ABC vs Do Re Mi – What Is The Difference Between Them? (2023)

Do Re Mi is a phrase well-known in music circles. I suspect it is better known by some from when Maria sings it in “The Sound of Music.” In the film, she describes Do-Re-Mi as being like a musical alphabet. That is, they start at the beginning of a sequence.

Do Re Mi is the opening three syllables representing the first pitches or notes of a scale. That is any scale. ABC, of course, starts the English alphabet. They are representative of the sound made by each letter both in speaking and listening.

So what is the difference when we consider ABC vs Do Re Mi? Let’s find out by delving a little deeper…

Contents

  • Who Uses What?
  • Doe a Deer, a Female Deer, And All That
    • Solfege
    • The ABC System
  • Let’s Complicate It a Little
    • The “Moveable Do”
    • The “Fixed Do”
  • Tactile Learning
    • Worth Knowing
  • ABC vs Do Re Mi
  • Do-Re-Mi (the Solfege system)
    • Better With the Vocal Aspects
    • Is There A Downside?
  • The ABC Notation System
    • Would It Benefit Singers Like the Do Re Mi Solfege system?
    • Is There A Downside?
  • So, Who Wins?
    • The Younger Student
    • As The Student gets Older
    • Another Change of Emphasis
  • Want to Learn More About Music?
  • ABC vs Do Re Mi – Final Thoughts

Who Uses What?

ABC vs Do Re Mi – What Is The Difference Between Them? (1)

That will depend to a certain extent on the country where you learn your music. Some countries will use the Do Re Mi system. Other countries will use ABC. OK, I hear you say, that is all well and good. But which is best? We will take a look and decide.

Doe a Deer, a Female Deer, And All That

The official musical name given to these notes is “solfege.” A new word for your vocabulary, perhaps. And maybe now you are wondering, “what does solfege mean?”

Solfege

Solfege, or as it is sometimes known, “Solmization,” has its basis in the seven notes of the Diatonic scale. They are A, B, C, D, E, F, and G. As we know, there aretwo types of the diatonic scale, major and minor.

The solfege notes come from the Diatonic major scale. Solfege is a French word from the Italian Solfeggio; as far as we know, it was first used around 1903. It is a system where the notes of a scale are given their own symbols.

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Every time you sing a particular note, you use that symbol assigned to it. As there are seven notes in the scale, there are seven syllables: do, re, mi, fa, sol, la, and ti. This is shown below using a scale of C major. The Solfege system is still used today in recognized music schools and colleges.

The ABC System

This is referred to as musical notation. In Western music, there are twelve pitches, as shown here:

A, A# or Bb, B, C, C# or Db, D# or Eb, E, F, F# or Gb, G, G# or Ab, and back to A.

Each of the 12 pitches is given a letter. This is based on the frequency of the pitch. You will find the ABC system used more in teaching programs related to instruments and performing.

Let’s Complicate It a Little

If there is one thing you learn very quickly in your music studies, it is this. Music Theory likes to make rules and then complicate them with alternatives. This is the rule, but there are exceptions.

Not every country that uses the Do-Re-Mi system teaches it the same way. Some have what is known as a “Moveable Do.” Others use the “Fixed Do” system. So, what is the difference?

The “Moveable Do”

Using this system involves assigning the ‘Do’ depending on what key you are in. For example, if you are in the key of C, then the ‘Do’ will be the pitch or note of ‘C.’ If you are in G, then the ‘Do’ will be the note of G, and so on.

Just to reiterate, the ‘Do’ will commence on the root note of the scale you are in. The other solfege syllables will follow in the standard order.

The “Fixed Do”

This is a system where the ‘Do’ does not change as the name implies. The pitch of the ‘Do’ is always the note or pitch of C, whichever key you are in. To demonstrate:

  • C = Do
  • D = Ray
  • E = Mi
  • F = Fah
  • G =Soh
  • A = La
  • B = Ti
  • C = Do

No one way of doing things is necessarily better than the other. It is often more a case of what you have been taught from a very young age. However, one system does play a more important role in the early stages.

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Tactile Learning

Also known as “Kinesthetic Learning,” it aims to get you to use more of your senses. It does this by giving each syllable a corresponding hand sign.

You will come across choirmasters and group vocal teachers who are experts at making these signs. When used efficiently, theyhelp students find the correct notes and pitchesquickly.

