syllables corresponding to notes outside of the major scale. All the solfege syllables are listed in the table below; the syllables in the major scale are shown in bold.

    Scale degree Syllable Pronunciation
    Unison, Octave Do dough
    Augmented unison Di as in deep
    Minor second Ra as in hurrah
    Major second Re ray
    Augmented second Ri as in reach
    Minor third Me or Meh or Mé may
    Major third Mi as in meat
    Perfect fourth Fa as in father
    Augmented fourth Fi as in feet
    Scale degree Syllable Pronunciation
    Diminished fifth Se say
    Perfect fifth So (or Sol) like sold
    Augmented fifth Si see
    Minor sixth Le or Leh lay
    Major sixth La as in lava
    Augmented sixth Li as in lean
    Minor seventh Te or Teh as in table
    Major seventh Ti * tea
    * In Continental Europe and East Asia, si is the seventh major, instead of ti
  9. ToR-Tu-Ra

    ToR-Tu-Ra

    Joined:
    Oct 15, 2005
    Location:
    Mexico City
    "South of the border, down Mexico way" it's mostly refered as "SI" (like in "sea") too. :smug:
  10. Uncle Lee

    Uncle Lee

    Joined:
    Dec 8, 2003
    Location:
    Berlin, Germany
    Yep. I wonder what Wikipedia did wrong??

    Those are exactly the syllables I have and have been using. And yet I cannot find the syllable for E# or B# (unless you go with F and C). In relation to a C root, would E# be an augmented third (is there such a thing)?
  11. sibass89

    sibass89

    Joined:
    Jan 29, 2006
    Location:
    Cincinnati, OH
    There is a such thing as an Augmented 3, there is an Augmented and Diminished quality for every interval.

    At Juilliard we actually use an interesting solfege system.

    Do, Re, Mi, Fa, Sol, La, Si, Do...whenever an accidental is need we just say the accidental (I.E. Mi #).

    Also, while singing in solfege we dont use any accidentals at all just the basic syllables.
  12. Uncle Lee

    Uncle Lee

    Joined:
    Dec 8, 2003
    Location:
    Berlin, Germany
    Thanks! Let me see if I understand: Does this mean you would sing Do Mi So Si (or Ti) regardless of whether it is a C major 7th, minor 7th, flat 5 diminished 7th or dominant 7th arpeggio? If so, doesn't that defeat the purpose of training your ear to hear the intervals "value" ie major/minor third, perfect or diminished 5th etc.?
  13. Chris Rose

    Chris Rose

    Joined:
    May 22, 2006
    The system described by sibass89 is similar to the european way of teaching sol-fege. The B is Si, and the sylable stays the same for B-flat, B-natural, and B-sharp. You are correct. You would sing Do Mi So Si no matter what the chord quality. You are touching on a great argument for movable DO, as this sol-fege system does pose problems when dealing with chromatic passages, modulations, or 12-tone works. The changing sylables of moveable DO facilitate stronger familiarity with the intervals, especially augs, dims, (relative pitch becomes stronger) but people who learn fixed DO tend to have a better ear for perfect pitch. At least this has been my observation.
  14. Steve Killingsworth

    Steve Killingsworth

    Joined:
    Aug 25, 2002
    Location:
    West Tennessee
    My experience with this is from singing traditional religious hymns in shape-note style. There are several different traditions but in most of them what you mention above is the way it is. There is no difference in syllable pronouncation and Do (or sometimes Fa, depending on the style) is the key note.
  15. ericoschmitt

    ericoschmitt

    Joined:
    Jan 11, 2013
    I was searching in google for a name i could use to refer to my system. I have heard from a friend who has been to france that what i use is similar to french solfege system, and as i read here, thats also what you are using.
    I actually solfege in two different ways, depending on ocasion.
    The first i use for fingerboard visualization, and hitting high notes by space orientation (i actually play cello, but also electric bass tuned in fifths)
    It is a chromatic solfege system, it has also its own notation, described here:

    ムトウ音楽メソッド Muto Music Method
    http://muto-method.com/

    notes are do di re me mi fa fi sol lu la se si do

    Maybe the site uses te/ti instead of se si, but in portuguese we solfege B's as si (sea)
    This muto method has no accidentals, only one name for each pitch.

