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When the people sing the song, we use do, re, mi, fa, sol, la, ti (or si).... but some time I hear that the music people say A, B, C, or C flat..., what is their relationship? or are they two different things? Thanks.

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4 Answers 4

up vote 32 down vote accepted

Do-re-mi-etc. is "sol-fa" or "solfege".

Sol-fa represents a major scale, with Doh being the first note, Re being the second, and so on. I'm sure you can sing that scale.

The A-G note names are absolute names for a certain note. An 'A' is an 'A' no matter what key you are performing in.

There are two variants of sol-fa. Fixed doh and Movable doh.

Fixed doh is used in China, France, Italy, Portugal, Spain, Romania, Russia, South America and parts of North America, Japan, and Vietnam.

In fixed-doh, Doh is always equivalent to C; Re is always equivalent to D; and so on.

Movable Doh is used in Britain, Germany, Indian classical music, and the United States.

In movable-doh, you can pick a different pitch to start on, and sing Do-re-mi-... starting at that note. What you are doing when you do that is singing the major scale in different keys.

If you are singing in C major, d,r,m,f,s,l,t,d is C,D,E,F,G,A,B,C

If you are singing in D major, d,r,m,f,s,l,t,d is D,E,F♯,G,A,B,C♯,D

... and so on.

In both forms, there are other phonetic names for sharp and flat names. The complete list is on Wikipedia.

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5  
Interesting to note: in some languages (french, italian, spanish), the do-ré-mi are actually note names. Do is C, ré is D, mi is E, and so on. –  Gauthier Dec 19 '11 at 14:34
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Also interesting, the do re mi syllables come from a song in latin. Each phrase starts on a different tone, starting with the tonic for the first phrase, and one step up for every phrase. The first syllables of every phrases give: ut re mi fa so la si ut. I do not know when, where, and why ut got changed to do. A source: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solf%C3%A8ge –  Gauthier Dec 19 '11 at 14:37
1  
The alternative phonetic names for sharp and flat are not in use in fixed doh countries (see the table "Traditional fixed do" in your link to Wikipedia). In France at least, the altered notes are named in a way very similar to the anglo-saxon way: C sharp is "do dièse", B flat is "si bémol". When singing and naming the notes' name at the same time, the alteration is discarded (you would sing the syllable "si" while singing a B flat). –  Gauthier Dec 19 '11 at 14:52
2  
It would appear it's not "as easy as do re mi"!! –  corsiKa Dec 19 '11 at 20:37
3  
In Indian classical music, you are correct that the concept of solfege is there, but you should probably note that the syllables are different: sa re ga ma pa dha ni. –  Babu Dec 20 '11 at 14:40

On a Fixed Do scale the A Note is assigned to La, the A was assigned because it has the precision of the frequency (440 Hz) which doesn't have decimals, so it's easier to remember. So you end up with a correspondence as follows

A = La
B = Si
C = Do
D = Re
E = Mi
F = Fa
G = Sol

Take into account that while on the english notation (A,B,C,D) you start on the 400 Hz note which is A4, on fixed Do you start on the first discernible note (which is C0 at 16.3516 Hz)

By the way the note names on the Fixed Do scale come from a poem of the benedictine monk "Paul the Deacon" which goes like this:

Ut queant laxis
Re sonare fibris
Mi ra gestorum
Fa muli tuorum
Sol ve polluti
La bii reatum
S ancte I oannes

And the Ut was replaced by Do to make it easier to say on the Romance languages

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3  
Why would A be 'la' because it's 440 Hz ? –  Tim Jan 4 at 13:04
    
Thanks Tim, i just edited the answer –  jclozano Jan 8 at 18:04

If you have ever looked at pop sheet music in Spanish, you'll see that they don't use "C, D, E, F, G, A, B" at all. They only call notes by their Fixed Do names.

In Spanish sheet music, a C dominant 7 cord is called "Do7". A G# dominant 7 chord is called "So#7".

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Solfege (do, re, mi, ...) is a numbering system which starts from the first note of the scale (do=1, re=2, ...). Solfege identifies the position of the note in the scale.

Pitch names are a numbering system which starts from a particular sound (A440 or concert A=1, B=2, ...). Pitch names identify the sound of the note in the scale.

Take an example. Say you are singing a song that’s in F major. The pitch names for that scale will be F G A B♭ C D E F, and the solfege for that scale will be do re mi fa so la ti do.

Now, sing that song in G major. The pitch names will change to G A B C D E F♯ G, but the solfege for that scale will still be do re mi fa so la ti do.

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In France, doh is always C. To change the key to G major,the root note will be called mi. Confusing ? –  Tim Jan 17 at 10:14
    
I'm talking rubbish, above. If you're in F, in France, you'd be in fa. So changing to G you'd be in So. So fa so good. –  Tim Jan 17 at 19:17

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