Movable Do Solfege

Discussion in 'Music Theory, Lessons & Techniques' started by Osorio, Apr 24, 2012.

  1. Osorio

    Osorio Regular

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    Dec 4, 2011
    Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
    So... Title. We have some scholars here, what do you guys think about the movable do method? Useful? Useless?

    Personally... I think it's fucking retarded. But I life in a non-english-speaking country, and what you (english speaking people) would call solfege are the actual names for my notes.
    So every time I hear someone refer to a scale degree as a solfege note I fucking pop a vein.

    This recently sprung my mind because I'm taking some online classes on Berklee and they use Movable Do. This make me sing half of the material wrong, because I keep saying Do and... fuck... singing DO, when I'm expected for some reason to sing a B. URGH! /rant.

  2. Waelstrum

    Waelstrum All Fourths Advocate

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    Aug 12, 2009
    Queensland, Australia
    When going from fixed do to movable (or vice versa) can be really confusing. For some reason, at the primary and secondary levels in Australia, we're taught moveable do, but at the tertiary level, we have to switch to fixed!

    There are some advantages, such as once you've learned movable after being fluent in fixed, you'll be really good at sight transposition. I also found that when learning the modes of the major scale, thinking about them in moveable do made it much easier to see the pattern.

    In the end, I think its probably good to know both styles, that way you're a more compatible musician. (However, I agree that having multiple systems that basically do the same thing and have such similar names is frustrating.)
  3. Mr. Big Noodles

    Mr. Big Noodles Theory God

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    May 29, 2008
    Los Angeles, CA
    Fixed Do is better, movable Do is faster. A lot of American institutions use movable Do because music education tends to start later in life here. Movable Do reinforces the idea of tonality and transposition, so the people that form music curricula think they can kill two birds with one stone by teaching sight singing and harmony at the same time. The US inherited Germany's system of calling notes by letter names rather than by solfège syllables, so the perception of solfège is markedly different in this country. One can't exactly sing "A, C-sharp, D, E, F-sharp, B, B-flat, G, E-flat", so I see movable Do solfège as a way to make up for a deficiency in the letter name system. If everybody learned fixed Do, the world would be a better place. However, both movable and fixed Do have their merits and different uses. Movable Do looks at the process of music and requires extra thought, fixed Do is absolute and doesn't beg much thinking.
  4. pouet42

    pouet42 New Member

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    Nov 11, 2014
    Solfège syllabes were invented first as a movable do system.
    It was movable, not in the intent, but just as a fact, because at the time it was made to help Monks to sing new tunes, and because it was not played with instruments, no absolute reference pitch was needed.

    Then later when tonal music appeared, with lot of modulation, they decided to keep the syllabes but make them fix to an absolute pitch.

    If you keep singing absolute pitch Do when you read Do as the tonic degree, then it means you have perfect pitch.
    And you would have issue reading scores for transposing instruments as well.
    So it means your issues comes from your perfect pitch, not from the movable do system, since the do is obviously not fixed for transposing instruments.

    By the way, what matter is that you can say the scale degree of the note you actually sing.
    Do re mi fa sol la si do, are good names, easy to pronunciate, but you might as well sing the scale number as 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 instead.

    I live in a fixed do country.
    I think that fixed do is bad because it killed the first intent of the solfège syllabes, wich is to help understand the structure and the relativeness of the tonality.
    Instead you have people believing they need to learn perfect pitch to ear what they read.
    They should have used other note names.

    I know a lot of people who learned classical music very young, and most of them just can't sing a simple score.
    They can't because they don't understand what help to understand the movable do system.
  5. zman5999

    zman5999 Member

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    Nov 4, 2014
    Incredibly useful. I put off learning it for a long time, but eventually I got around to learning it. From experience I can say it drastically improves your ability to transcribe and write music. Especially for writing music, it allows you to get the ideas inside your head out onto your instrument (sort of like transcribing music from your brain). It also gives you a new perspective on melody and harmony, which is very useful for soloing over changing harmony and using colour tones.

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