    The other way, which is more subconscious one, is the one i said is similar to french, but adapted to portuguese's Si (actually comes from italian tradition i think), and the accidentals syllables i made myself, because i didnt know about french solfege when i invented that. so it is something like this

    cb - du
    c - do
    c# - di
    db - ro
    d - re
    d# - ri
    ebb - mo (happens more often than other double flats)
    eb - me
    e - mi
    e# - mu
    fb - fo
    f - fa
    f# - fi
    fx - fu (happens more often than other double sharps, i dont have for the others)
    gb - sul
    g - sol
    g# - sa
    ab - lu
    a - la
    a# - li
    Bbb - te (happens more often than other double flats)
    Bb - se
    B - si
    B# - ti

    I actually never say any of those syllables to other people, since they wont understand, but it helps me organize stuff in my head. There are places where it helps knowing not only the note (chromatic me) but also the accidental (d# ri or eb me). Usually those syllables are useful for very tonal music with occasional alterations (cello's repertoire from classical period, like Haydn, or baroque like Bach).
    For most of other things I use chromatic solfege as in Muto's method.

    I actually hated written music, and solfege when i was a kid, because in just a few lessons i realised that f# = gb, and i always thought it made NO F* SENSE so i decided to be a musical illiterate until i started playing cello, and having to read scores... I also totally hate this clef system, and i also had already though about "chromatic staves are so much better" in the moment i learnt how tonal staves worked; though i can read in bass, tenor, and treble for playing cello...

    Back to solfege thing, when saying a note for someone else, i'll say "do sustenido / c sharp", as everyone will understand.
  16. ChuckCorbisiero

    ChuckCorbisiero

    Joined:
    Aug 8, 2009
    Location:
    Los Angeles, Ca.
    In Gnosis I, Boris Mouravieff corresponds the solfege to the descending scale of the Ray of Creation from esoteric cosmology:
    DOminus (God)
    SIdereus orbis (Starry sky/Ensemble of all Worlds)
    LActeus orbis (the Milky Way)
    SOL (the Sun)
    FAtum (Fate: the Planetary World, with direct influence on human destiny)
    MIxtus orbis (the Earth, under the mixed rule of Good and Evil)
    REgina astris (the Moon, ruler of human fate)
  17. hgiles

    hgiles

    Joined:
    Nov 8, 2012
    Location:
    Virginia
    Unless you have perfect pitch then I dont see how a fixed DO system is going to be helpful. Moveable DO seems to be the way to go for most folks and also the way I studied it.
  18. MostlyBass

    MostlyBass Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Mar 3, 2002
    Location:
    Oak Park, IL
    You're using a fixed Do system. Try the moveable system.
  19. ericoschmitt

    ericoschmitt

    Joined:
    Jan 11, 2013
    If you only sing, that may be enough. But with an instrument, even without perfect pitch, you have to know which note you are playing, for fingering it properly. So fixed do solfege is helpful...
    But even for singers, if you are reading with moveable do, you may get confused if an alteration comes in.

    Scott Edwards suggests an interesting method for moveable solfege in his ear training program: use scale degrees (number) instead of moveable do.
  20. ChuckCorbisiero

    ChuckCorbisiero

    Joined:
    Aug 8, 2009
    Location:
    Los Angeles, Ca.
    DO DI RE RI MI FA FI SOL SI LA LI TI DO ascending and descending DO TI TE LA LE SOL SE FA MI ME RE RA DO. That's the movable do 12 tone system with the alterations. It's not difficult to grasp. If you use the scale degree number system instead of movable do, how do you indicate an alteration phonetically?
  21. ericoschmitt

    ericoschmitt

    Joined:
    Jan 11, 2013
    I know it is easy - when singing, but what if you say that mentally in C, while playing in D with your instrument? you may get your fingers going wrong...
    With numbers, i dont indicate alterations, it is usually very easy to identify if an interval is major/minor with the ear. I dont use moveable while playing anyway, just for study/sing.

Share This Page