Depending on which country you are from in this beautiful world you may have been introduced to music theory in a different way. Some countries use do re mi fa sol la ti do, and some countries use alphabet letters instead.
So, what is the difference between Do Re Me and A B C really? And which one is best to learn from?
I’ll give you my opinion in this brief article:
In the movie “The Sound of Music” Maria describes “do re mi” as being similar to the alphabet, because they both start at the beginning of a musical scale.
What they have in common is that they are both the first three syllables of a pattern. ABC starts off the sequence of letters in the English alphabet, and they are a way of categorizing the sounds we hear and speak in the English language.
Do, re, mi, are the first three syllables that represent the first three notes or “tones/pitches” of a scale.
Not every country uses the same method of do, re mi!
The official name for this is “solfege”. If you are in the key of C Major, “do” would be C, “re” would be D, and “mi” would be E, etc. Or if you are in the key of A Major, “do” is A, “re” is B, “mi” is C#.
I hope that’s super easy to understand so far. The United States uses only A, B, C, (etc) and many European countries use “do, re, mi etc”. The rest of the world is a mix. But, it really depends on where you are and the teacher you are studying from. So, don’t take this as a 100% truth.
Which method is better?
My little ole’ opinion is to use A,B,C… and this is why:
Not every country uses the exact same method of do, re mi. So it gets a little confusing.
Some people use Moveable “do”, and some use Fixed “do”.
This can be quite confusing.
Here is the difference:
This is when Do depends on the key you’re in.
A Major: do=A,
B Major: do=B,
Gb Major: do=Gb.
This means that do never changes. The pitch C is “do” no matter what key you are in.
A Major: do=C, A=la
B Major: do=C, B=ti, etc.
Here is a basic scale in solfege:
do (like dough)
re (like ray without the “y”)
mi (like me)
fa (as in far)
so (like it looks)
la (like it looks)
ti (like tea)
Each syllable also as a corresponding hand sign. They do this so that you use more of your senses. Sight, sound, and movement/touch. This is sometimes referred to as Kinesthetic or Tactile Learning.
Choir directors who teach with this method are really good at flashing these signs at choir members to help them find the correct pitches quickly (kind of cool).
So, to end off this little discussion I’d say that because of the confusion of ‘moveable’ or ‘fixed’ do the A B C method is more universal. I am, of course a little bias since I studied music here in the U.S., but there you have it.
I bet you’re smarter now, and the next time you come across this subject you may be able to join in on the conversation as well.
It’s worth it to get to know these signs and syllables. They will broaden your scope as a musician and intervals will make even more sense to you as you continue learning.
Love your effort – let me know how you’re doing as a student of flute playing.