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The Guidonic Hand (Manuscript from Mantua, late 15th century)

Solmisation is in the Middle Ages developed procedure, the pitches of a song on certain syllables to sing, "to recognize their place in the sound system (qualitas)". Presumably in the 13th century one began to name the process specifically, and spoke u. a. from solfatio, derived from the tone syllables sol and fa. Towards the end of the 15th century, the Middle Latin word formation solmisatio or solmizatio , derived from the tone syllables sol and mi. Today a distinction is made between “relative” and “absolute” solmization.

Historical summary

Tone syllables were already used in ancient China , and they are still in use in Indian music to this day. The ancient Greece knew syllables for the tetrachord . Even the Syrian and Byzantine chant used syllables, but their function is unknown.

Guido von Arezzo (born around 992) is considered the “father” of solmization , who assigned six tone syllables to the six tones of the medieval hexachord : ut, re, mi, fa, sol and la. The distance between mi and fa was half a tone, the distance between the other pitches was a whole tone. Guido had taken the tone syllables from the Latin Johannes hymn ; the hymn melody, possibly specially composed or revised, served to memorize the tone syllables including the tone levels. By the 12th century at the latest, the so-called Guidonic hand was used to convey this tone system.

For almost 600 years, the guidonic syllables did not designate fixed pitches, but specific places in the tone system, according to today's usage: "relative" pitches. Around 1600, however, French musicians began to apply the syllables to fixed pitches - ut corresponded to c, re to d, etc. To complete the pitches of the diatonic ladder, they named the seventh step si , perhaps derived from the initials of the words Sancte Ioannes, with which the Guidonic hymn closes. Even Jean-Jacques Rousseau agreed with the newer, "absolute" practice not:

“C and A denote certain, unchangeable tones that are always played with the same keys. Ut and la are different. Ut is always the keynote (tonic, first level) of a major scale and la is always the keynote of a minor scale. The French musicians strangely blurred these differences. You uselessly duplicated the names for the keys and tones and left no characters for the names of the steps. "

From the middle of the 17th century, the rather unsangible syllable ut was gradually replaced by do - the (C) major scale upwards was now called do, re, mi, fa, sol, la, si, do. The division into an older “relative” and a younger “absolute” tradition remained; the inclusion of chromatic pitches led to different consequences in the two systems.

In the 20th century, two more complex concepts, one after the other, demonstrated a certain assertiveness limited to the German-speaking area (although the influential Fritz Jöde propagated relative solmization): the "absolute" tone word from Carl Eitz and Jale , a "relative" system from Richard Münnich . Towards the end of the 20th century, a new flowering of relative solmization began to emerge in music education .

Relative solmization

Hand signals after Curwen

In 1742 Jean-Jacques Rousseau had introduced a numerical method that noted the root note with the number 1, the second step with the number 2, etc .; the seven digits were sung on the traditional syllables ut, ré, mi, fa, sol, la, si . The mathematician Pierre Galin , his student Aimé Paris and his brother-in-law Emile Chevé worked out the Rousseau method and temporarily made the Galin-Paris-Chevé method very successful. The Englishwoman Sarah Ann Glover also took up the old idea of ​​solmization and developed it further, not least by anglicating the tone syllables (doh, ray, me, fah, soh, lah, te) and abbreviating them (d, r, m, f , s, l, t) . In the syllable soh , the guidonic sol was adjusted to the other syllables ending with vowels, the te was due to the fact that an abbreviated se would not have differed from the soh . In 1842, John Curwen , an educator influenced by Heinrich Pestalozzi , published a first article on Glover's approach; as a result, he revised this approach and promoted it as the tonic-sol-fa system throughout Great Britain; In 1870 he finally supplemented the method with Aimé Paris' tactical language and hand signals he developed himself. Agnes Hundoegger adapted the principle in the Tonika-Do method for the German-speaking region, Zoltán Kodály in the Kodály method for Hungary, and Edwin Gordon in the Music Learning Theory for the USA .

In the "relative" solmization since Sarah Ann Glover, the tone syllables do, re, mi, fa, so, la, ti, do stand for any major scale (be it C major, D flat major, D major or E flat major ... ), the tone syllables la, ti, do, re, mi, fa, so, la for any natural minor scale (be it A minor, G sharp minor, G minor or F sharp minor ...). In the harmonic minor scale with their increased seventh stage from the so a si, in the melodic minor scale also from the fa a fi - increases are therefore lighter by the vowel i indicated. Accordingly, darker vowels stand for humiliation, with some authors a and o , with others consistently u . The most important high alterations are do → di, re → ri, fa → fi and so → si, the most important low alterations ti → ta, la → lo and mi → ma or ti → tu, la → lu and mi → mu .

