Sometimes it is necessary to name notes and intervals differently based on how they are functioning and I was curious if this idea caired over to solfege.

For example, the notes of a Co7 are C, Eb, Gb, and Bbb. The C would be Do, the Eb would be Me, and the Gb would be Se. Would there be a better way to describe the Bbb then La which would represent A, the enharmonic equivalent of Bbb?

  • Wouldn't 'Me' be E, rather than Eb,since solfege works using the major notes? – Tim Jul 8 '15 at 6:16
  • @Tim E is Mi and Eb is Me. – Dom Jul 8 '15 at 11:05
  • Thanks for that info. I thought I'd deleted the comment! When you hear each, how do you know which is which? – Tim Jul 8 '15 at 12:48
  • @Tim Mi is pronounced like the word "me" while Me is pronounced like "meh". – Dom Jul 8 '15 at 13:10
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    Monty Python rides again... – Tim Jul 8 '15 at 13:12

This depends in large part whether we're talking about "fixed do" or "movable do" solfege, so I'll answer from each perspective:

Movable Do

In movable-do solfege, the syllables mark the scale degree rather than the absolute pitch of the note, so the syllables used will vary depending on the key in which the chord appears. In practice, diminished seventh chords will almost always be found as a vii°7, so the top note of the diminished seventh is actually a minor sixth relative to the tonic (do). Thus, it would take the syllable "le".

For example: C°7 in practice is likely to appear in the key of Db, and since Db is then "do", the notes of the chord (C, Eb, Gb, Bbb) would be "ti", "re", "fa", and "le", respectively. You'll find that other common roots for diminished sevenths (sharp second, sharp sixth) also work out in a similar way without requiring any new solfege syllables.

Fixed Do

Traditionally, in fixed-do solfege each syllable simply names a note without regard to accidentals, so B, Bb, and Bbb would all be named "ti" (as would B sharp and double-sharp). In more recent practice, there are some systems designed to add chromatic names to fixed-do solfege. While I've never personally used any such system, Wikipedia gives an overview of a few different variants, with Bbb corresponding to "sef", "taw", or "tu", depending on which scheme is in use.

  • A diminished 7th is not equivalent to a minor 6th and that's not how fixed do works. Be would be Te not Ti. – Dom Jul 8 '15 at 1:31
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    I think you misunderstand ... I'm not saying a diminished 7th is the same as a minor 6th, I'm saying that a diminished 7th above C is the same as a minor 6th above Db. It would be very rare in practice to see C°7 in the key of C, more likely in context it is a vii°7 in the key of Db, and with Db as "do", Bbb would be "le". – hopper Jul 8 '15 at 14:11
  • Regarding fixed do, you must have been taught a differently than I was. Most articles I can find online support what I said; for example, this page says: "...in these countries fixed do solfège is taught, which means that the note names are sung regardless of key. Thus, C, C-sharp, C-flat, C double sharp or double flat are always do, no matter their harmonic context. Similarly, D, D-sharp, D-flat, D double sharp or double flat are always re, regardless of what key the music may be in." Do you have somewhere I can read about your version of fixed do? – hopper Jul 8 '15 at 14:20
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    I would agree with hopper that the Bbb, in the context of Db, would be Le. – Basstickler Oct 3 '18 at 16:38
  • hopper is right ... or Dom uses the fixed Do, but the he isn’t conform with French spelling at all. – Albrecht Hügli Mar 2 at 22:15

My students and I just had this discussion in spelling fully diminshed seveths. We think the diminished seventh should be TA. Here's why, the flatted seventh is TE, if we make it a double-flatted seventh it makes sense to use TA. It stays in the the TI family and gives a direction towards LA.

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    Makes sense when compared to Re being flatted, which is Ra. – Basstickler Oct 3 '18 at 16:34

Only in the absolute spelling (fixed Do) the syllables doremi are corresponding to the cdefg.

But in the relative spelling this tetrad c-eb-gb-bb is the VIIdim of Db (major or minor) and will be spelled ti-re-fa-le (or: se,ti,re,fa,le in Db-minor).

The seven syllables normally used for this practice in English-speaking countries are: do, re, mi, fa, sol, la, and ti (with sharpened notes of di, ri, fi, si, li and flattened notes of te, le, se, me, ra).


also see:

Tonic sol-fa (or tonic sol-fah) is a pedagogical technique for teaching sight-singing, invented by Sarah Ann Glover (1785–1867) of Norwich, England and popularised by John Curwen who adapted it from a number of earlier musical systems. It uses a system of musical notation based on movable do solfège, whereby every tone is given a name according to its relationship with other tones in the key: the usual staff notation is replaced with anglicized solfège syllables (e.g. do, re, mi, fa, sol, la, ti, do) or their abbreviations (d, r, m, f, s, l, t, d). "Do" is chosen to be the tonic of whatever key is being used (thus the terminology moveable Do). The original solfège sequence started with "Ut" which later became "Do".


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