Wednesday, October 3, 2007
Solfege for the people
I was in south africa last summer (I noticed Nkosi sikelel iAfrica in the study questions of chapter 5 of the cooke) and I was surprised and delighted to observe their musical traditions and practice. I traveled there with a 30 person chorus to learn and sing folk songs from many different cultures, including south Africa. naturally, they learn most of their own folk songs just growing up and hearing them. There are also accompanying dances. i didn't expect them to know solfege, but lo' and behold, they did!. they all were quite fluent with what they call the "tonic sol fa" system. A series of punctuation marks connote rhythm and then the syllables are actually written out. eg. do re mi fa .... As you might have already guessed they use movable do, and usually during a song, the pitch progressively slides highr and higher as they become more excited, and as they realize that it was too low even for the basses. Like I said, movable do. I found this very interesting - I sing a lot of folk music with various choirs, and people almost look down on me for knowing how to sight sing, especially with a "classical" method such as solfege. But there they were, folk song and dance mixed with solfege. Fascinating.