Origin of "Do Re Mi"?

Did this pseudo-musical scale originate with the “Sound of Music”, or what?

I don’t think so, I learned it as a child in the 50s, which would have been before the movie, but probably after the stage show.

And here Wikipedia shows it’s much older: Solfège - Wikipedia

Not hardly.

Wow! I didn’t know it was a real thing in music, afterall!

From the OED

Added, about re

I had the same reaction when I realized that it was as old as it was when Julie Andrews sang it.

But I was in love with Julie Andrews since Mary Poppins.


A deer! A female deer!

Now I’m pissed, because while do, re, mi, fa, la and ti are all acceptable two letter words in Scrabble, di, ri, fi “for the sharps”, and te, le, se, ra “for the flats” are unacceptable. Have some consistency, Scrabble!! Freaking “solfege” probably isn’t even in the Scrabble dictionary! :smack:

This whole thing about the “doe, a deer” has been kicking around in music for centuries, and is known as sogetto cavato–“fished out subect,” and was done as themes for Renaissance masses with particular mastery by Josquin.

One of his two famous masses with this technique is Missa Lascia Farme–“leave me alone”–from the syllables la(scia)-sol(sha)==“lascia”; far-re(fa[r])-mi(me)==farme.

The other mass is in praise of his sometime employer: Missa Hercules Dux Ferrariae (where the the syllables take mostly the vowels of the prince’s name: Her - re
cu - ut
les - re
Dux - ut
Fer - re
ra - fa
ri - mi
ae - re

Finally, in another art, tucked into a peroration on music in Joyce’s Finnegans Wake, is the exact translation from Italian into sort-of-English, done like “doe, a dear”…, such as Do, in Italian, I give; Re… (In Italian, a king); etc. The result:
I give, a king, to me, she does, alone, up there, yes see.
Do re mi fa so la si do. Now you know how to speak some Italian. :slight_smile:

I prefer this version.

My kids’ music classes have solfege, so I’ve been learning a bit about it. I knew it was a scale that named the notes, but wow there’s a lot to it.

I will just add that in French, these words, not A, B, C, … are used to name the scales. Thus in a bilingual program (in Montreal) you will see a piece in C, also described in do.

It’s mentioned in passing in samclem’s cite, but the word gamut (as in “run the…”) comes from the combination of gamma (the lowest note in Guido d’Arrezzo’s scale) and ut, the original do. It originally referred to the entire musical scale.

A little bit of trivia: do re mi goes nto the naming of the Japanese anime series Ojamajo Doremi and its protagonist Doremi Harukaze, an 8-year-old apprentice witch.