System of designating musical notes by syllable names. It may have been invented by the 11th-century Italian monk Guido d'Arezzo when training his cathedral singers. The syllables—ut, re, mi, fa, sol, la—were derived from the first syllables of the lines of a hymn, each phrase of which began one note higher than the previous phrase. This six-note series, or hexachord, facilitated the sight-reading of music by allowing the singer always to associate a given musical interval with any two syllables. The syllables are still in use, though ut is usually replaced by the more singable do, and ti or si has been added for the seventh scale degree. Compare shape-note singing.
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In Europe and North America, solfège is the convention used most often. The seven syllables normally used for this practice in English-speaking countries are: do, re, mi, fa, sol, la, and ti (with a chromatic scale of ascending di, ri, fi, si, li and descending te, le, se, me, ra). The syllables are derived from The Hymn of St. John written by Paulus Diaconus in the 8th century.
In India, the origin of solmization was to be found in Vedic texts like the Upanishads, which discuss a musical system of seven notes, realized ultimately in what is known as sargam. In Indian classical music, the notes in order are: sa, re, ga, ma, pa, dha, and ni.
Byzantine music also uses syllables derived from a hymn to name notes: starting with A, the notes are pa, vu', ga, di, ke, zo, ni.
Other systems invented for teaching sight-singing are: