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  1. #1

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    Hey guys, 1st post- love this forum been lurking for months now.

    I'm curious how you guys apply move-able Do to jazz. I've been teaching myself solfege for a few months and training my ears with functional ear trainer and my ear is definitely improving!

    I see move-able do recommended all the time here, but I'm a little confused on how I'd use it for figuring out heads and licks...

    Do I start with do for each first note? Do I change what do is for each chord change or do I keep it the same across all the chords if they're all in the same key? I don't want to develop any bad habits with this and have to go back and change my approach. My theory is decent enough I think to get by with what I want to accomplish but I need my aural skills to pick up.

    How do you guys do it?

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  3. #2

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    Movable Do means movable across different keys; Do is assigned to the major key note tonic... so Do is the key note and the tonic for the major scale and the root of the major one chord (I) of any and all major keys.

    For minor keys there are two versions of movable Do, depending whether one sets the tonic or the sixth of the major scale to be the Do of the relative minor scale, the difference being what happens to the note name of Do when you modulate from major to parallel minor (stays the same note name) vs major to relative minor (changes the note name).

    The thing is that movable DO is key based, but I suspect those that use it for jazz are likely shifting it for each progression chord change (reassigning Do to each chords' roots) when playing chords in order to make solfège locally correspond to the chord tones' intervals consistently across the various chords; yet, I suspect when soloing they may more likely switch to solfège assigning Do to the key, reassigning for actual modulations, and reassigning for temporary "local" modulations, in order to hear the melody line's solfège concordance with the harmony. I don't know what they might be doing for minor keys, or if adjusting for minor chords in major keys, or modulations or local modulations to minor keys or chords.

    I don't use any type of solfège myself.
    "Bent my ear to hear the tune and closed my eyes to see."

  4. #3

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    Hey Eric, huge fan!!!


    You use moveable Do “by the key”. One tricky bit however can be tunes where the keys change in the chords, but the melody stays diatonic to the original key.

    say for example you are doing something like lady bird, even though it switches to Ab for a second, I would still sing the whole melody in C.


    fwiw, I studied it for a long time in music school and basically still use it daily. Whatever you do, it’s simply a means to an end. That is to give each note a specific label so you can understand the notes in context. Hope that helps.

  5. #4

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    Absolute vs Relative orientation. In a fixed Do orientation, Do tells you where the tonic exists and throughout a large part of the time, Do is fixed as a place where the tonality of the piece from which the key and parent scale derives.
    In movable DO, the priority changes to accentuate, articulate and recognize the character and role of individual micro-harmonies (changes or tonal areas) within the piece. This is very useful for jazz especially because as a player, or creative improvisor, you create phrases within the confines of chord structures or chord groupings and the solo becomes meaningful when the gravity of each movable DO is the framework of phrasing.
    You can take a piece like Out Of Nowhere and in fixed Do, the notes all have an obedience to G, the key center of the piece. That's a lot of chromatic solfege, and it doesn't really serve to outline the character of the harmonic landscape of the piece, it's merely a way of giving each note a place relative to the presiding key.
    With a movable DO, you'd treat the shift in harmonic gravity in the 3rd measure as a new centre, with possibly the Bb being a basis of a phrase that employs a Bb minor scale. By moving the DO out of G and to an orientation inclusive of the shifting harmony, it allows you to not only acknowledge a dynamic landscape of harmony, but to treat each change as an infinite number of phrases with a new momentary DO.
    To address your question of whether you start on DO, not necessarily. That certainly would be a strong note, but if you hear that DO, and you know the surrounding scale and all it implies, then no, the other notes of the scale are there to be used as with any melodic phrase. That's where your ear training is essential.
    Relative DO lets you see an entire piece as being made up of smaller unique areas to work with, each one unique but related. It's one of the reasons movable DO is such a powerful tool for jazz improvisation: It outlines parameters by which changes can be explored deeply.

    Or that's the way I see it anyway.
    David

  6. #5

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    Quote Originally Posted by Eric Dolphy View Post
    Hey guys, 1st post- love this forum been lurking for months now.

    I'm curious how you guys apply move-able Do to jazz. I've been teaching myself solfege for a few months and training my ears with functional ear trainer and my ear is definitely improving!

    I see move-able do recommended all the time here, but I'm a little confused on how I'd use it for figuring out heads and licks...

    Do I start with do for each first note? Do I change what do is for each chord change or do I keep it the same across all the chords if they're all in the same key? I don't want to develop any bad habits with this and have to go back and change my approach. My theory is decent enough I think to get by with what I want to accomplish but I need my aural skills to pick up.

    How do you guys do it?
    Love your handle, by the way.

    Do you want the short answer or the long answer?

    I've been using movable do as the center of all my Contextual Ear Training studies for over a decade. You can definitely apply it do jazz, I use it everyday for that reason.

