Page:A Dictionary of Music and Musicians vol 3.djvu/558

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646 SOL-FA.

Util di Guido regola superna 3f/suratrice/acile de' suoni SoZenne or tu iaude a te stessa intuoni,

b'Hlaba eterua.

The roll or stick with which the conductors of church choirs in Italy beat the time is called the Sdlfa. [G-]

SOLFEGGIO, E GORGHEGGIO. Solfeggio is a musical exercise for the voice upon the syl- lables Ut (or Do), Re, Mi, Fa, Sol, La, forming the Guidonian Hexachord, to which was added later the syllable Si upon the seventh or leading- note, the whole corresponding to the notes C, D, E, F, G, A, B of the modern Diatonic scale. These names may be considered the result of an accident ingeniously turned to account, the first six being the first syllables of half lines in the first verse of a hymn for the festival of St. John Baptist, occurring upon the successive notes of the rising scale, with a seventh syllable perhaps formed of the initial letters of Sancte Johannes. [See SOLMISATION.]

The first use of these syllables is ascribed to Guido d'Arezzo as an artificial aid to pupils ' of slow comprehension in learning to read music,' and not as possessing any special virtue in the matter of voice-cultivation; but it is by no means clear that he was the first to use them. At any rate they came into use somewhere about his time. It is probable that even in Guide's day (if voice -cultivation was carried to any grade of perfection which is hardly likely in an age when nearly all the music was choral, and the capacities of the voice for individual expres- sion were scarcely recognised), as soon as the notes had been learned, the use of syllables was, as it has been later, superseded by vocalisation, or singing upon a vowel. The syllables may be considered, therefore, only in their capacity as names of notes. Dr. Crotch, in his treatise on Harmony, uses them for this purpose in the major key, on the basis 'of the movable Do, underlining them thus, Do, etc., for the notes of the relative minor scales, and gives them as alternative with the theoretical names Tonic, or Do ; Mediant, or Mi ; Dominant, or Sol, etc. The continued use of the syllables, if the Do were fixed, would accustom the student to a certain vowel on a certain note only, and would not tend to facilitate pronunciation throughout the scale. If the Do were movable, though different vowels would be used on different parts of the voice, there would still be the mechanical succession through the transposed scale ; and true reading which Hullah aptly calls 'seeing with the ear and hearing with the eye,' that is to say, the mental identification of a certain sound with a certain sign would not be taught thereby. Those who possess a natural musical disposition do not require the help of the syllables ; and as pronun- ciation would not be effectually taught by them, especially after one of the most difficult and un- satisfactory vowels had been removed, by the change of Ut to Do, and as they do not contain all the consonants, and as moreover voice- cultivation is much more readily carried out by


perfecting Vowels before using consonants at all, it was but natural that vocalisation should have been adopted as the best means of re- moving inequalities in the voice and difficulties in its management. Crescentini, one of the last male soprani, and a singing-master of great celebrity, says, in the preface to his vocal ex- ercises, ' Gli esercizj sono stati da me imaginati per 1'uso del vocalizzo, cosa la piu necessaria per perfezionarsi nel canto dopo lo studio fatto de' solfeggi, o sia, nomenclature delle note ' ' I have intended these exercises for vocalisation, which is the most necessary exercise for attaining per- fection in singing, after going through the study of the sol-fa, or nomenclature of the notes.' Some- times a kind of compromise has been adopted in exercises of agility, that syllable being used which comes upon the principal or accented note of a group or division, e. g.


��The word ' Solfeggio ' is a good deal misused, and confounded with ' Vocalizzo ' in spite of the etymology of the two words. The preface to the 4th edition of the 'Solfeges dTtalie' says 'La plupart des Solfeges nouveaux Exigent qu'ils soient Solftes sans nommer les notes? Here is an absurd contradiction, and a confusion of the two distinct operations of Solfeggiare and Vocalizzare. We have no precise equivalent in English for Solfeggio and Solfeggiare. The French have Solfe'ge and Solfier. We say, to Sol-fa, and Sol-faing a clumsy and ineuphonious verb- substantive. As a question of voice-production, the wisdom of vocalisation, chiefly upon the vowel a, (Italian), and certainly before other vowels are practised, and most decidedly before using consonants, has been abundantly proved. The use of the words in question is not therefore a matter of much importance. This appears to be in direct opposition to the advice of a very fine singer and an eminent master, Pier Francesco Tosi, whose book upon singing was published at Bologna in 1723, the English translation byGal- liard appearing in 1 742. He says, ' Let the master never be tired in making the scholar sol-fa as long as he finds it necessary ; for if he should let him sing upon the vowels too soon, he knows not how to instruct.' 'As long as he finds it necessary,' however, is a considerable qualifica- tion. The world lives and learns, and Crescen- tini's verdict may safely be accepted. ^ The vowel a, rightly pronounced, gives a position of the resonance-chambers most free from impediment, in which the entire volume of air vibrates without after-neutralisation, and consequently communi- cates its vibrations in their integrity to the outer air; this therefore is the best preparation, the best starting-point for the formation of other

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