iBreatheMusic.com Online Music Lessons
  The Pulse - iBreatheMusic's official newsletter
Online Articles: 188
Article Browser
Forum Members 25,536
Join Us - Take Part
Pulse Subscribers 2046
The Pulse Archive

Introduction to Solfege

Let's sing

First of all let's get used to the syllables by singing major scales up and down. Play the root of the scale with an instrument (preferrable a piano), pick an octave that fits your vocal range and choose a relaxed tempo.

C major scale

Ok, I think it's best to show you how this sounds. I don't consider myself a singer at all and I'm a heavy smoker :-) But again, we should not be embarressed by our singing... so here it is: Guni's Chant

Ok, pretty straight forward so far. But Stop! Already in this simple exercise there are some hidden traps. Make sure that you don't sing flat or sharp. To test this follow these steps:

1) Play Do on the piano. Sing Do - Re. Check your Re on the piano. Sing Re - Mi. Check your Mi on the piano. etc...

2) Play Do. Sing up the scale to the second Do. Check this Do with the piano.

3) Proceed in the same way downward.

Now write out the same exercise from above in the key of G. Sing the entire exercise first then double check with the piano. Then try other keys, F, Bb, etc ...

Tendency Tones

Every note within a scale has a certain function or tendency to either be a stable note or to resolve to a stable note. Learning to hear those tendency tones is one of the first big achievements that Solfege is helping us with.

Below is a line that includes all tendency tones and their resolutions. I didn't add any rhythm as our focus should be on listening to the resolutions marked with the arrows.

Here it is

Transpose this line to different keys. Memorize it, repeat it over and over until you feel comfortable with singin it. Can you 'feel' the resolutions? Can you feel how strongly Ti (major seventh) is craving to be resolved to Do? Yes? Cool.

Back to childhood ...

Now here is a good way of practicing Solfege. Look for any kind of 'simple knitted' tune and sing the melody with Solfege. Get out those 'Children Song Books' hidden in the drawers and 'sightread' the music.

Example 1: "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star"

Note that this tune is in G major, thus the note g becomes our Do.

Example 2: Well, if you recognize the tune below post the title in the forums together with an mp3 recording of you singing the melody in Solfege. The first one to do so will receive a gift (no kidding!).

Update: Since publishing the article, we have had a good response of people posting their solfedge examples. Click here to read them or contribute your own. (the prize was awarded to Furiousnewf who responded first with the correct answer and a soundclip)

Here it is:

More Exercises >>