Spoken solfeggio: an insignificant study


I was just over eight years old when I began my musical studies. No family predisposition, no talent that could have inspired me to approach the art of music. Yet that spark ignited in me that determined the beginning of a great adventure.

I remember as if it were today the joy I felt when I opened my first music book, I was particularly struck by the first sentence: MUSIC IS THE ART OF SOUND. My eyes sparkled as I immediately thought of the great journey: the world of the seven notes awaited me, the world that I longed for, full of sounds, chords, satisfaction and that would finally allow me to play an instrument.

Unfortunately, this was not the case! From the very first lessons I read arid exercises that had nothing to do with sound reality. It is clear that only today can I realise how much time I wasted studying that so-called spoken solfeggio.

But what does 'spoken' mean if you read symbols that express a sound? Why do many teachers still not realise that spoken solfege dis-educates the ear? When I hear that a pupil is good at music because he or she solves well, I get the shivers; is reading a difficult rhythm, a whirling exercise really the test for discovering a musical talent?

How many children have turned away from music because they were considered to be neglected, out of tune? So many. Therefore, it would be good not to overlook the opportunity to provide pre-school children with an adequate basic music education by teaching them vocal reading based on the study of intervals. By doing so, precious years will not be lost, precisely those in which the psycho-intellectual capacities of the individual are most receptive.

I would also like to point out that music theory cannot be taught with boring readings that are divorced from any logical reference. Note this example:

According to the rules of spoken solfeggio, the altered sound must be read by pronouncing the syllable F as if the sharp did not exist. In short, I read a different sound from the written one. I let you imagine what kind of musical ear will come out of a student who follows these absurd theories. As if in verbal language we can afford to read one syllable instead of the other. In musically more advanced countries than ours, spoken solfeggio has never been known or practised, resorting instead to rhythmic reading.

The interpretation of a symbol with its true meaning (the sound), highlights the expressive content of a melodic line based on singing. Only the practice of sung solfeggio can bring Guido D'Arezzo's methodology based on the syllables of the diatonic scale and intervals back to life. Those who are about to study a wind or string instrument must, first of all, exercise their ear through the study of intervals, know how to intone them, and transport them in different tonalities. If this daily practice is lacking, either through negligence, or because one is convinced that it is time wasted, that instrument will never be accurate in intonation.

According to musicologist Edgar Willems, bad musicians do not hear what they play; mediocre musicians might hear but do not listen; only good musicians hear what they are about to play.


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