DoReMiFa Solfege

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trulan
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Re: DoReMiFa Solfege

Post by trulan »

fretski wrote:THANKS, part of what you say is what I'm interested in because I can DOodle the flying Do major scale (if that's what it's going to be called). I'm even thinking of learning to do it in terms of 1,2,3,4,5,6,7 which would seem even more useful if I can teach myself. Your use of a chord to guide scales is something I never heard of (or thought of because it's over my head at this point) but it is interesting too.
I find solfege (the "flying Do scale") to be very useful for singing, not so much for playing guitar or other instruments. That's probably because of how I learned music as a child. I went to a Mennonite school for the first four years, and all music was vocal only (a capella). All our song books were printed with shaped notes. (the Aiken system - see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shape_note)

The benefit of this system is that it forces you to think of everything in intervals. This is especially useful if you are sight-reading music, particularly when multiple vocal harmonies are involved. When singing a note, unless you are gifted with perfect pitch (pitch recognition), there is nothing absolute to relate a note's letter name (C, F, G, etc.) to the sound produced - you need to mentally calculate the relationship your assigned letter note has to the other notes being sung, figure out what it should sound like, then sing it. With shaped notes, all that work is done for you, so sight reading a capella music becomes much easier. It is directly obvious how the note I am singing relates to the key I am in, as well as how it relates to the other notes being sung.

For playing any musical instrument, the benefits quickly disappear, as the way to produce each note is defined by its letter name. To play a C on a piano, you hit the "C" key.

The 'numbering' system is useful for naming chords, particularly if you are playing in a band with instruments tuned to various keys, or a country/bluegrass band where capos might be at different places on some of the instruments. See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nashville_number_system

fretski
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Re: DoReMiFa Solfege

Post by fretski »

> I find solfege (the "flying Do scale") to be very useful for singing,
> not so much for playing guitar or other instruments. That's probably
> because of how I learned music as a child. I went to a Mennonite
> school for the first four years, and all music was vocal only (a capella).
> All our song books were printed with shaped notes. (the Aiken system
> - see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shape_note)

Thanks trulan!

I knew less about capella but have since been very pleasantly surprised seeing that almost all who sing using that system tend to sing 'very nicely'. Far from being able to put a finger on it I will on opportunity examine the method further. If a guitar worked like a fretless violin, especially with only one string, it might be easier to adapt :-)


Edit:
I misread your post, it isn't capella that forces you to think in terms of intervals but shaped-notes. I find that very worthwhile even as just a greenhorn.

fretski
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Re: DoReMiFa Solfege

Post by fretski »

rghvdberg wrote:A scale is a chord filled up with notes
A chord is a scale with some notes removed
Sorry for bouncing back a little late but I find the above interesting. Could you expand on it a little more?

A chord being a scale with some notes removed is something I understand only to the extent that for example the 3 notes making it up must by definition be part of the scale in point.

Dominique
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Re: DoReMiFa Solfege

Post by Dominique »

rghvdberg wrote:A scale is a chord filled up with notes
A chord is a scale with some notes removed

That's the jazz way of thinking about scales/chords
If you play 3 notes, the fundamental, the tierce and the quinte, you know if you are playing in major, minor, augmented or diminished, which also implies than these 3 notes will always sound good. So just play chords and scales using these 3 notes and use your feeling to play the other notes. That's the popular music way of thinking about chords and scales.

S1gmoid
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Re: DoReMiFa Solfege

Post by S1gmoid »

The confusion is that there are various systems of using the St. John hymn syllables. Afaik in Spanish it's indeed just alternative names for the notes. However, there's a thing called the Kodály method, which uses movable-do, la minor solfege along with clapping rhythms and simple folk songs. (Which means that do is the tonic in major and la is the tonic in minor, irrespective of key.)

Now this shit, it's literally magic for ear training. I wasn't a musical kid, but in school I had to suffer through the Kodály method. :p And when I wanted to become a musician, I realized that the major and minor scales are both already in my head. I can sing a bunch of folk songs and hits from the radio and whatnot... So here's what I do: if I find myself singing or humming a melody a lot, I look up its score, transcribe it to solfege, and just sing it with the degree names from there on. This gives names to the scale degrees that are in my head from the time my mom sang to me in the womb. Names provide conscious access. Which provides what you call "musical hearing".

