[Smt-talk] Movable-Do

Root, Jena jroot at ysu.edu
Sat Jul 14 19:53:31 PDT 2012

Dr. Ninov,

I'm bracing myself for the fixed/movable debate that I am certain is 
about to follow on this list, but I have zero interest in engaging it 
myself. Rather, I would like to pose a sincere question: Do you feel it 
is important for students to internalize scale-degree relationships 
while singing/hearing? And if so, what method do you use to teach those 

As more general comment to Dr. Noll and the list, when I have taught at 
'fixed-do schools', I have found the usual MO is to teach a combination 
of fixed-do (for absolute values) and scale-degree numbers (for 
relational values), so as not to muddy the syntax of the two systems. On 
the flip-side, movable-do is sometimes used in conjunction with German 
letter names (Cees, Dees, etc.), for the same reason.

Best wishes,
Jena Root

Dr. Jena Root
Assistant Professor, Music Theory Coordinator
Youngstown State University
Bliss Hall 3149

On 7/14/2012 3:04 PM, smt-talk-request at lists.societymusictheory.org wrote:
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> Today's Topics:
>     1. Movable Do Subculture (Ninov, Dimitar N)
>     2. Re: Movable-Do subculture in the Romance tradition?
>        (Nicolas Mee?s)
> ----------------------------------------------------------------------
> Message: 1
> Date: Fri, 13 Jul 2012 00:57:21 -0500
> From: "Ninov, Dimitar N" <dn16 at txstate.edu>
> To: "smt-talk at lists.societymusictheory.org"
> 	<smt-talk at lists.societymusictheory.org>
> Subject: [Smt-talk] Movable Do Subculture
> Message-ID:
> 	<863F27D9B562F4429B340BA70B1F0169013906190E1C at BOBCATMAIL3.matrix.txstate.edu>
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> Not to speak of the fact that movable Do is clumsy and inadequate with its 17 syllables, especially when singing melodies with modulations and atonal fragments. Fixed Do is singing by using the names of the notes,which is the most natural approach to singing - as if English speaking musicians sing with letters. In this sense, it is not necessarily a system. In my view, American students (except those who study fixed Do at Eastman and other conservatories) are crippled through the massive application of fixed Do, which was probably created by Zoltan Kodaly for the children in the kindergarten.
> Singing at first sight is a special activity, and it is there where the qualities of a system comes forward. A movable Do singer does a mathematical work, for he/she imagines the name of the note as a letter first (A, B, C, etc.) and then they translate that real name to a syllable. This unnecessary process slows down the reading of music, and when they face a modulating melody, they have to do the math as of where exactly the modulation occurs; for they have to accommodate the new tonic by changing the syllables. However, first sight singing is about singing smoothly through an unfamiliar fragment, not to make an analysis during the process of singing. I am yet to see a good movable Do singer at first sight. Even if they had a perfect pitch, they would stumble upon a syllable, if they had to use movable Do.
> In my teaching at Texas State, I had to switch to movable Do (because of the policy of the school), and I was able to realize how far behind the education in sight singing was. More that 10 years ago, when I taught at the University of South Carolina (where Prof. Dorothy Payne, an Eastman graduate, had introduced fixed Do), I did not see so many problems in our students' singing. Unfortunately, after Dorothy's retiring, the movable Do was introduced there too.
> You do not need 17 syllables to sing.You do not have to imagine the solmization syllables as an exotic tool that should be moved around. If my English speaking colleagues imagined for a second that their letter system (C, D, E, etc.) was movable, and they had to look at E-flat major and call it "C", they would be appalled with such a prospective! In the same manner, most Europeans are appalled when someone is making them changing the names of the notes. A colleague of mine in the Bukarest conservatory told me a story about an American professor visiting a class there; he sang different examples in movable Do. The students looked with condescension at his heroic attempts to sing through with strange syllables, and then they sang naturally the same examples twice as fast than he. Embarrassment. Movable Do.
> Best regards,
> Dimitar Ninov
> Dr. Dimitar Ninov, Lecturer
> School of Music
> Texas State University
> 601 University Drive
> San Marcos, Texas 78666
> ------------------------------
> Message: 2
> Date: Thu, 12 Jul 2012 19:23:05 +0200
> From: Nicolas Mee?s <nicolas.meeus at paris-sorbonne.fr>
> To: Thomas Noll <noll at cs.tu-berlin.de>
> Cc: smt-talk at lists.societymusictheory.org
> Subject: Re: [Smt-talk] Movable-Do subculture in the Romance
> 	tradition?
> Message-ID: <4FFF07F9.2040303 at paris-sorbonne.fr>
> Content-Type: text/plain; charset="iso-8859-1"; Format="flowed"
> The solmisation syllables have long been used, in the French tradition,
> as ...solmisation syllables. The conversion to fixed-do solf?ge, in
> France, was not performed before the middle or the second half of the
> 18th century. Movable-do remained in (diminishing) usage at least until
> the creation of the Paris Conservatoire around 1798.
> Several French-speaking pedagogies today make use of the Kod?ly method
> (including movable-do), especially for young children. See for instance
> http://www.kodaly.fr/.
> Nicolas Mee?s
> Universit? Paris-Sorbonne
> Le 11/07/2012 10:27, Thomas Noll a ?crit :
>> Dear Colleagues,
>> the conversion of the medieval solmisation syllables into note names
>> in the Romance tradition corresponds to a preference for fixed-do
>> solf?ge practice.
>> Movable-Do proponents would perhaps need to introduce alternative
>> syllables in order to avoid confusion with the note names. Is there an
>> established Movable-Do subculture somewhere within the Romance tradition?
>> Sincerely
>> Thomas Noll
>> *********************************************************
>> Thomas Noll
>> http://user.cs.tu-berlin.de/~noll <http://user.cs.tu-berlin.de/%7Enoll>
>> noll at cs.tu-berlin.de <mailto:noll at cs.tu-berlin.de>
>> Escola Superior de Musica de Catalunya, Barcelona
>> Departament de Teoria i Composici?
>> *********************************************************
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