Abstracts of issue 9 (1997)

Michalis Patseas

The Use of the Relative Sol-Fa in the Countries of the Absolute Do

Those who try to apply the Kodály Method in any country using the Fixed Do, face always a problem concerning the use of the Relative Solmization.
  1. We have to distinguish the use of each note nomenclature:
    1. Absolute / Fixed name (clavis) signifies:
      1. a string or a key of an instrument or a fingering on it,
      2. the written / printed sign used to represent it, and
      3. a sound of a certain (fixed) pitch produced by it (e.g. A, B, C letter names).
    2. Relative / Movable name (vox) signifies the interval relationship of a sound to another, and possibly the position and the importance of this sound in the frame of a melody or a tonality (e.g. ut, re, mi Guidonian syllables). A problem arises after the 16th century, when those syllables start being used as absolute note names in the Latin countries.
  2. The absolute note names are very essential in instrumental music, but they are not suitable for vocal and aural training. The solfege training using Do, Re, Mi syllables as absolute note names (Wilhem method), though seemingly practical, is a kind of cheat, since with the name of a syllable one can sing five different notes. Finally any absolute note names system can not provide help to the average (non instrumentalist) music lover to understand and read music.
  3. Relative solmization, deriving from the Guidonian hexachord system, the Tonic Sol-Fa system of John Curwen, and perfected by Zoltan Kodály, has been proven an excellent method for vocal and aural training.
  4. Differentiating between absolute Do, Re, Mi, Fa, Sol, La, Si and relative do, re, mi, fa, so, la, ti, and using each one for its purposes may solve the problem.

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