Mudcat Café message #407813 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #31398   Message #407813
Posted By: GUEST,Uncle Jaque / Maine
28-Feb-01 - 03:26 AM
Thread Name: Help: 'Sol Fa' Music Notation
Subject: 'Sol Fa' Music Notation
At a recent Flea-Marketing expidition in Brunswick, I "scored" a few goodies, including a blue hardbound volume of :

"LYRIC GEMS OF SCOTLAND With Music" 4/6 So Fa Edition First and Second Series John CAMERON London; John Blockley (No date, but inscribed on frontspiece: 12th Dec. 1912)

All of the scores are written in the "SolFa" notation.

Have you ever seen anything like this, or are you familiar with it? It almost seems to be a predecessor to the "ABC" format currently popular as a medium to communicate music notation over the internet using common text fonts.

Some Folk - Musician friends have a nearly identical text and have, to some extent, figured it out.

The following is a slightly edited copy of thier advice:

Old Scots "Sol Fa" Music Notation

d = do; r = re; m = mi; f = fa; s = sol; l = la; t = ti.

d' = do (up an octave) r' = re (up one octave) etc.

If the accent is subscript (f| )then it is DOWN an octave.

"I have never encountered accidentals. What they do instead is change key, which moves "do" and therefore the halfsteps in the scale are in different places."

Vertical lines that go into the lyric are regular bar lines.

Vertical lines in the solfa line represent beats.

Horizontal lines under the solfa text represent tied notes.

Dashes represent held notes. [Equivilent to a "dotted" note?]


: = one beat . = 1/2 beat , = 1/4 beat

[How do they do 1/3 or 1/6 beat in "Waltz" time?] [Time Signatures, per se, seem to be dispensed with entirely]

"The best way to figure it out is to find a song you know, like Auld Lang Syne, and try to decode that. After two or three that you know you get into the mode of thinking and it gets a little easier. Once you get going you should do a bunch because it always seems to take a while to get back into it if you don't do it for a while. Alternatively find someone who trained as an opera singer in college."

From: "Fred" @ CASTLEBAY 02/26/2001


If anyone can expand on this system or direct me to a useful resource for understanding the SolFa system, I would appreciate it.

A search of the "Mudcat" Forum Database reveals several mentions of it and even a short example, but nothing beyond what we already have.

I have scanned in a few representative tunes to demonstrate what this notation looks like, and if there is an obscure Scottish piece you might be looking for, it might be in there; let me know and I will hunt for it. There seems to be quite a bit of BURNS included.

Thanks: "Uncle Jaque" Clarke