View Full Version : Solfege & Key Sig?

11-24-2004, 12:54 PM
Just a quick question. When practicing the moveable 'do' system is it best to write the keys out in the correct key signature so no sharps and flats are present in the music, or to write everything with respect to the key of C so that you can see where all the sharps/flats occur? Any info would be greatly appreciated, thanks.


11-25-2004, 05:46 AM
I'm a bit confused, wouldn't you be able to see what notes are sharp or flat either way? I suppose if you don't have your keys down like the back of your hand you'd be constantly reminded if you write everything out as acidentals. I personally wouldn't want to take the time to do all that, but it comes down to personal preferance. Most people work in key signitures, but some people find it easier to not. Then again, wouldn't moveable 'do' make all this moot? because do, re, mi etc automatically conform to the key you are in.

11-25-2004, 10:00 AM
My knowledge of key signatures is pretty bad, I could figure them out quite easily but I wouldn't recognise each one straight away other than the really common ones, this is the result of using too much tab probably. I just wasn't sure what effect learning them all with the right key signatures would have on sight singing something which doesn't strictly adhere to any key signature...I think I need to think about this a bit more.

Doug McMullen
11-25-2004, 03:52 PM
Use the key signatures.

When you are singing the solfege from the page circle the tonic(Do) in all octaves. The tonic is your point of reference on the staff in the same way that do is your point of reference in your ear. Don't think of the key signature as telling you where the sharps or flats are... the key signature tells you where the tonic is... and because of the sharps/flats everything else falls into its relative place. Because of key signatures the staff is a sort of moveable do system itself.

When you get into chord progressions that modulate several times (as they do in jazz standards) this becomes harder to use but still useful. But for sight-reading/sight-singing diatonic melodies key-signatures are wonderfully simple. The trick is thinking relative to the tonic instead of using the clef as an absolute reference.

In other words, go thru the melody, circle all occurences of do... and then use the position of notes relative to 'do' to tell you whether they are re mi fa so etc.

For example: You don't need to read the letter name and then translate to solfege, "Lets see that's an F# and since I'm in the key of G that must be Ti." Trust the key signature and read directly in solfege: Oh, that note is one position below the tonic, that must be Ti.

Make sense?


P.S. Yes this means you have to learn your key signatures, but it's not that hard!


no sharps or flats = C or A minor
one flat = F or Dminor

in all other cases:

Sharp keys -- go to the right-most sharp in the signature: a half step up is the (major) key of the signature.
Flat keys -- the second-to-last flat is the (major) key of the signature.

(Don't worry about solfege and minor keys right now!)


11-25-2004, 06:15 PM
Many thanks Doug! That has put everything in context for me and now makes sense to me to use the correct key signature. It shouldn't take too long to get the sigs down hopefully, I know how to construct them all from fundamental theory. Thanks again.