Worth Knowing

Whether you use this system or not, it is worth learning how it works. It will give you a wider comprehension of music as a whole. Also, it will help you appreciate what others are doing who may have been taught using this system. Anything that canimprove your musicianshipis always worth taking on board.

ABC vs Do Re Mi

ABC vs Do Re Mi – What Is The Difference Between Them? (2)

So let battle commence. Having looked briefly at both systems, and learned a little more about both ways of doing things, let’s compare them.

Do-Re-Mi (the Solfege system)

The realbenefit of using the Do Re Mi Solfege systemis how it develops your listening skills. Some people have perfect pitch, but the vast majority don’t. There are a lot of people who cannot pick up a piece of music and just sing it. The Do Re Mi Solfege system will improve those skills and help to improve your “sight-singing” notation.

Better With the Vocal Aspects

I have to say that is where it pays real dividends. Helping you know how the pitches, notes, relate to one another is important.

Is There A Downside?

When it comes to the technical aspects of playing your instrument, the ABC system probably has a bit more to offer.

The ABC Notation System

This is a system that pays its real dividends working with instruments. It will help you to understand where notes are, which will unlock the door to playing more complicated pieces. Therefore, it becomes an important tool for those playing instruments.

Would It Benefit Singers Like the Do Re Mi Solfege system?

The Do Re Mi system is more important to the singer, but this system has its benefits and shouldn’t be ignored. It will help them use the correct keys and the ranges within the pieces they sing.

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Is There A Downside?

If all you learn is the ABC system, then it can be limiting. Understanding and hearing the relationships between notes, or true pitch, is very important, and the ABC system doesn’t really achieve that.

It is also negative for the younger musician. They haven’t acquired the technical skills on their instruments to reap the benefits. And they won’t have the “ear-training,” understanding, and pitch appreciation that the Do Re Mi system will give them.

So, Who Wins?

ABC vs Do Re Mi – What Is The Difference Between Them? (3)

When talking about education, you should not consider a winner and a loser. I think there needs to be a consideration of where the student is in their development.

It is more an appreciation of where the student is in terms of their studies. The Do Re Mi system is not necessarily “better” than the ABC system and vice versa. But, it might be more applicable at certain stages of their development.

The Younger Student

The Do Re Mi Solfege system is the system that should be applied at this age. This might be the elementary students up to about age 11. And, I might add, this system is to be taught almost exclusively. It is vital to their development that they develop what music teachers refer to as “aural awareness.”

Some countries, like the US, rarely use the Do Re Mi system and focus on the ABC system. If that is how the music education system is structured, then the younger students are missing out on “aural awareness.”

As The Student gets Older

As instruments begin to play a more important role as the student gets older, then a slight shift of emphasis is required. ABC notation can be introduced slowly, beginning when the young player starts to progress on their instrument. The emphasis should still be on the Do Re Mi system with ABC used to supplement the knowledge.

Another Change of Emphasis

If the student has been playing for several years, then they will be familiar with their instrument. And they should have reached a reasonable standard. It is at this stage that there may be a change of emphasis.

For solo musicians requiring plenty of technical skills, then the ABC system will take over. Solfege may take a back seat at this stage, but it is not a good idea to drop it altogether.

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For those students still studying choral music, the emphasis will still be on the Do Re Mi system, but once again, with ABC to supplement the knowledge. Here are some helpful guides:

Want to Learn More About Music?

We can help. Take a look at our detailed articles onDiatonic Scales,A Complete Guide To Major Scales,Types Of Bebop Scales,A Guide To The Chromatic Scale,The Scale Degree Names Explained,What Is Negative Harmony, andWhat Is a Major Chordfor more useful musical information.

Also, check out our in-depth reviews of theBest Cheap Keyboard Piano, theBest Digital Grand Piano, theBest 88-Key Keyboards, theBest Tenor Saxophones, theBest Alto Saxophones, and theBest Fluteyou can buy in 2022.

ABC vs Do Re Mi – Final Thoughts

These, of course, are all just opinions. Others will view it differently. Both the Do-Re-Mi and the ABC system have their place, and both are important.

But the basis of it all is in the Do-Re-Mi system. Without the basic grounding and appreciation of how pitches relate to each other, your knowledge will not be complete.

Until next time, let your music play.

