[Smt-talk] fixed- vs. movable-do

art samplaski agsvtp at hotmail.com
Sun Jul 22 16:22:50 PDT 2012

Dear List,

I have only today been able to catch up on the week's backlog of

Concerning Ildar Khannanov's post several digests ago, I have
privately replied about some things, and here merely point out
that he completely misunderstood my example of my own freshman
experience with fixed-do after learning movable-do as a child.
At the same time I was doing poorly with the new fixed-do system
I was being made to learn, __I could do all the assigned melodies
at home without problems using movable-do.__ It was purely the
result of being forced to tear down an already-built cognitive
framework that was giving me difficulties.

At least in the U.S., the continued popularity of _The Sound of
Music_ both on stage and with showings of the film--I've seen a
documentary on _TSoM_ mass singalongs, with people in costume;
"The Rocky Horror Picture Show on Valium" is a good way to
describe them:)--means that likely the vast majority of American
students grow up knowing movable-do. It thus seems pointless and
counterproductive to me to tear down that existing framework,
and we should seek other solutions.

At an Eastman music cognition symposium session a few years ago,
Betsy Marvin described to me a proposal to use the German letters
for notes as a fixed-do system, to be done in tandem with a movable
system, either solfege or scale-degrees. That to my mind is a great
solution: one gets the good aspects of a fixed-do system but with a
set of syllables that do not interfere with already-learned connotations
of the usual solfege sysllables. I know that eventually Eastman went
with fixed-do plus scale-degrees for movable relationships; she or
one of the other Eastman list-members can better discuss their

Beyond this, I wish to strongly second Dmitri Tymoczko's call for
stronger moderation of posts, and will refrain from further
participation in this thread. I do, however, want to thank Nicolas
Meeús, Ben Dobbs, and Peter Schubert for the several posts about
the earliest uses of "do" instead of "ut"--those have been extremely
helpful to me for my history-of-theory book.:)

Art Samplaski
Ithaca, NY

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