Although I can recognize modulations by ear, I'm having difficulties when I attempt to sight-sing a modulating melody that passes from minor into parallel major or vice versa.

An exercise from the book I use goes like this:

Sol Le Sol Fa Sol Sol / Sol La Ti Do Re Re

Or you might prefer this:

P5 m6 P5 P4 P5 P5 / P5 M6 M7 P8 M9 M9

This line is somewhat easy as it reminds me of melodic minor.

Do Ti La Sol Fa Fa / Sol Fa Me Re Do Do

P8 M7 M6 P5 P4 P4 / P5 P4 m3 M2 P1 P1

This one however takes forever because each time I have to alter the third degree, I go back to the root and sing the whole parallel scale. Any tip/advice is appreciated!

  • 2
    To get maximum exposure I would recommend adding the note names and/or scale degrees as many more people are familiar with those than with solfege.
    – Fergus
    Mar 17 '14 at 3:41
  • 1
    Like Fergus said, I'd be able to answer this if it was in some musical format I could understand. Apart from that 'doe, a deer, a female deer...' song from primary school I know nada about this.
    – MMJZ
    Mar 29 '14 at 14:20
  • Are you singing from solfege notation? Maybe it's time to discard this teaching device and move on to notation. May 21 '17 at 17:14

The answer is simple: you need to get the sounds in your ear before you can externalize (sing) them.

Try the following as an exercise:

  1. Sing a major scale with correct solfege (up and down)
  2. Begin singing a minor scale with appropriate solfege
  3. Before you get to the third scale degree, stop, and alter the next pitch in your head (bringing it down a half-step if you're hearing it as a major 3rd) while reminding yourself of the appropriate solfege.
  4. Sing the now altered pitch with appropriate solfege an intonation.
  5. Repeat this for the 6th and 7th scale degrees.

Once you are proficient with altering the tones individually, practicing singing through each of your major / minor scales making parallel alterations. For a example, a typical sequence would be:

  • Sing major scale
  • Sing natural minor scale
  • Sing harmonic minor scale
  • Sing melodic minor scale

Additionally, singing through your modes is a great way to re-contextualize pitches that are already in your ear, thus making them (and the intervals therein) more stable for future use.


Generally, teaching the major minor distinction in solfege has two sides to it; one is to sing scales and understand it theoretically like you and jjmusicnotes. The other is to have repertoire that you know the melodies of instinctively, that contain the solfege difficulty.

I can't tell from your post what music you prefer, but standards are often a good choice because the melodic properties have delightful reflections in the texts. You might start with "Blue Skies", the melody of which will take you, in the A section, through a relative major and minor, and in the B section, a major pentachord with a minor sixth on top at "Never saw the sun shining so bright..." That phrase will help you switch between major and minor tonalities nicely.

For switching in between major and minor thirds I recommend Gershwin's "Looking for a Boy" which switches between M3 and m3 not only with great frequency but with wonderful style and relation to the lyrics. There's really endless wonderful Gershwin for developing your major/minor instincts!

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