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FAQs

What is the difference between Do Re Mi and ABC? ›

ABC starts off the sequence of letters in the English alphabet, and they are a way of categorizing the sounds we hear and speak in the English language. Do, re, mi, are the first three syllables that represent the first three notes or “tones/pitches” of a scale.

Should I learn Do Re Mi or ABC? ›

Do re mi is a system of relative pitch, and is excellent for teaching children to sing and some basic concepts of music. a b c etc is a system of absolute pitch and is necessary for most other musical activities.

Do Re Mi Fa So La Ti Do vs Abcdefg? ›

Do-re-mi-fa-sol-la-ti are the notes of the major scale, while A-B-C-D-E-F-G is a natural minor scale. It just so happens that this is the case, by convention. I assume that the letter system was chosen this way so that A would be the first key on the piano.

What is the Do Re Mi system? ›

"Do-Re-Mi" is a show tune from the 1959 Rodgers and Hammerstein musical The Sound of Music. Each syllable of the musical solfège system appears in the song's lyrics, sung on the pitch it names. Rodgers was helped in its creation by long-time arranger Trude Rittmann who devised the extended vocal sequence in the song.

Do re mi notes ABC notes? ›

Do Re Mi review. ABC is what musicians call musical notation or ABC notation. These are the common letter names for specific note frequencies and where they fit on the staff. Do re mi are solfege notes which help train ears to better hear pitch relationships and intervals.

Why are notes named do re mi? ›

Solfege (do, re, mi, ...) is a numbering system which starts from the first note of the scale (do=1, re=2, ...). Solfege identifies the position of the note in the scale. Pitch names are a numbering system which starts from a particular sound (A440 or concert A=1, B=2, ...).

Why is it important to learn your ABCs? ›

They help to form the basis of our language and communication for a lifetime. Learning the alphabet as the foundation of our spoken language gives us the advantage of knowing how letters and words are pronounced, how to think in a language, and how to spell in that language.

Why is learning ABCs important? ›

The Importance Of Learning The Alphabet

Knowing the sounds associated with each letter in the alphabet helps children build a solid foundation for a variety of tasks — from reading activities to writing activities —and helps develop confident learners.

How can I learn ABCs fast? ›

5 Easy ways to teach the alphabet to preschoolers
  1. 1) Sing alphabet songs. ...
  2. 2) Play letter matching games. ...
  3. 3) Open a new 'alphabet box' each week. ...
  4. 3) Use interdisciplinary learning with each letter, to strengthen letter associations. ...
  5. 4) If you use flashcards to teach the alphabet, use logical ones.

Do, re, mi fa sol la ti do are Called______? ›

The name solfège is self-referential — sol and fa are two of the syllables found in that pattern: do-re-me-fa-sol-la-ti. labii reatum, Sancte Iohannes.

What are the 7 pitch names? ›

In one of the most common pitch-naming schemes, each pitch is referred to as one of the first 7 characters in the Latin / Roman / English / etc. alphabet - namely A, B, C, D, E, F and G. The pitch named "A" is the lowest frequency, and the pitch named "G" is the highest.

Do Re Mi Fa So La Ti Do explained? ›

“Do re mi fa so la ti do” are the tonic solfa names of the notes in a major scale. The pitch of the notes depends on whether you're using a fixed do or a movable do. Sometimes the 'so' is called 'sol'. Only in the case of the C Major scale, solfa note names correspond to the same pitch for every note.

Why do re mi is important? ›

Do Re Mi or 'Tonic Sol-fa' is a traditional and very effective way to teach the concept of intervals and the sound of each note of the scale. It helps build an understanding of how to pitch notes and know how they should sound.

What are ABC notes? ›

In basic form it uses the letter notation with a – g , A – G , and z , to represent the corresponding notes and rests, with other elements used to place added value on these – sharp, flat, raised or lowered octave, the note length, key, and ornamentation.

Is do always C? ›

In “Fixed Do”, “Do” is always “C”, no matter what key you are in. With “Movable Do”, “Do” is the tonic note. For example, in the key of “C Major”, “Do” is “C”, but in the key of “F Major”, “Do” is “F”. There are various syllables used throughout the world, such as “So” or “Sol”, and “Ti” or “Si”.

