Solfege, otherwise known as solmization, is a way of naming the different scale degrees with syllables. They were originally used in India for music based on seven notes and were developed much later in the West by Guido of Arezzo (c. 995-1050). Guido, a monk of the Benedictine order in Italy, was also the inventor of the musical staff.
Guido used the Latin hymn “Ut Queant laxis” to choose which syllables to use.
- Ut queant laxis
- Resonare fibris
- Mira gestorum
- Famuli tuorum,
- Solve polluti
- Labii reatum,
- Sancte Ioannes.
In the English language, ut has been replaced by do and si has been replaced by ti.
In the moveable do system, do is always the tonic of the scale, melody, or phrase in question. In the fixed do system, do is always C.
There are some shortcomings to Guido’s original system. While these syllables are all very well for major key music, other syllables are necessary for other keys. Below are all the syllables necessary in a chromatic scale, which are all that are used in Western music.
Using sharps - Do, Di, Re, Ri, Mi, Fa, Fi, Sol, Si, La, Li, Ti, Do
Using flats - Do, Ra, Re, Me, Mi, Fa, Se, Sol, Le, La, Te, Ti, Do
Here are some of the common scales written in Solfege:
Do, Re, Mi, Fa, So, La, Ti, Do
Natural Minor Scale
Do, Re, Me, Fa, Sol, Le, Te, Do
Harmonic Minor Scale
Do, Re, Me, Fa, Sol, Le, Ti, Do
Melodic Minor Scale
Do, Re, Me, Fa, Sol, La, Ti, Do