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Lessons 69-70

Syllables & Numbers


Note: My students do not use Solfeggio (Do-Re-Mi, etc.) Instead they use numbers to identify the scale elements. This is more in keeping with modern practice among pop musicians who play by ear.

The lesson itself is very straightforward. In this suppliment, we seek to train the ear with the sounds of the individual notes of the major scale.

The Reason for Syllables/Numbers:  Each note of a scale has a unique sound based on its relationship to the key. In that famous scene from The Sound of Music, Julie Andrews is teaching these sounds to the children. As they wander through Salzburg singing variations on this song, she uses the syllables as a command for the children to sing a certain pitch.

Modern musicians who play by ear usually think in terms of numbered elements of the scale. If a song is playing within earshot, we instinctively know if the current note is "3" or "5".  We may note know what key the music is in, but we know that Jingle Bells is 3-3-3, 3-3-3, 3-5-1-2-3 in any key.

Here are some examples to listen to:

(Coming soon will be songs for the chromatic tones that are now omitted. Suggestions would be appreciated for the #1/b2, aka "Di." Also, I could use a better song to illustrate the Major 7th. I almost opted for Stella by Starlight, but it would've been the only song where the pitch in question wasn't the first note of the song.)


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