Do Re Mi Fa sol la Si Do English? ›

"Do, re, mi, fa, sol, la, si, do" are the names of the notes of the musical scale, corresponding to C, D, E, F, G, A, B, C. This song is used to remember the tune of the ascending and descending musical scales as to remember the name of the notes.

What is 2 notes at the same time called? ›

In music, a dyad (less commonly, diad) is a set of two notes or pitches that, in particular contexts, may imply a chord.

Why does do re mi start on C? ›

Short version: Do-Re-Mi begins on C because that's where Ut Queant Laxis begins, and perhaps the fact that Ut Queant Laxis begins on C also suggests that the major scale was already getting started way back in the first millennium.

Why do music notes start with C? ›

The answer is that that the most familiar melodies use the major scale: whole step, whole step, half step, whole step, whole step, whole step, half step. And that is the pattern of steps outlined by the white keys of the piano if you start on C. Naturally the C major scale is therefore the first one everyone learns.

What do the 3 ABCs stand for? ›

In an emergency situation, there are some important steps to remember when giving first aid. These are often referred to as the “ABCs of first aid.” According to updated guidelines, it's important to perform them in this order: Circulation/compressions. Airway. Breathing.

What age is normal to learn ABCs? ›

A: Most children learn to recognize letters between ages 3 and 4. Typically, children will recognize the letters in their name first. By age 5, most kindergarteners begin to make sound-letter associations, such as knowing that “book” starts with the letter B.

Which letters of the alphabet should be taught first? ›

Letters that occur frequently in simple words (e.g., a, m, t) are taught first. Letters that look similar and have similar sounds (b and d) are separated in the instructional sequence to avoid confusion. Short vowels are taught before long vowels.

WHAT ARE THE ABCs of teaching? ›

ABC stands for antecedent (A), behaviour (B) and consequence (C). It is an observation tool that teachers can use to analyse what happened before, during and after a behaviour1. All behaviour can be thought of as communication.

WHAT ARE THE ABCs in education? ›

The indicators are easy to remember—simply A-B-C, or attendance, behavior and course performance.

Why can't My 4 year old remember letters? ›

Young toddlers aren't developmentally ready for the abstract thinking required to understand that letters are symbols that represent sounds in our spoken language. It won't be until your child has developed some phonemic awareness that he or she will begin to understand that words are made up of speech sounds in a row.

What is the quickest alphabet? ›

The fastest time to type the alphabet (single hand) is 4.50 seconds, and was achieved by Brandon Luo (USA) in Apex, North Carolina, USA, on 2 January 2022.

What does so la mi fa sol mean? ›

noun. 1. the syllables do (formerly ut), re, mi, fa, sol (or so), la, ti (or si), do (or ut), used to represent the tones of a scale, regardless of its key. 2. the use of these syllables, as in vocal exercises; solfeggio.

Do Re Mi fa sol la Si Do VS do re mi fa sol la ti do? ›

In Romance languages (Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, etc.) notes are named with solfège syllables—DO, RE, MI, FA, SOL, LA, SI, DO. The solfège system used in many countries—including the United States—was revised in the 1800's so that all notes begin with a different letter. The 7th note Si was replaced with Ti.

Do re mi fa so la ti do scale in letters? ›

In the major Romance and Slavic languages, the syllables Do, Re, Mi, Fa, Sol, La, and Si are used to name notes the same way that the letters C, D, E, F, G, A, and B are used to name notes in English.

Is C higher than D? ›

In the major scale, there are eight notes going up the steps from bottom to top. These are the eight notes of the octave. On a C scale, the notes from low to high would be C, D, E, F, G, A, B, C.

What are the 12 pitches? ›

Western music typically uses 12 notes – C, D, E, F, G, A and B, plus five flats and equivalent sharps in between, which are: C sharp/D flat (they're the same note, just named differently depending on what key signature is being used), D sharp/E flat, F sharp/G flat, G sharp/A flat and A sharp/B flat.

What pitch is the hardest? ›

Each baseball player has their own specialties. However, the two pitches that stand out to be the hardest to hit are the splitter and the slider. This conclusion is backed by research that has been done to detect the whiff rate for various pitches.

Do Rae Me scale? ›

In the song “Do-Re-Mi,” J.J. sings the seven solfège syllables in a major scale: DO, RE, MI, FA, SOL, LA, and TI.

