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Solmization

Solmization is a system of attributing a distinct syllable to each note in a musical scale. Various forms of solmization are in use and have been used throughout the world, but solfège is the most common convention in Europe and The Americas.

Overview

The seven syllables normally used for this practice in English-speaking countries are: do, re, mi, fa, sol, la, and ti (with sharpened notes of di, ri, fi, si, li and flattened notes of te, le, se, me, ra).

Guido of Arezzo is widely considered to be the origin of the European tradition of solmization. In Guido's Micrologus (1026), the ut–re–mi–fa–so–la syllables are derived from the initial syllables of each of the first six half-lines of the first stanza of the hymn Ut queant laxis, whose text is attributed to the Italian monk and scholar Paulus Diaconus. Giovanni Battista Doni is known for having changed the name of note "Ut" (C), renaming it "Do" (in the "Do Re Mi ..." sequence known as solfège). An alternative explanation, first proposed by Franciszek Meninski in Thesaurus Linguarum Orientalum (1680) and later by J.-B. Laborde in Essai sur la Musique Ancienne et Moderne (1780), is that the syllables were derived from the Arabic solmization system درر مفصّلات Durar Mufaṣṣalāt ("Separated Pearls") (dāl, rā', mīm, fā', ṣād, lām, tā') during the Middle Ages, but there is no documentary evidence for it.

Svara solmization of India has origins in Vedic texts like the Upanishads, which discuss a musical system of seven notes, realized ultimately in what is known as sargam. In Indian classical music, the notes in order are: sa, re, ga, ma, pa, dha, and ni, which correspond to the Western solfege system.

Byzantine music uses syllables derived from the Greek alphabet to name notes: starting with C, the notes are ni (eta), pa (alpha), vu (beta), ga (gamma), di (delta), ke (epsilon), zo (zeta).

In Han people's music in China, the words used to name notes are (from fa to mi): 上 (siong or shàng), 尺 (cei or chǐ), 工 (gōng), 凡 (huan or fán), 六 (liuo or liù), 五 (ngou or ), 乙 (yik or ). The system is used for teaching sight-singing.

In Japanese music, the first line of Iroha, an ancient poem used as an "ABC" of traditional kana, is used for solmization. The syllables representing the notes A, B, C, D, E, F, G are i, ro, ha, ni, ho, he, to respectively. Shakuhachi musical notation uses another solmization system beginning "Fu Ho U".

In Indonesia, Javanese musicians derive syllables from numbers: ji-ro-lu-pat-ma-nem-pi. These names derive from one-syllable simplification of the Javanese numerals siji, loro, telu, papat, lima, enem, pitu. ([Pa]pat and pi[tu], corresponding to 4 and 7, are skipped in slendro.)

In Scotland, Canntaireachd was used as a means of communicating bagpipe music verbally.