Absolute solmization

Keyboard with French note names

The absolute solmization comes u. a. For use in Italian solfeggio lessons and in French solfège lessons , especially in countries that use the solmization syllables as tone names . In this solfeggio or solfège lesson, which takes place primarily in preparation for studies, tone sequences of all degrees of difficulty are sung on solmization syllables, with the derived tones receiving the syllable of the root tones . For example, the B major scale, the different B minor scales, the B major scale and the different B minor scales are all sung si, do, re, mi, fa, sol, la, si . C major, C minor, C sharp major and C sharp minor are called do, re, mi, fa, sol, la, si, do, A major, A minor, A major and A minor la, si , do, re, mi, fa, sol, la.


Web links

Individual evidence

  1. ^ A b Hans Heinrich Eggebrecht (Ed.): Riemann Musiklexikon. Material part. Schott, Mainz 1967. Keyword “Solmisation”.
  2. ^ Prehistory according to Willi Apel : Harvard Dictionary of Music. Heinemann, London 1976. Keywords “Solmization” and “Echos”.
  3. Ut Queant Laxis Resonare Fibris , article on, as of December 4, 2010 (English).
  4. ^ Claude V. Palisca: Guido of Arezzo. In: Stanley Sadie (Ed.): The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians. Macmillan, London 1989: 'Although the text of the hymn Ut queant laxis is found in an MS of c800 (I-Rvat Ottob. 532) and by an old tradition is ascribed to Paulus Diaconicus, the melody in question was unknown before Guido's time and never had any liturgical function. It is probable that Guido invented the melody as a mnemonic device or reworked an existing melody now lost. '
  5. ^ A b Willi Apel : Harvard Dictionary of Music. Heinemann, London 1976. Keyword “Solmization”.
  6. Quoted from Malte Heygster and Manfred Grunenberg: Handbuch der relative Solmisation. Schott, Mainz 1998. p. 7.
  7. ^ The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians. Macmillan, London 1989. Article “Rousseau, Jean-Jacques”.
  8. a b Agnes Hundoegger: Guide to the Tonika-Do teaching. Tonika-Do-Verlag, Berlin and Hanover 1925 (5th edition). P. 3.
  9. ^ The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians. Macmillan, London 1989. Article “Galin, Pierre”.
  10. John Curwen . Article on as of December 4, 2010.
  11. Agnes Hundoegger . Biography on as of December 4, 2010.
  12. Numerous attempts to adapt the Kodály system could be recorded here. The Estonian choir director Heino Kaljuste (1925–1988) developed his own solmization syllables for the territory of the USSR . Since the guidonic syllables were used there for the absolute solmization, Kaljuste used syllables with largely changed consonants, but consistently retained guidonic vowels (jo, le, mi, na, so, ra, di) , see Valeri Brainin : Скачать в формате , PDF file at, as of April 2, 2018.
  13. ^ Edwin E. Gordon: Learning Sequences in Music. A Contemporary Music Learning Theory. GIA Publications, Chicago 1980, particularly pp. 63-77. In addition to Edwin Gordon (1927–2015) in elementary music education, Dick Grove (1927–1998) was an influential advocate of the movable do in jazz education .
  14. Heike Trimpert: Solmisation: Experience music from the start! Presentation on, as of December 4, 2010.
  15. Malte Heygster and Manfred Grunenberg: Handbook of relative solmization. Schott, Mainz 1998. p. 13.
  17. ^ Henry Siler: Toward An International Solfeggio. In: Journal of Research in Music Education, spring 1956, p. 40: 'For example, in the French solfège , if we depart from the pure key of ut or C-major (read: do re mi fa sol la si do ) and go into the key of sol or G-major (read: sol la si do re mi fa sol ), or into the key of fa or F-major (read: fa sol la si do re mi fa ), there is no terminology to indicate those tones not in the "holy key of C-major." So one sings fa and thinks fa-sharp , sings si and thinks si-flat , so that by the time one arrives at seven sharps or flats everything one is saying is different from what one is thinking! '