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Solfege is a way of assigning syllables to names of the musical scale. In order, they are: Do, Re, Mi, Fa, Sol, La, Ti, and Do (for the octave). Solfege was a pedagogical technique created by Guido of Arezzo. These names are still used for the notes in latin countries, while in english and germanic countries the letter naming convention is used.

Table of contents
1 Etymology
2 Variations
3 Common scales
4 Other meanings
5 See Also
6 External Link


"Solfege" came from French solfège in the 1910s. The French word in turn came from the Italian solfeggio, which is a combination of sol and fa. Its equivalent since Early Modern English is sol-fa.

The syllable names come from a formerly well-known medieval hymn, entitled Ut queant laxis, in which each successive verse starts on the next higher scale degree in the major scale; The first word in each verse corresponds to the solfege syllable, with the exception of "Do," which was "Ut" in the hymn.


There are two main types of solfege: moveable Do, in which each syllable corresponds with a scale degree, and fixed Do, in which the syllables correspond to fixed pitches. The advantage of moveable Do is that Do always corresponds to the tonic; the disadvantage is that the singer must do a harmonic analysis of the piece in order to sing the correct syllables. In fixed Do, the pitches are set: the tonic, Do, is C, Re is D, and so on; Fa is easy to remember, since it is F.

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 Mnemonic
Unison, Octave Do dough
Augmented unison Di Dee
Minor second Ra "Rah rah rah"
Major second Re ray
Augmented second Ri like reach
Minor third May
Major third Mi like the word me
Perfect fourth Fa 'a' as in father
Augmented fourth Fi like feet
Diminished fifth Se say
Perfect fifth So(l) long 'o', like sold
Augmented fifth Si see
Minor sixth Le lay
Major sixth La 'a' as in large (like Fa, above)
Augmented sixth Li like lean
Minor seventh Te like take
Major seventh Ti* tea
* In Continental Europe and East Asia, si is the seventh major, instead of ti.

Common scales

Some common scales are given below in solfege for reference.

Ascending the chromatic scale (using sharps):

Do Di Re Ri Mi Fa Fi Sol Si La Li Ti Do

Descending the chromatic scale (using flats):

Do Ti Te La Le Sol Se Fa Mi Me Re Ra Do

The major scale:

Do Re Mi Fa Sol La Ti Do

The natural minor scale:

Do Re Mé Fa Sol Le Te Do

Other meanings

In colloquial language, singers sometimes use "solfege" and "sight reading" as synonyms, though sight reading can also mean reading the piece without benefit of previous study, or numerical sight-singing, where the hard-to-memorize solfege syllables are replaced by the numbers one through seven.

See Also

External Link