Solfeggio

An aspiring singer on a TV talent show decided to perform Doh a deer, and rashly decided to go out, so to speak, on a high note:

do

Which reminds me—the traditional gongche notation for the melodic skeleton of ritual shengguan translates nicely into solfeggio (and indeed modern Chinese cipher notation)…

25-lq-zouma

Da Zouma score, written for me by Li Qing, 1992

“But that’s not important right now”. I allude, of course, to Airplane:

The Chinese gongche system, like those of Europe and India, is heptatonic:

he   si    yi  shang  che  gong  fan

1     2     3       4         5       6       7

do  re   mi     fa        so     la      si,

with liu and wu as upper octave notes for he/do and si/re respectively.

For those who can’t fathom the British propensity for punning, the only line of Doh a Deer that makes any sense is La, a note to follow so—precisely the only line where the author reveals a touching fallibility. Such literal audiences would be happier if it were all like that:

Re, a note to follow do
Mi, a note to follow re
Fa, a note to follow mi
and so on… It only remains to overhaul the opening line. The original version “La, a note to follow so—if you’re moving upwards in conjunct motion that is” was overruled as too pedantic, of course.

Given how well we know the song, it seems a bit weird how crap we Brits are at solfeggio. Another fun game would be to try singing the whole thing only in solfeggio:

Do, re mi, do mi do mi,
Re, mi fafa mire fa

and so on.

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