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In Fixed DO Solfege, you are essentially memorizing the pitch in association with the pitch's name. From what I can understand, you can hear any note without establishing a tonal center as in you can just hear what the note C on the piano sounds like in your head since you memorized it. This to me is the same thing as Absolute pitch which is not something you can learn as an adult (there is a lot of debate on this, but there is never a clear answer, and I have never heard of anyone without Absolute Pitch ever obtaining it as an adult).

So why are so many schools teaching Fixed DO Solfege instead of Movable DO Solfege when most people aren't born with Absolute/Perfect Pitch?

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  • An advantage of learning fixed do is that you will have an easier time communicating with people from certain countries. Note that it is possible to learn both. May 20, 2022 at 19:05

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This sounds like a misunderstanding of Fixed Do. Fixed Do is, primarily, a sight-reading and relative-pitch ear-training tool, but it does not rely on identifying the starting pitch by ear. One does not memorize the sound of any particular pitch. In effect, Fixed Do just substitutes the solfege syllables for the note names.

In Fixed (or Movable) Do, one is given, at minimum, the starting pitch (or starting syllable), and then uses the Do system as a mnemonic for sight-reading or by-ear-identifying subsequent pitches.

Fixed Do is often taught at beginning levels, as it's a simpler system that Moveable Do, which requires an understanding of the functional role of pitches within a key. That is, Fixed Do simply identifies pitches; Moveable Do identifies pitch-function.

Absolute pitch is as described: the ability to immediately identify a heard pitch.

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  • But in Fixed DO Solfege, DO is always the note C. So how can you sing DO without knowing what it sounds like unless you have already memorized it?
    – John Lok
    May 20, 2022 at 18:53
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    @JohnLok By someone playing C for you so you can hear it.
    – Aaron
    May 20, 2022 at 19:03
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    @JohnLok - Or, you can choose any old note that fits well with your voice, and use that as your basis. May 20, 2022 at 19:05
  • The purpose of Fixed DO Solfege is just to make it easier to say the note names by using aliases? I see online how some people prefer Fixed over Movable solfege and their reason is that chromatic notes and key changes tend to be difficult for Movable solfege as you have to change the perception of the tonal center on the fly depending on the song. Fixed solfege solves this issue because the pitches and their solfege syllables are absolute so you can play what you hear without a tonic and can be applied to also atonal music. I feel like these Fixed Do Solfege people also have Absolute pitch.
    – John Lok
    May 20, 2022 at 19:16
  • @JohnLok I have been taught both Fixed and Moveable Do, and I can assure you that neither I nor my teachers had absolute pitch.
    – Aaron
    May 20, 2022 at 19:21
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Learning absolute pitch? It'something that's nigh on impossible. After many, many years as a muso, I can recognise, or sing, a single C note accurately 9 times out of 10. But that doesn't mean I have absolute (perfect) pitch ! Nothing like. Most folk are born with it - or not...

So the question is based on a questionable basis.

Fixed do means each and every note will have its own name, regardless of key. Do is always do, is always C. The other option is moveable do, where we take the tonic in a key to be do. Thus in key E♭, E♭ is do, in key F♯, F♯ is do.

The two can be very confusing - and if we add actual letter names into the equation, there are now three different ways to name notes! I work with a French band, and every muso there talks in 'fixed do'. For me, brought up on moveable do, it gets completely confusing, and could easily be remedied by everyone simply using the note names themselves. For example, a piece in key E♭ , talking about an 'F' note - in French that becomes 'fa', but to me it's 're'. Same note, same sound.

I think your premise is skewed, as even in fixed do, most folk are not able, or capable, of 'hearing note C'. If they were, they might have absolute pitch - and there wouldn't be any (pitch recognition) problems anyhow!

Of the two, moveable do has more advantages, as everything becomes relative, dependent on key, whereas fixed do by definition, must use 'accidentals' for some diatonic notes (ecept key C!), which creates problems when singing - single syllables suddenly become impossible for some notes.

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In Fixed DO Solfege, you are essentially memorizing the pitch in association with the pitch's name.

This isn't quite correct. Fixed Do is a system for naming pitches, just as the letter names are a system for naming pitches. The relationship between the two systems is fixed, but in neither case is it necessary to be able to know precisely what frequency (or, more precisely, what range of frequencies) is denoted by any name. When you learn fixed do, you learn the identity of each pitch name, perhaps by associating it with a letter name. If you're a beginning music student from a country like France or Italy that doesn't use letter names, you learn fixed do by associating each name with a particular key or fingering or combination of string and hand position on whatever instrument you're learning, and also by associating each name with a particular position on the musical staff.

Consider: you can learn that a melody is F-G-A-F, or you can learn that it is fa-sol-la-fa in fixed do or do-re-mi-do in movable do. None of this requires you to know what frequencies each of these pitches has. Indeed, even if you have absolute pitch, you don't necessarily know what frequencies they have, because A could be 440 Hz or or 442 Hz or 435 Hz or 460 Hz or 415 Hz or even 390 Hz or something else.

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