[Smt-talk] more on movable-do tradition in the U.S. and Great Britain

Ildar Khannanov solfeggio7 at yahoo.com
Mon Jul 16 23:18:12 PDT 2012

Dear Carol and the List,
these are well-known facts. Congregational minister was a self-taught musician. The system was intended primarily for adult church choir members with little or no musical education. Just to hold on to seven scale steps when singing tunelets and to avoid sight singing at all costs. Charles Ives had nothing to do with tradition of tonal music which is discussed here. Nameless "English choral tradition" simply does not count when we compare two systems of solfege. How many great composers and performers of the past two centuries (within the conservatory tradition) studied Curwen's Sol-Fa and how many--solfeggio or solfege? I cannot even list the latter, it would take some 15 pages.
What are the advantages of moveable Do for learning serious, lagre-scale tonal works? Besides the one mentioned already ( an adult learner having difficulty grasping the concept of tonic in different keys and measuring the distances from it to mediant, subdominant, dominant, submediant and leading tone?--this it not a problem for a 5-year-old, though)? Modulation is the driving force of large-scale form; relationship of key areas is the most important element of pitch structure. How the moveable Do can help learning these aspects?
Dr. Ildar Khannanov
Professor of Music Theory
Peabody Conservatory
solfeggio7 at yahoo.com

--- On Mon, 7/16/12, Carol Baron <cbaron at ms.cc.sunysb.edu> wrote:

From: Carol Baron <cbaron at ms.cc.sunysb.edu>
Subject: [Smt-talk] more on movable-do tradition in the U.S. and Great Britain
To: smt-talk at lists.societymusictheory.org
Date: Monday, July 16, 2012, 4:55 PM

Dear List,

With apologies for self-promotion, Charles Ives's education in the movable-do tradition is discussed in my article "George Ives's Essay in Music Theory: An Introduction and Annotated Edition" in American Music 10/3 (Fall 1992). It discusses his father's teaching of the Tonic Sol-fa System, a movable do system, which George credits to the English Congregationalist minister John Curwen (1816-80). A conductor, George Ives used the Tonic Sol-fa System to teach just intonation to his choruses, because he believed this tuning was more pleasing and expressive for the diatonic music they usually sang. George Ives's work was mentioned in the first issue of the bulletin of the American branch of the Tonic Sol-faists in February 1882. 

Curwen's system was extremely popular in Great Britain, where it was the basis of a national system for teaching singing; its accomplishments were touted in an1884 letter to the London Times: "At the most modest estimate, during the 30 years our system has been at work, we have taught at least the elements of music to four million persons." The system fed into the impressive 19th-century English choral tradition and its popular organization, whose publications of the works they sang included solfège syllables above the musical staves.

Carol K. Baron
cbaron at ms.cc.sunysb.edu

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