    So, I can give you the short answer (which, many might misconstrue) or I can give you the long answer (which would be a whole essay on the topic of movable do--at least)

    This isn't to say I'm bragging about my understanding of movable do. Rather, I see it as another opportunity to show how deep ear training can go--it goes well beyond "interval training". And a huge chunk of it is centered on movable do.

    You'll knew I'd respond to this thread, right?

  7. #6

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    Short answer: you use it to sing EVERYTHING in the home key of the tune. Melody, chord tones, guide tones.

    That goes for a blues, Autumn Leaves, and Coltrane--everything is sung in one key.

    You use chromatic solfege to account for anything that occurs "outside of the key"

    Actually, anything that is "outside" of the key isn't really outside

    It is there to create movement, and interest--in the home key.

    That's the short answer. Let me know if you want the long answer--where I tell you how it looks from the granula to big picture (the home key)

  8. #7
    Thank you all, I'm pretty sure that clears up what I've asked. I have more things I'd like info on now.

    I'll quote replies because they generated the thought in my head but I desire answers from all perspectives so I encourage all who wish to answer to do so.

  9. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by pauln View Post
    I don't use any type of solfège myself.
    While I'm using solfege during ear training practice and singing practice, I've also given just "playing by ear" a try from seeing your posts. It's the only way I can actually play and enjoy my improvisations. I totally throw all theory out and somehow even my technique is different. I continually surprise myself with what I'm able to on the fly transcribe and the way I can sometimes transcibe licks and re-phrase to what I hear in my head. When I'm in the zone there are times when I actually enjoy my own playing (a monumental step in my musical journey). A lot of this was actually inspired by some of your posts so I truly thank you.

    At the same time that my ability to play rapidly increased I'd been using functional ear trainer for a few weeks and have been improving with that and a few other sources of practice. But the way I play by ear now seems like a different skill set, I'm never consciously thinking solfege syllables or relations to keys doing this. And I have rarely ear trained around instruments (do it commuting a lot. Anyone have experience with this?

    I do not actually use solfege when playing by ear but I'd like to use it to transcribe mentally when I'm without my guitar and write out things I like in it in somehow (I don't use staff and i can barely read it- have but a few months of practice with it and ditched it years ago).

  10. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by Irez87 View Post
    Short answer: you use it to sing EVERYTHING in the home key of the tune. Melody, chord tones, guide tones.

    That goes for a blues, Autumn Leaves, and Coltrane--everything is sung in one key.

    You use chromatic solfege to account for anything that occurs "outside of the key"

    Actually, anything that is "outside" of the key isn't really outside

    It is there to create movement, and interest--in the home key.

    That's the short answer. Let me know if you want the long answer--where I tell you how it looks from the granula to big picture (the home key)
    Of course I want the long answer! Thanks for input thus far.

    I'm working on learning the Donna Lee head and soloing on backing tracks now. How would I benefit from putting the main melody in solfege? Do people do this? Should I?

  11. #10

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    next week. Maybe I'll ask Bruce Arnold if I can use some of his materials in a podcast like response?

    At least I'll post a written explanation, but you really have to hear it to fully get it (explanation wise).

    Welcome to the world of solfege in jazz, it's a wide world out there.

    I'll leave with this:





    Some laymen would call this a parlor trick--shame, shame.

    I call it accessing the music away from your instrument--so when you come back to your axe--you play your instrument and your instrument doesn't play you

    Alexa is a KIILLLING sax player, by the way!

  12. #11
    Big fan of her videos I can't believe they're not more popular!

  13. #12
    Quote Originally Posted by Eric Dolphy View Post
    I'm working on learning the Donna Lee head and soloing on backing tracks now. How would I benefit from putting the main melody in solfege? Do people do this? Should I?
    Maybe. Have you done the same with easier tunes already?

    I did it with Stella a while back. One of its greatest benefits is that it adds greatly to your ability to practice away from the instrument.

    Solfege is analogous to learning to read, learning note names or learning Roman numeral analysis etc. It gives pitch (relative to key) a place and a label. So you can more quickly make associations with 100's of other songs you already know.

    You know 100's of melodies by ear but without this name association. If you simply learn the place-sound association and a name for it, you have a context for being able to catalogue certain sounds, prehear certain sounds etc. Previous knowledge can be accessed while you're waiting between appointments etc...

    The benefits are more easily understood by doing honestly. Right out the syllables over the head of a very simple tune you already know, and memorize it. What do you learn?

  14. #13

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    Quote Originally Posted by Irez87 View Post
    Short answer: you use it to sing EVERYTHING in the home key of the tune. Melody, chord tones, guide tones.

    That goes for a blues, Autumn Leaves, and Coltrane--everything is sung in one key.

