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Do Re Mi Fa

Introduction to Solmization ( do re mi fa sol la ti ) – Learn How to Read Music Notes in Singing

Being able to read music notes in singing by help from the relative note names ( do re mi fa sol la ti do ) is a very useful skill for anyone who has anything to do with music. The following benefits come along when learning this skill properly:

  • It will be much easier for you to write out songs and melodies that you hear on the radio or in your head.
  • You will be able to learn to read music for any kind of instruments much quicker as you have a natural understanding of melodies.
  • If you like to join a choir, reading music notes is a crucial skill which will enable you to sing new material almost instantly.
  • Practicing frequently will help you develop a feeling for each note and its function within a scale.
  • Singing music notes trains your musical ear. I learned almost as much practicing this skill as I did by other ear training methods.
  • You will become a better singer.

Music language

In my eyes, studying music is like studying a new language. Studying music theory is like studying grammar. Composing music could be compared to writing a text where you have an overall structure or form. In this form a paragraph could be seen as a musical period. The comparison between musical and linguistic phrases is also not far fetched. If you go on you will certainly find much more analogies between this two topics. The most relevant analogies for us here are the ones between singing and speaking and of course reading music notes and reading a text.

It takes a long time and effort to learn a new language. Nonetheless, you can enjoy it as you see yourself getting better and better, by applying it along the way.

Bear these analogies in mind. If you find yourself demotivated caused by lack of progress think back to the time when you were learning a foreign language. It probably took you a long time to get a good feeling for words. It most certainly took you even longer to get a feeling for right phrases.

Also remember the benefits that I mentioned or even better, think of your own benefits that will keep you motivated.

Solmization

Solmization is a system wherein unique syllables are linked to each note of a musical scale. It was developed in the medieval and is still in use in different forms throughout the world. The syllables for a major scale are:

  • do re mi fa sol la ti (do)

do re mi fa scale

scale of do re mi fa sol la ti do

If you play the c-major scale on a keyboard, which are all white keys played beginning at c, you get c → do, d → re, e → mi, f → fa, g → sol, a → la, b → ti. Analyzing the intervals you find a half tone step between mi and fa and between ti and do. The position of these semitones within the scale gives it its characteristic.

Solmization introduces a relative tone system whereas generally we work with an absolute one. In an absolute system, each note refers to a specific frequency. For example: a’ → 440Hz. In a relative system, the relation between the notes is more important. In “do re mi fa sol la ti do“ the relation between each note is determined, but the frequency for do is variable. It is like a ruler that you can lay down on different places to see where your sol is, when your do is a at this or that note.

Exercise 1: Play a singable note on your preferred instrument and sing the major scale on the syllables do re mi fa sol la ti do ti la sol fa mi re do up and down. In the beginning, you can play along with your instrument as you sing. Practicing this exercise you will get used to the syllables, their order and their sound within the scale. You also learn to think relatively which is a very important ability as you sing more complicated songs.

Exercise 2: You can do this exercise alone or with a partner. Take your left hand and look at your fingers. Each finger and each flap of skin between your finger stands for a syllable (see illustration). Pinky → do; Space between pinky and ring finger → re, ring finger → mi …. Define the absolute note of a syllable by the help of a tuning fork or an instrument. Now tap with your right index finger on a random finger or flap of skin between two fingers and sing the corresponding syllable with the correct pitch relative to the defined note. Vary your initial defined anchor note from time to time. Practice until you are able to find the correct notes at decent speed. If you have practiced alone until now ask, someone else to tap his fingers for you as it is more challenging.

do re mi fa

do re mi fa sol la ti

If you feel comfortable with the first two exercises you have internalized the relative tone system good enough to start using it in everyday situations. To get started with this, I give you a two-part exercise, which is quite fun and challenging. For the first one sing the relative notes below and try to recognize the famous melody hiding within them. I haven’t added rhythm but I think you should still be able to identify them.

Exercise 3: Sing the following relative notes and try to name the song they are part of. A { , } means that the note lies beneath the central do and {  ‘  } that it lies one octave above.

