Solmization [solfatio, solmifatio]
- Andrew Hughes
- and Edith Gerson-Kiwi
The use of syllables in association with pitches as a mnemonic device for indicating melodic intervals. Such syllables are, musically speaking, arbitrary in their selection, but are put into a conventionalized order (such as kung–shang–chiao–chueh–yü; ding–dong–dèng–dung–dang; ut–re–mi–fa–sol–la).
Many systems of this sort exist in the principal musical cultures of the world; they serve as aids in the oral transmission of music, and may be used either for direct teaching or as a means of memorizing what has been heard. A solmization system is not a notation: it is a method of aural rather than visual recognition (see Notation, §I, 2, and Tonic Sol-fa).
In the West, the practice of solmization was known in classical antiquity (see §II below), but that system was apparently not transmitted to the Latin Middle Ages. The earliest similar system to appear in medieval theory was that involving the noeagis type of formula, first used about the 9th century, which seems to indicate the precise psalm ...