Singing and Solmisation

A melody is not bound to a certain register.  Therefore, the syllable-note connection should not be binding either.
Lets take, for example, the song “Ba Ba Black Sheep”, ( “Twinkle twinkle little star”-Mozart: “The Alphabet song”, KV265) and notate the melodie in 2/4. Thus the beginning proceeds as

  • C-Dur:           / C   C   / G   G  /  A  A  / G
  • D-Dur:           / D   D   / A    A  / B   B  / A
  • Eb-Dur:         / Eb Eb / Bb Bb / C  C  / Bb

For every 12 tones, the chromatics change pitches.  The melodic shape, however, remains consistent!

A melody is charachterized by its shape[1], not by its pitches. Hence, tones need a name in relation to one another.
The beginning of this song, thus becomes simple

  •           / Do Do / So So / La La / So

With Do-Re-Mi-Fa-So-La-Ti the tonal area is “straightforward”[2], it is clear, and with time and practice solmisation provides children with confidence in their use of tone structure. With solmisation, we tread a path along which ALL children may accompany us. It is not the case that the minority of those who teach instruments will find themselves bored.  They too profit from such understanding.

Really? Is Solmisation the “Silver bullet” for music instruction? If so, then shouldn’t it see more widespread use? Why doesn’t it?

  • No child learns to speak overnight.
  • Every child can in theory can swim, but they must first familiarize themselves with the water.
  • Every child can shoot a goal on the soccer field, but they must practice often in order to score in a game.
  • Learning to read takes time
  • Learning how to ride a bike: once achieved, it seems natural, but even this task takes time to understand.
  • It doesn´t take long to understand the rules of chess, but understanding these rules certainly does not guarrentee success in the game.

Speaking, swimming, playing soccer, riding a bike, playing chess – these are skills that we must practice.  A teacher doesn’t stand by to help and correct us at each step – that wouldn’t be practical, it would almost not be possible, and certainly wouldn’t lead to success. A child practices for themselves, ever better rewarded as the skill and their range of abilities improves.

Learning music is no different. The only question remaining is: how should a child practice solmisation?

To kick a ball, we need a ball, to ride a bike, we need a bike, we need a chess board to play chess, to learn writing, chalk, chalkboards, pencils, pens, and notebooks are nessasary, and reading requires a book.

To learn and solidify pitch, we need an instrument unbound from key.  With this in mind, we created tabDo.

[1] SHAPE is a term of cognitive science with a long tradition. The article “Shape-Psychology” on Wikipedia gives a swift overview.
[2] It is curious, how few words we have, that directly pertain to the world of “Tone”. A tonal area cannot truly be straightforward. However, we could not say “ignored”, that means something completely different. Our use of metaphors so predominently in music confuses the picture(!) and binds noncorrelating ideas in our brains when considering literal translations. For example, “Scale” in musical terms implies a set of notes with varying frequencies, but nothing is being weighed.  Consider also “Tone color”.


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