Solfege is awesome. :p

fretski
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Re: DoReMiFa Solfege

Post by fretski »

S1gmoid wrote:The confusion is that there are various systems of using the St. John hymn syllables. Afaik in Spanish it's indeed just alternative names for the notes. However, there's a thing called the Kodály method, which uses movable-do, la minor solfege along with clapping rhythms and simple folk songs. (Which means that do is the tonic in major and la is the tonic in minor, irrespective of key.)

Now this shit, it's literally magic for ear training. I wasn't a musical kid, but in school I had to suffer through the Kodály method. :p And when I wanted to become a musician, I realized that the major and minor scales are both already in my head. I can sing a bunch of folk songs and hits from the radio and whatnot... So here's what I do: if I find myself singing or humming a melody a lot, I look up its score, transcribe it to solfege, and just sing it with the degree names from there on. This gives names to the scale degrees that are in my head from the time my mom sang to me in the womb. Names provide conscious access. Which provides what you call "musical hearing".

Solfege is awesome. :p
I probably learned the Kodaly method too and didn't even know it, it would appear that what children learn very young just gets built upon from that point on. But once I have learned a song I find nothing of any use while playing guitar, i don't think in terms of ABC or DoReMi while playing; if someone were to interrupt me at any time hiding the fretboard and asking me "what fret did you just hold at?"... I WOULDN'T HAVE A CLUE because it's all muscle memory or whatever they call it. I should have learned guitar in second and third grade, and with the Kodaly method :-)

S1gmoid
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Re: DoReMiFa Solfege

Post by S1gmoid »

I think muscle memory is awesome to have, it's something I'm trying to work towards myself. I envy musicians who can play "by feel" as opposed to "by head". :) Are you struggling with music theory in general, or just with connecting the movements and sounds with the concepts?

fretski
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Re: DoReMiFa Solfege

Post by fretski »

S1gmoid wrote:I think muscle memory is awesome to have, it's something I'm trying to work towards myself. I envy musicians who can play "by feel" as opposed to "by head". :) Are you struggling with music theory in general, or just with connecting the movements and sounds with the concepts?
I wish I knew the answer myself! I need theory because being a top-down type of person I cannot learn something that do not first understand. I would also need theory to compose which I'm not really into yet (devised one solo so far that's all and didn't need any theory to do that much). What brought me to music was my love of songs, but only some songs. So as I learn a song I need the staff and guitar-tabs and a work-over of the chords in that key, especially the ones used or suitable alternatives. But everything changes from then on, once I have learned a song I play it from memory AND in entirely another world, not thinking about the key or the note names or any such tangible attribute. If I were playing on a keyboard I could honestly say that once started I have no clue about which octave I'm in. I need to kind of ID the starting string and fret but from hat moment I don't know if I'm playing a C or an F or fret # this or that. They call it muscle memory although there is no such thing, it is a form of memory, period.

S1gmoid
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Re: DoReMiFa Solfege

Post by S1gmoid »

fretski wrote:I don't know if I'm playing a C or an F or fret # this or that. They call it muscle memory although there is no such thing, it is a form of memory, period.
Well of course it's handled by the brain, not the muscles themselves, or the spinal column, or some other thing... but it's a markedly different part of the brain than what handles theoretical knowledge. Now what I'm saying here I'm saying as a neurohacking geek, as I am still far from my goal as a musician (which would be a full mental connection between hearing, motoric actions, and conceptual understanding).

So the reason why Solfege makes sense is that it engages two separate neural pathways at the same time: relative pitch and verbal language. Relative pitch, and specifically the diatonic scale, is something we all learn naturally as we grow up. We're surrounded by diatonic music our entire lives. Of course we need some training to sing the diatonic scale in tune, but we can all sing it in some way. And even people who cannot sing true are able to distinguish between someone singing in tune and out of tune, which means the neural structure is already there - it's been learned, it's like chickenpox: we all have it.

The problem is that this is mostly passive knowledge, unless someone grew up in a highly musical environment where they were "allowed to talk back" musically (see https://youtu.be/2zvjW9arAZ0 - Victor Wooten's TED talk). So we need to transform it into active knowledge. And the way we can do it is by connecting it to other systems in our brain. And that's what singing Solfege does. The connection between the tonic of the major scale, and the word "do" gets wired into our brain, as the neural structures that handle pitch recognition, and the motoric functions that handle singing at a pitch, are getting physically connected to the verbal systems, and through that, to all the conceptual thinking that we're capable of.

