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Basics of Solfege and Sight-Singing

Finding “do” – the beginnings of Sight-Singing

When learning how to sight-sing, one of the first skills you need to master is the ability to
find “DO” (as in DO, RE, MI, FA, SOL, LA, TI, DO) no matter what the key signature. DO is the
solfege syllable used to designate the first note of a major scale. DO is the name of the key
that you are singing in, so when you find DO, you also name the key. In other words, if DO is
the note C, then you are in the key of C (singing in the scale of C Major). The notes would be
C, D, E, F, G, A, B, C.

What is a key signature???

The first question you might have is “What is a key signature?” In music, a key signature is a
collection of sharps and/or flats located between the clef and the time signature on the five
line staff. The key signature tells us which notes will be in our song.

Sharps look like hashtags or pound signs (#) on your phone. Sharps are shown here.
Flats look like a lower case “b”.

Finding DO in Sharp Keys

When the key signature is made up of sharps, you can find DO by locating the last sharp
farthest to the right. From that sharp, go up to the next line or space – that next line or
space will be the name of DO as well as the key. You could also call the last sharp TI and go
up a half step to find DO. (turn page for illustration!)
In the illustration above, the sharp farthest to the right is in the C space (so it is a C#). The
line directly above that space is D, so D is DO and we are in the key of D. This works even if
there is only one sharp – that sharp is still the farthest to the right.

Finding DO in Flat Keys

When the key signature is made up of flats, we use a different approach. You still locate DO
by locating the flat farthest to the right. Then, you go back one flat to the left to find the
name of the key. The illustration below shows how this works – the flat farthest to the right
is a Db, the one immediately to its left is Ab, so we are in the key of Ab. Another way to
think of this is to look for the second to last flat to find the name of the key.

Wait! What if there is only one flat?

Obviously this method would not work. If there is only one flat in the key signature, the key
is F. This is something you should memorize. *You could also think of the flat farthest to the
right as the syllable FA. If you think this way, then you can always just count down from
that flat to find DO.

What if there are no sharps or flats where the key signature should be?

If there are no sharps or flats, you are in the key of C, and C is DO.

http://www.doctorlizmusic.com/mctcchoirs/?page_id=938