View Full Version : Solfege Hand Signs

10-03-2002, 08:54 AM
Hi there,

Quite a few people requested the hand signs for Solfege. Here we go:

"Hand signs are a way of giving a physical placement for a vocal pitch. The low "do" begins at your midsection. Each pitch is then above the previous one. Thus, you have the hand signs going up when the pitch goes up. The upper "do" is at eye level."

10-05-2002, 12:44 PM
Did you ever see "Close Encounters of the Third Kind"?

10-05-2002, 01:39 PM
Ages ago - can't really remember - why :confused:


10-05-2002, 02:52 PM
I think I remember them using these signs to tell the keyboardist what tones to play when trying to communicate with the alien ship.

re me do (down 8va) do so

10-07-2002, 11:12 PM
CEOT3K was also the first thing I thought of when I saw this post. :)

they did use those handsigns, and they also used the terms "quaver" (eighth note) and "semiquaver" (sixteenth note), which i never understood until i started reading my guitar handbook. they probably also used some other terms, but those are the ones that always stuck in my brain.

10-08-2002, 10:32 AM
okok, I really gotta check out that movie now ..... can't remember at all. :mad:


Bongo Boy
10-08-2002, 01:52 PM
Yup...they used the hand signs and the classic or formal names you mention...at the time (and until only about 5 months ago) I thought they were just making it all up--sorta like the tech stuff they make up in Star Trek, etc.

10-08-2002, 03:29 PM
Well, proof of how much educational value a Steven Spielberg movie can have :D


11-26-2002, 05:17 PM
Dear Gunhart:
"Do, Re, Mi, Fa, etc." are in fact the name of the notes in italian, you can sing them with your notation system (C, D, E, F, G, A, B). All of the names of the notes end with a vocal with the exception of the note F, in wich case you must extend the sound of the vocal. There is no reason why you couldn't use the solfeggio in english.

11-26-2002, 05:55 PM
Hi Joel and welcome to iBreathe :D

Originally posted by Joel
There is no reason why you couldn't use the solfeggio in english. I'm not sure what you mean. Do I say this anywhere?


11-26-2002, 06:42 PM
Maybe he refers to the fact that below the pcitures, the words are "Do Re Mi...", while they, acoording to his post, could be "C-D-E" etc.

11-26-2002, 11:11 PM
Ah, I think I know what Joel means: that instead of Do we sing C, D instead of RE, etc...

This will work if we are talking about a fixed system. But the advantage of using solfege lies in its movable power, meaning that Do is the root of whatever scale we are in.

So when I use the term solfege I always refer to the movable Do system.


Bongo Boy
11-26-2002, 11:38 PM
Originally posted by Guni
if we are talking about a fixed system. But the advantage of using solfege lies in its movable power, meaning that Do is the root of whatever scale we are in.

...and, I believe that even in the fixed system, while DO is always the note C, the Italian name for the LETTER C is certainly not DO.

But, I don't think the names of the notes in Italian (or any language) are do, re, mi...etc. My understanding is that the solfege syllables do come from Latin, but from Latin phrases that were used in the Ancient Times to describe the qualities of the pitch. For example, MI, as I understand it, comes from mira, meaning miracle. Apparently the Ancients ascribed such romantic descriptors to individual notes.

So, what I'm saying is: note names and solfege syllables are directly related in the solfege fixe, but not the same thing. In the moveable, solfege mobile system, they're related based on interval and sequence only.

As far as solfege in English, tables that I have seen where English, Italian, and French syllables are listed indicate that they are ALL identical--except for the French use of UT versus DO, I think.

And finally, using letter names (in any languange) as substitutes for solfege syllables will be a problem when you get to accidentals--you'd have to make up SOME single syllable for "F#", for example. I mean, you'd just sound silly. :)

Am I wrong?

11-27-2002, 08:45 AM
Originally posted by Bongo Boy
Am I wrong?I aggree 100% with everything you say. Not using the common syllables would cause quite some problems and it's for sure harder to advance when making up your own system.


11-28-2002, 02:49 PM
Hello guys,

Do, Re, Mi, Fa, Sol, La, Si, are actually the names of the notes. In order to clear up your doubts I'll explain the history of the name of the notes:
Before Guido D`Arezzo musical notes were called by the letters of the alphabet. In 1027, he changed the alphabet letter system by the sylabical name method. He used the sylables UT, RE, MI, FA, SOL, LA (the note Si is newer). The sylables were taken from an exerp of the St. Jhon Baptist hymn:

UT queant laxis
REsonare fibris
MIra gestorum
FAmuli tuorum
SOLve polluti
LAbii reatum
Sancte Ioannes

With the S and J (for it works as an I in latin) from the last verse, Lemaire formed, in 1643, the sylable Si.
With this I hope you wont have any problems undestanding what I've meant. Best wishes.The note Ti is Si translated. This sistem is used in countries wich languages are based on a latin root (like Argentina, where I live). C, D, E, F, G, A, B is the same as Do, Re, Mi, Fa, Sol, La, Si.

Bongo Boy
11-28-2002, 07:29 PM
Very cool!! I searched everywhere for those latin phrases...couldn't find them anywhere. I confused NOTE names with LETTER names--bad assumption on my part.

02-16-2003, 11:11 AM
I just noticed that this little melody form 'Close Encounters of the Third Kind' also is used in James Bond 'Moonraker': the tune played on the keypad to open the laboratory. I guess it's a little 'homage'.

Quite funny :D


01-13-2005, 04:51 PM
I have located on the net the solfege hand signs for a major scale, but what are the gestures for the half-tones? Can anyone point me to a website that has good illustrations of di/ri/fi/si/li/ra/me/se/le/te/ra ?
Thanks in advance:confused:

01-28-2005, 10:17 AM
I found this reference for chromatic hand-signs.