For an instrument, and the motoric memory of how it's played, I think something similar can be built by methodically, consciously practicing. Not practicing as in playing a song, but practicing as in "these are the ways I can comfortably play the C major chord on my instrument, now in what ways can I move to an A minor chord... etc." Doing it over and over, and the motions will eventually be connected to the concepts of each chord.

merlyn
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Re: DoReMiFa Solfege

Post by merlyn »

I think the structure that's hard wired into our neural circuitry is the pentatonic scale. The pentatonic scale appears throughout the world from Amazing Grace to African music.

Solfege is a way to learn a major scale, the basis of the Western major/minor system. Brahms marked the end of the major/minor system and music of the Romantic movement used more chromaticism.

Solfege isn't so good for chromaticism.

Given that modern music like jazz uses pentatonics and chromticism there may be a more suitable way than solfege. I saw a book Training the Ear by Armen Donellian that use numbers -- the scale degrees. So a blues scale would be :

one three four four five seven one one seven five five four three one.

S1gmoid
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Re: DoReMiFa Solfege

Post by S1gmoid »

Yes I have read stuff about the pentatonic scale being somehow "natural" and universal between cultures. What I meant by the diatonic scale being hardwired into us was not this. I meant that from the moment our hearing develops in the womb, we westerners (and with the cultural influence of the West, probably most human beings around the globe) are bathed in diatonal music. Much like the way we learn the phonemes of our mother tongue by hearing them over and over, we learn the intervals and scale degrees of the diatonic scale by hearing them over and over and over and over...

I see the "war" between diatonic and chromatic music to be beyond my level. :D There's a lot to consider on this front, and I do not have the authority or the intention to say anything remotely final on it. Some musicians think a chromatic-first approach is better, some think it's easier to be at home with the diatonic scale (which is what most western music uses, and most people want to hear anyway), and then expand toward chromaticism. I personally found that trying straight for chromatic hearing gave me a really hard time, while going for functional ear training first felt natural. I'd rather be able to understand some (most) music by ear, rather than try for all music and get none. And once I can say I'm comfortably good at diatonic music, I'll move on to chromatic hearing. :D

merlyn
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Re: DoReMiFa Solfege

Post by merlyn »

S1gmoid wrote: I see the "war" between diatonic and chromatic music to be beyond my level. :D
I would think you can play a blues scale. That has chromatic notes. For guitarists the blues scale could be the first scale they learn so why not learn to sing that ? :D

S1gmoid
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Re: DoReMiFa Solfege

Post by S1gmoid »

Blues scale isn't really chromatic, it's "just" a minor pentatonic scale with a blue note...
and solfege has accidental notes, so "la, do, re, me, mi, so, la". :D

merlyn
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Re: DoReMiFa Solfege

Post by merlyn »

I'm not against solfege nor am I suggesting you don't use it. It's an interesting discussion.

Above you stated that solfege programs your brain to associate 'do' with the tonic. That's not happening with your blues scale example. Also how do you do the harmonic and melodic minors? I remember the syllables 'ba' and se' for the melodic minor. And do you start a tonic minor on 'do'?

Where is all this tonal music? ABBA? Since the sixties blues has had a massive influence on music. We often hear bluesy and tonally 'wrong' music on the radio and elsewhere.
Last edited by merlyn on Wed Jan 29, 2020 5:04 am, edited 1 time in total.

fretski
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Re: DoReMiFa Solfege

Post by fretski »

merlyn wrote:
S1gmoid wrote: I see the "war" between diatonic and chromatic music to be beyond my level. :D
I would think you can play a blues scale. That has chromatic notes. For guitarists the blues scale could be the first scale they learn so why not learn to sing that ? :D
It's much more a question of what we have learned AT AN EARLY age than if it's diatonic or pentatonic. I remain amazed how after 70 years I can still sing or identify DoReMi learned before elementary or maybe in grade 1 or 3. I have two grandchildren and am doing everything from torture to blackmail to impress upon their parents the need for starting them on music lessons ASAP, however rudimentary.

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