Do Re Mi fa So la ti are examples of this music concept? ›

A major or a minor scale (the most common scales in Western classical music) has seven notes, and so the solfege system has seven basic syllables: do, re, mi, fa, sol, la, and ti. In other octaves – for example, an octave above or below – the solfege syllables stay the same.

What is it called when one musician plays something and another answer? ›

A “phrase” of music serves as the “call,” and is “answered” by a different phrase of music. These phrases can be either vocal, instrumental, or both. Call-and-response has its roots in traditional African music, which largely employed a vocal version.

Why does do-re-mi start on C? ›

Short version: Do-Re-Mi begins on C because that's where Ut Queant Laxis begins, and perhaps the fact that Ut Queant Laxis begins on C also suggests that the major scale was already getting started way back in the first millennium.

Is Do-Re-Mi only in C major? ›

There are eight notes for each degree of the scale. Do is normally C, but if you are singing in a higher or lower key it depends on your starting note, so really Do is just the first note of the scale. For example D is Do for D major, F for F major and so on.

What are the 7 musical notes do-re-mi? ›

Solfège syllables are the names for each note in a musical scale. In the song “Do-Re-Mi,” J.J. sings the seven solfège syllables in a major scale: DO, RE, MI, FA, SOL, LA, and TI.

Do Americans use Do-Re-Mi? ›

In American-, and British-English, the solfège syllables are DO, RE, MI, FA, SO, LA, TI, DO. If you listen to the Rodgers and Hammerstein song DO-RE-MI from The Sound of Music, you will notice the lyric for the 7th note is Tea- a drink with jam and bread.

Why do is C instead of a? ›

Do is C because C is the base note. In a parallel quirk of history, the first drive on a Windows computer is usually C: rather than A:.

Why isn't middle C called a? ›

The middle of all keyboards

However, middle C is not called middle C because it is in the middle of the piano. Middle C is called middle C because it is in the middle of the grand staff, the combination of treble and bass clef that piano music is most commonly notated on!

Why is C the most important note in music? ›

The answer is that that the most familiar melodies use the major scale: whole step, whole step, half step, whole step, whole step, whole step, half step. And that is the pattern of steps outlined by the white keys of the piano if you start on C. Naturally the C major scale is therefore the first one everyone learns.

Why is C Major Easy? ›

C major is a popular key for beginners because the scale only uses white keys, it has no sharps or flats. This makes many facets of learning easier including memorizing notes, reading, learning chords and inversions, improvisation plus understanding theory, intervals, harmony and chord progressions.

Why is middle C called C4? ›

Why Is Middle C Also Known As C4? The C that lives on that shared ledger line, one line above the bass clef and one line below the treble clef, is known as C4 because it is one octave below C5 and one octave above C3. Each of these C's, and every other C, sounds like a C.

Do re mi fa So la Ti Do syllables? ›

A major or a minor scale (the most common scales in Western classical music) has seven notes, and so the solfege system has seven basic syllables: do, re, mi, fa, sol, la, and ti. In other octaves – for example, an octave above or below – the solfege syllables stay the same.

What are the 4 types of notes in music? ›

These are the words of the musical language. They tell us what note to play and for how long. Rests tell us how long to play nothing, or have silence in the music. We're going to learn four types of notes and rests; whole, half, quarter and eighth.

What does the 3 on top of notes mean? ›

A triplet is written by putting a “3” over the top of the notes to show that 3 notes should fit in where there would normally only be 2. So in this example the “3” over the top of the crotchets means that 3 crotchets adds up to 2 beats instead of 3.

What does a 7 next to a note mean? ›

It's called a septuplet. It means that there are 7 notes to be played in the time of 4.

Why is B sometimes called H? ›

There are a few possible reasons for this: the 'H' might stand for 'hart' (German for 'hard') or, it could have just been a mistake in early sheet music, owing to the fact that the B flat symbol (♭) looks a bit like a 'b', and the sharp symbol (♯) looks a bit like an 'H'.

Why is B note called H? ›

Because of a typo, essentially. Before key signatures and accidentals were a thing, musicians would differentiate between a “hard b” (what we now call b natural) and a “soft b” (what we now call b flat).

Do Americans say Z? ›

In America, there's only one way to pronounce the letter Z: zee, of course. However, head to England, Ireland, or pretty much any other English-speaking country, and you'll find that most natives refer to the same letter as zed.

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