tonic sol-fa. Eng. system of sight-singing and notation first mooted by D. Sower in 1832, developed by Sarah Ann Glover (1785–1867) as Norwich Sol-fa, and pioneered by John Curwen (1816–80) in the 1840s. Based on movable-doh system of solmization. Notes of major scale are named (in ascending order) doh, ray, me, fah, soh, lah, te, where doh is the tonic, other notes being thus related to tonic of the moment, not fixed in pitch. Minor is treated as mode of the major, first note being lah, 2nd te, 3rd doh, etc. In notation notes are written as d, r, m, f, s, l, t. Sharps and flats are indicated by change of vowel, sharps to ‘e’, flats to ‘a’ (pronounced ‘aw’). E.g. doh sharpened is de; me flattened is ma. Double dots (:) separate beat from beat; single dots are used when a beat has to be divided into a half-beat, commas to divide half-beats into quarters. Horizontal lines show that notes are held; blanks indicate rests.
ton·ic sol-fa / ˌsōl ˈfä/ • n. a system of naming the notes of the scale (usually do, re, mi, fa, sol, la, ti) developed in England and used esp. to teach singing, with do as the keynote of all major keys and la as the keynote of all minor keys. See solmization.
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