So I have been practicing sight singing since last 5-6 months. I think I'm able to read the notes in the scales quite easily using the solfege method (each scale somewhat resembling the Do-Re-Mi interval sounds from other scales).

However I hit a roadblock when it comes to accidental notes mainly because they are not part of the scale and thus the usual solfege method doesn't work here.

How can I develop my ear for accidental notes?

2 Answers 2


You seem to be using the movable doh method, where doh is the root note of each key. This is more commonly called tonic sol-fa, solfege being the French name for the system which is used universally in France and several other countries, solfeggio in Italy - fixed doh, where doh is always C.

Whichever is used, this example is in C! You are familiar with the diatonic notes of C D E F G A B, singing or calling them as d r m f s l t (doh, ray, me, fah, soh, lah, ti).

Now, the changed notes - those for which accidentals in key C would be needed - are d, r, f, s, l, and could be sharpened; and r, m, s, l, t, which could be flattened. By changing the sound of each word/name slightly, it's not too difficult to sing the non-diatonic notes. Those sharpened are: de, re, fe, se, le. Can't find how these are pronounced, but 'der, rer' will suffice. Hope someone out there can enlighten! EDIT: Seems to be a short sounding 'e', so in C, G# will be said 'said' without the d sound.Those to be flattened will be changed with an 'aw' sound found in claw. They are raw, maw, law, taw, usually written ra, ma, la, ta. Obviously la and lah can get mixed up until one is used to the system!

Using this tonic sol-fah in, say, D, the F note gets sung as 'ma'; the flattened leading note (C) gets sung as 'ta'. In the solfege system, that C will always be labelled 'doh', whatever the key.

Another related thing is to practise singing not just major scales, but chromatics as well. And familiarise yourself with intervals - be able to sing a P4, a b5, a m7, etc. You may find that working through intervals will be a different slant on your sight singing.

  • 1
    Terrific answer as always! But isn't "tonic sol–fa" slightly different from solfège? My understanding is that the former is as much a notation system as anything else.
    – Richard
    Commented Dec 11, 2018 at 17:56
  • @Richard - thanks! I need to research, but think tsf incorporates timing while solfege is simply fixed doh. Not sure yet. Doh!
    – Tim
    Commented Dec 11, 2018 at 18:24
  • Thanks a lot. I've heard about how to pronounce the accidentals (de, re, se etc.). The thing I struggle with is reproducing the sounds of accidentals because my ear is familiar only with intervals in natural/diatonic scale; Which you also mentioned in second part of your answer. I guess I have start practicing chromatic scales then. What do these mean - P4, b5 ?
    – D_S_X
    Commented Dec 11, 2018 at 19:42
  • Intervals - spaces between two notes - all have names. P4 is perfect fourth, as in C>F. b5 is a diminished fifth, as in C>Gb.
    – Tim
    Commented Dec 11, 2018 at 19:46

There is not a universal method for doing this, but here is a good way to practice the accidental notes. You are already familiar with the basic scale.

Do Re Mi Fa So La Ti Do.

To assign sharps to the notes put an i (pronounced as a long E) after the first letter of each word.

Di Ri Mi Fi Si Li Ti Di

Notice that Mi and Ti remain the same. This is because there is only a half step from these notes to the next higher one and therefore they won't be sharped. So the ascending chromatic scale is as follows.

Do Di Re Ri Mi Fa Fi So Si La Li Ti Do

To assign flats to the solfege notes, put an "e" (pronounced as a long a) after the first letter of each note except for Do and Fa. Re gets an "a" (pronounced ah).

Do Te Le Se Fa Me Ra Do

Do and Fa remain the same because they are only a half step from the note below them. Therefore the descending chromatic scale is as follows.

Do Ti Te La Le So Se Fa Mi Me Re Ra Do

In short, to assign a sharp, pronounce the note with a long e. To assign a flat, pronounce the note with a long a except for Re which becomes Rah.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.