When people sing the song, they use do, re, mi, fa, sol, la, ti, (si), etc, but sometimes I hear that the music people say A, B, C, D flat, etc.

Is there a relationship or are they two different things?

6 Answers 6


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

Sol-fa represents a major scale, with Do 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 do and Movable do.

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

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

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

In movable-do, 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.

  • 17
    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, 2011 at 14:37
  • 3
    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, 2011 at 14:52
  • 2
    It would appear it's not "as easy as do re mi"!!
    – corsiKa
    Dec 19, 2011 at 20:37
  • 5
    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, 2011 at 14:40
  • 1
    @DarrenRinger Doh, Fah etc are acceptable spellings according to Chambers' dictionary - but you're right, for consistency I am changing to the more common spellings.
    – slim
    Jul 18, 2017 at 15:39

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
Resonare fibris
Mira gestorum
Famuli tuorum
Solve polluti
Labii reatum
Sancte Ioannes

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

  • 1
    The names come from a poem of Paul the Deacon and set to music by Guido D'Arezzo, the inventor of modern notation (as opposed to neumatic notation). Mar 29, 2015 at 7:48
  • 3
    Still not convinced that A was chosen as la because of its whole number frequency pitch. 440 Hz is not industry standard everywhere, and probably wasn't when sol-fa/solfege was invented.
    – Tim
    Feb 27, 2016 at 9:05
  • Though i can understand it may not be standard always, in the classical period the scale was constantly changed for multiple reasons, so there is no certain way of knowing why this specific scale was the one that survived until our times
    – jclozano
    Feb 28, 2016 at 7:32
  • Also, consider that during the classical period each orchestra tried to get a commercial edge over other orchestras by constantly moving the base note towards treble to make it sound more energetic.
    – jclozano
    Jul 20, 2017 at 17:04
  • @Tim indeed, solfège was invented centuries before it was possible to measure frequency in cycles per second (because it was not yet possible to measure seconds). The idea that la was associated with A because A has an integer frequency is unfounded. In fact, la was associated with A because the phrase labii reatum of the hymn ut queant laxis starts on A.
    – phoog
    Mar 9, 2020 at 17:52

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.

  • In France, doh is always C. To change the key to G major,the root note will be called mi. Confusing ?
    – Tim
    Jan 17, 2014 at 10:14
  • 1
    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, 2014 at 19:17

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 chord is called "Do7". A G# dominant 7 chord is called "So#7".

  • It is Sol#7 , no So#7 Feb 3, 2020 at 16:15

They are the relative names of the notes with reference to each other and the tonic note. In indian music its known as(if tonic note is C#) Sa(C),Re(D),Ga(E),Ma(F),Pa(G),Dha(A),Ni(B),Sa(Upper octve C). if the tonic changes then, respectively other notes will be change accordingly. And this name are very sound friendly,when singing user can utter it easily.


Do = Tonic , Ra = Supertonic , Me = Mediant , Fa = Sub-dominant , So = Dominant ' La = Sub-mediant ' Ti = Leading note , Do = Tonic for whichever diatonic key you choose.

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