Do Re Mi Fa

Introduction to Solmization – Learn How to Read Music Notes in Singing

Do-Re-Mi-Fa Course Index:

Being able to read music notes in singing by means of relative note names ( do re mi fa sol la ti do ) is a very useful skill for anyone who has anything to do with music. The following benefits come along when learning this skill properly:

  • the ability to write out songs and melodies that you hear on the radio or in your head.
  • You will learn to read music with any kind of instruments much quicker as you have a natural understanding of notes and melodies.
  • If you join a choir, reading music notes is a crucial skill which will enable you to sing new material almost instantly.
  • Practicing frequently will help you develop a feeling for each note and its function within a scale and harmonical environment.
  • Singing music notes trains your musical ear. Practicing this skill I learned as much as I did by other ear training methods.
  • You will become a better singer.

Music language

In my eyes, studying music is like studying a new language. Studying music theory is like studying grammar. Composing music could be compared to writing a text where you have an overall structure or form. In this form a paragraph could be seen as a musical period. The comparison between musical and linguistic phrases is also not far-fetched. If you go on you will certainly find much more analogies between this two topics. The most relevant analogies for us here are the ones between singing and speaking and of course reading music notes and reading a text.

It takes a long time and effort to learn a new language. Nonetheless, you can enjoy it as you see yourself getting better and better, by applying it along the way.

Bear these analogies in mind. If you find yourself unmotivated caused by lack of progress think back to the time when you were learning a foreign language. It probably took you a long time to get a good feeling for words. It most certainly took you even longer to get a feeling for right phrases.

Also remember the benefits that I mentioned or even better, think of your own benefits that will keep you motivated.


Solmization is a system wherein unique syllables are linked to each note of a musical scale. It was developed in the medieval and is still in use in different forms throughout the world. The syllables for a major scale are:

  • Do Re Mi Fa Sol La Ti (Do)

If you play the c-major scale on a keyboard, which are all white keys played beginning at c, you get c → do, d → re, e → mi, f → fa, g → sol, a → la, b → ti. Analyzing the intervals you find a half tone step between mi and fa and between ti and do. The position of these semitones within the scale gives it its characteristic.

Solmization introduces a relative tone system whereas generally we work with an absolute one. In an absolute system, each note refers to a specific frequency. For example: a’ → 440Hz. In a relative system, the relation between the notes is more important. In “do re mi fa sol la ti do“ the relation between each note is determined, but the frequency for do is variable. It is like a ruler that you can lay down on different places to see where your sol is, when your do is a at this or that note.

Exercise 1: Play a singable note on your preferred instrument and sing the major scale on the syllables do re mi fa sol la ti do ti la sol fa mi re do up and down. In the beginning, you can play along with your instrument as you sing. Practicing this exercise you will get used to the syllables, their order and their sound within the scale. You also learn to think relatively which is a very important ability as you sing more complicated songs.

Exercise 2: You can do this exercise alone or with a partner. Take your left hand and look at your fingers. Each finger and each flap of skin between your finger stands for a syllable (see illustration). Pinky → do; Space between pinky and ring finger → re, ring finger → mi …. Define the absolute note of a syllable by the help of a tuning fork or an instrument. Now tap with your right index finger on a random finger or flap of skin between two fingers and sing the corresponding syllable with the correct pitch relative to the defined note. Vary your initial defined anchor note from time to time. Practice until you are able to find the correct notes at decent speed. If you have practiced alone until now ask, someone else to tap his fingers for you as it is more challenging

If you feel comfortable with the first two exercises you have internalized the relative tone system good enough to start using it in everyday situations. To get started with this, I give you a two-part exercise, which is quite fun and challenging. For the first one sing the relative notes below and try to recognize the famous melody hiding within them. I haven’t added rhythm but I think you should still be able to identify them.

Exercise 3: Sing the following relative notes and try to name the song they are part of. A { , } means that the note lies beneath the central do and {  ‘  } that it lies one octave above.

  1. sol, do do do mi re do re mi re do do mi sol la la sol mi mi do re do re mi re do la, la, sol, do
  2. sol, do do re do ti, la, la, la, re re mi re do ti, sol, sol, mi mi fa mi re do la, sol, sol, la, re ti, do
  3. sol mi mi sol la re re mi fa do’ do’ ti sol la sol fa mi sol la la la re’ do’ ti do’ la sol do re mi la sol sol fa mi re ti, do
  4. do’ sol la mi fa do fa sol
  5. do sol, do sol, do sol, do mi sol fa re fa re fa re ti, re sol,
  6. do do’ ti sol la ti do’ do la sol la, fa mi do re mi fa re ti do re mi do
  7. do re mi do do re mi do mi fa sol mi fa sol sol la sol fa mi do sol la sol fa mi do do sol, do do sol, do
  8. do do re ti do re mi mi fa mi re do re do ti do
  9. Verse: sol, mi re do sol, sol, sol, sol, mi re do la, la, la, fa mi re ti, sol sol fa re mi  Chorus: mi mi mi mi mi mi mi sol do re mi mi fa fa fa sol fa mi mi mi mi re re mi re sol
  10. mi mi fa sol sol fa mi re do do re mi mi re re mi mi fa sol sol fa mi re do do re mi re do do

You can write down your answers in the comments below if you like. The second part of this exercise is to make it a habit to translate melodies, which come across in your everyday life, into syllables. If you listen to the radio, lie in bed or wait at the dentists practice to analyze the music with the relative tone system.

A huge advantage of this system is that you can use it no matter what instrument you play. If you can play scales on your instrument and know the relative note names of a song you are able to play it instantly.

If you like to practice solmization use my course. Start out with the >>instruction<<.

Also Consider


Do-Re-Mi-Fa Course Index: