• Have anyone used the Ut-Re-Mi-Fa-Sol-La instead of just the later solfege used today? It seems amazing. Not many books on Gregorian chant use it. They seem to think that we have evolved and have a much easier solfege now. When thinking about it the older solfege sounds really interesting.
    I have only used the modern solfege (mostly the fixed Do).

    Thanked by 1M. Jackson Osborn
  • It seems more than a bit anachronistic that modal chant is taught using the tonal solfege system of the French conservatoire system rather than the hexachordal system contemporary to itself.
  • Spot on, Henrik!
  • Henrik,

    Excuse the stupid question, but what would you say are the main differences between what you call later solfege and older solfege?
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  • Older: Ut re mi fa sol la
    The later or what we used nowadays: do re mi fa sol la ti/si
  • Jeffrey Quick
    Posts: 1,409
    The main difference is mutation of hexachords. How do you get to ti, when there's no ti? At some point you have to rename la as re in the hard hexachord, so that your "ti" can be "mi". Likewise, if you want a "te", at some point fa will have to become ut in the soft hexachord.

    This site probably goes into more detail than you want.

    Early music groups have used this to gain new insights into polyphony. I'd be interested to hear if there have been experiments with chant. Personally, my attitude is Johann Mattheson's: I don't have much use for solfege. (His Der vollkommene Capellmeister has a cute little verse dissing each syllable in turn: "The sentry UT is quite kaputt")
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  • CharlesW
    Posts: 9,468
    When I was in college they had abandoned syllables entirely and were teaching numbers. I don't know what is being taught now. For example, do was 1, re was 2, and etc. That made it really difficult to convert to syllables later.
  • chonakchonak
    Posts: 7,395
    Going by my experience at the local state U (B. Mus., 2015), "do, re, mi" syllables are still in use, along with the sharp- and flat-variants ("si","se", etc.)
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  • Some professors often, when 'getting rid' of things like the proper names for solfege, are geting rid of things that gave them trouble when they were students, so when they become teachers they get rid of things they didn't like as students. Over the years we get dumbed down graduates. That is why doctoral theses haven't for several generations been presented in Latin.
  • [Slow as molasses in January flowing backwards uphill, but...]

    One is based on 8 tones, do- to - to, while the other is based on hexachord, ut (renamed do) - to - la ?

  • JoeM
    Posts: 19
    The ut syllable was chosen for a very specific reason and like most arts in western culture the art of singing has deteriorated as well.

    The art of singing is communicated by the employment of pitch, vowel and intensity. There are five Latin vowels. Yet every purely and correctly sung tone is a composite of vowels sounds. (just do a simple Google search on vowel modification)

    The “oo” is the vowel produces the lowest formant frequencies and if you know the overtone series then you know the higher frequencies are partials of the lower ones. The 'oo' is the foundational vowel that all the other vowels are built upon because it achieves the healthy 'attack' or initiation of sound. It functions as a saddle or base for healthy balanced singing because when the 'oo' is properly phonated then the larynx is low.

    Yet, correct singing is a paradox and this paradox is between the dark 'oo' and the bright 'ah.' Thus the ut, re, mi, fa, so, la not only serve as solimization syllables for sight singing and musical literacy, but it is also the means by which the Medieval choir built their voices. They did this by seating the first syllable on the 'oo' (without a consonant before it, for a very important reason) and gently mixing every succeeding syllable with the 'oo' vowel.

    Every musical instrument has a vibrating mechanism and a amplifying one. The 'oo' vowel is the vibrating mechanism and the 'ah' is the amplifying one. Thinking this way demystifies vocal training because the teacher's job simply becomes correcting the vowel. If you fix the vowel, you fix the voice.

    I have built a whole approach to choral pedagogy based on this system which (I believe) perhaps resembles something similar to what use in the Medieval choir schools of Europe. A little more on this at my web-page:

    palestrinachoirschool.com
  • JoeM: very useful reminder of the wisdom of our musical forbears, often lost in the haze of novelty and notions of progress.
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