  1. sol, do do do mi re do re mi re do do mi sol la la sol mi mi do re do re mi re do la, la, sol, do
  2. sol, do do re do ti, la, la, la, re re mi re do ti, sol, sol, mi mi fa mi re do la, sol, sol, la, re ti, do
  3. sol mi mi sol la re re mi fa do’ do’ ti sol la sol fa mi sol la la la re’ do’ ti do’ la sol do re mi la sol sol fa mi re ti, do
  4. do’ sol la mi fa do fa sol
  5. do sol, do sol, do sol, do mi sol fa re fa re fa re ti, re sol,
  6. do do’ ti sol la ti do’ do la sol la, fa mi do re mi fa re ti do re mi do
  7. do re mi do do re mi do mi fa sol mi fa sol sol la sol fa mi do sol la sol fa mi do do sol, do do sol, do
  8. do do re ti do re mi mi fa mi re do re do ti do
  9. Verse: sol, mi re do sol, sol, sol, sol, mi re do la, la, la, fa mi re ti, sol sol fa re miChorus: mi mi mi mi mi mi mi sol do re mi mi fa fa fa sol fa mi mi mi mi re re mi re sol
  10. mi mi fa sol sol fa mi re do do re mi mi re re mi mi fa sol sol fa mi re do do re mi re do do

You can write down your answers in the comments below if you like. The second part of this exercise is to make it a habit to translate melodies, which come across in your everyday life, into syllables. If you listen to the radio, lie in bed or wait at the dentists practice to analyze the music with the relative tone system.

A huge advantage of this system is that you can use it no matter what instrument you play. If you can play scales on your instrument and know the relative note names of a song you are able to play it instantly.

If you like to practice solmization use my course. Start out with the instruction.

10 Responses

  1. Segun Obadun

    Everything you said in your “Introduction to Solmization” is in perfect agreement with what I have always believed: one can play any song on a musical instrument if one can fit the Do Re Mi …….. To the song. But my biggest problem is that even though I can say/sing the Do Re Mi I cannot always correctly match it to a song even if I could sing the song perfectly. It’s always a hit and miss situation. I’ve been looking for a long time for a book/someone who could teach me this skill in a structured manner but no luck. I’m a retired scientist but just have burning desire to be able to play the saxophone for personal enjoyment, nothing more nothing less. Please, please, please, COULD YOU HELP.

    Regards

    Segun Obadun

    • Hi Segun!

      Thanks for the Comment. I can totally feel your effort. Music can be one of the most rewarding thing in the world but it is surely also that needs plenty of attention before you get there. Practice a thing or a skill you want to learn on a regular basis like 20 minutes a day rather than 1-2 hours once a week. Learn to love the process and be happy about every step that you make. Also, try to find and learn from people that already have the skill that you want to acquire and imagine yourself in their position doing exactly what they are doing. The rest is a matter of practice and reflection.
      I bet you know all this but it is good to hear it often.
      About Solmization: Every syllable of a scale in “do re mi fa sol la ti do” has a function that you can learn to recognize by ear. Once you figure out one syllable of a song (if it is not a complex jazz number with lots of changes in key) every other fall into their place easily.
      Start out with the ‘do’ when listen to the radio search for the ‘do’ in the song. ‘Do’ is the tonic and therefore the most stable note that feels like the center or home of the song.
      ‘re’ and ‘ti’ often lead back to ‘do’. ‘ti’ has a lot of tension and wants to resolve eagerly.
      ‘mi’ leads to ‘fa’ and ‘fa’ leads back to ‘do’. Sing ‘fa mi re do’ and you know what I mean by that. Every time you hear a ‘fa’ you hear ‘mi re do’ in you head.
      ‘sol’ also leads to ‘do’ in it’s own way. Often you hear ‘sol do’ ‘ at the beginning of a song like in ‘We wish you a merry Christmas …’

      I hope you understand a bit what I mean. Get to know the character of each syllable, each note of a scale. Most often you just have to recognize one syllable and then sing the scale once out loud or in the head. Then they are stuck in head and easy to recognize.

      Kind Regards,
      Dario

  2. Oladipupo Kunle

    Hi, I love the way you introduce this Lesson note neatly and nice am a novice in sight reading but a choir which means my Organist has to denote into d r m f s l t d, before i can sign. what help can you do for me to be on my own. thanks and God bless

  3. Dorothy Paz

    The creation, performance, significance, and even the definition of music vary according to culture and social context. Music ranges from strictly organized compositions (and their recreation in performance), through improvisational music to aleatoric forms. Music can be divided into genres and subgenres, although the dividing lines and relationships between music genres are often subtle, `.:^

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  4. don king

    Hi Segun,

    Im just over 66 started learning sax last year.. learning by playing note names, very simple no worries about key.

    http://Www.blowoutsax.com all details on tutors site
    Good luck

  5. Unice

    Is it SOL or SO? Because it says “DO RE MI FA SO…” I just want to know.

  6. Olatisesamuel

    The big problem is how can i match the applicable word and that is the do,re mi,fa…..to song’s i listen to.

  7. sambe max kondo

    hi;its so easy leaning the solfa but i find difficulty in bringing out a song in different ways.
    thanks for the service

  8. I really want to tank for this great lesson,exercise and instruction.this exercise speak to me as if itz me you are talking to am still a learner tank you for you lesson God bless you.

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