[Smt-talk] Movable Do versus Fixed Do

Ninov, Dimitar N dn16 at txstate.edu
Thu Jul 19 00:23:54 PDT 2012

Dear Colleagues,

After such a fruitful discussion and wonderful historical references, allow me to bring back up the practical side of either system. Everybody would agree that movable Do does not work in atonal music. As for demanding tonal melodies that are saturated with chromaticism and modulations - it is of no big use there either. What remains are simple or relatively simple profiles that reinforce the T-D, T-S, and some other relationships. In other words, as Ildar points out, movable Do is mostly an initial approach designed to introduce uneducated people into the craft of singing music on paper. I would better appreciate this approach if it did not have 17 syllables - something that really makes the burden too heavy.

I also agree with Ildar that the names of the notes are only symbols. The more symbols (syllables, or letters) - the more obstacles. This is why some musicians prefer to sing with "la-la" their first sight melodies. I am certain many of you have experienced a request or two on the part of your students to sing first sight with no syllables. All that matters in this activity is to sing the right pitches- with or with no names. I was talking about the first sight singing experience, since it is one of the greatest tests for musicianship. If an instrumentalist reads music excellently at first sight, does one ask them if they understand harmony and are skilful analysts of music? No, one does not - one simply marvels at the art of sight reading. 

Fixed Do - directly corresponding to the different note and key names, and being independent of tonal-atonal premises - is a simple and universal method of reading music at sight; it helps one to acquire great speed and fluency in reading music. All you need is do, re, mi, fa, sol, la, and si - and the world is yours. The letter system - C, D, F,G, A, and B (H, for Germans) - is nothing more than a fixed Do in English or German language.

Thank you.


Dr. Dimitar Ninov, Lecturer
School of Music
Texas State University
601 University Drive
San Marcos, Texas 78666

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