    You use chromatic solfege to account for anything that occurs "outside of the key"

    Actually, anything that is "outside" of the key isn't really outside

    It is there to create movement, and interest--in the home key.

    That's the short answer. Let me know if you want the long answer--where I tell you how it looks from the granula to big picture (the home key)
    why is it called "movable" Do if the Do doesn't move ?
    confused ....

  15. #14

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    with movable do, you choose a note to set as the root of the key. People with relative pitch use this.

    Fixed do--do is always the same note for you--no matter what. People with perfect pitch use this.

    At least, that's how I understood it.

  16. #15

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    Well Eric, you asked for it:


  17. #16
    Quote Originally Posted by pingu View Post
    why is it called "movable" Do if the Do doesn't move ?
    confused ....
    Fixed Do is analogous to letter names/absolute pitch. C or Bb are the same regardless of key, and with fixed Do, Do is always C... D is Re etc.

    Moveable Do is analogous to scale degree numbers or Roman numerals. C may be the IV of one key and the V of another, just as it may be Fa in one and Sol in another, therefore MOVABLE.

  18. #17

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    show of hands, who hated my video response?

    MWAHAHAHAHA

    Can you all believe I was in select chorus in high school--what was my chorus director thinking?!?

    At least you all can get more of my humor.

    I'll post more if anyone is interested--but... I'll wait till this cold passes... and I'll write an outline so I don't meander as much

  19. #18
    Quote Originally Posted by Irez87 View Post
    Well Eric, you asked for it:

    This is an awesome walk through, thank you!

    Singing is no worse than mine! I will have to look up the tune though.

  20. #19

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    Jazz, Pop, Rock, Classical - Doesn't matter - Even with jazz - the sound of the moveable do and its tones of the key is prevalent. The only time it varies is when there's chromatic solfege (b2 b3 #4 b6 b7) and some jazz pieces use the blues scale. You also have to adjust the moveable do when there's a key change (modulation, mixed modes).

    My take with moveable do is simple. In a key, there are only 12 tones to deal with. 5 of them are rarely used. 7 of them are commonly used and 5 of them are mostly used. The key to fully grasp the 12 tones is to internalize them and gather a vocabulary of patterns until these 12 tones would just pop out of in the music that you listen to. You can do this by customizing your own exercises to hear the 12 tones melodically or harmonically in different combinations. You can start with the simplest 2 note patterns and gradually build your way up to 10 or even 30. The possibilities are endless. You can also use real music and sing the solfege of the melody. Even if you don't master the solfege. Just keep plugging at it till you can sing a jazz lick or melody of a tune with solfege and with ease, till its reinforced in your memory.

    Don't just rely on functional ear trainer alone. You have to spend your time gathering at least a new melodic or harmonic pattern every single day to build an arsenal and array of combinations. You will realize that some of the patterns that you will learn will re-occur again with other songs. Believe me, I started doing this stuff around March 2019 and now I can recognize 20-30% of a melody played on the radio or TV.

  21. #20

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    Here's the version I was referring to:


  22. #21
    Quote Originally Posted by Jason Sioco View Post
    You can also use real music and sing the solfege of the melody. Even if you don't master the solfege. Just keep plugging at it till you can sing a jazz lick or melody of a tune with solfege and with ease, till its reinforced in your memory.
    I can sing along (and ahead) with tons of Coltrane solos but the problem is I don't know what syllables to sing. I'm now realizing that that's because I don't understand how these notes relate to their keys or even what notes they are. I guess in a way I'm over thinking this and just need to use solfege in all of analysis going forward. And sing everything.

  23. #22

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    Speaking of Coltrane Coaltrain COLLLTRANE!

    I did a post a while back about singing Giant Steps and relating everything back to the home key: B major.

    Once my cold completely clears--I'll try it again. My ears are definitely more trained than they were when I first recorded that post.

    I sing and hear contextually. You have to figure out what works best for you--and I stress--it HAS to relate to how you hear. So if you hear harmony vertically, than use solfege vertically (like hearing a minor 9th chord as do meh so tay re). I heard horizontally as much as possible. If I heard that minor 9th as part of a ii7 V7 I I--I would hear the minor 9th as re fa la do mi.

    If you're interested in the world of Contextual Ear Training and Charlie Banacos, I started a Performance Ear Training Journal...5 (?) years ago on the Jazz Guitar Forum--it's under the ear training section. I love his approach, I'll study it till I croak, and I still stay in touch with the teacher who taught it to me 13 (?) years ago--Bruce Arnold.

    That said, you have to find a way to label pitches that works for you. Once you can label everything that you hear clearly and consistently--the sky is the limit. For me, that's a lifetime of work--but I love it just the same.

  24. #23

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    Quote Originally Posted by Eric Dolphy View Post
    I can sing along (and ahead) with tons of Coltrane solos but the problem is I don't know what syllables to sing. I'm now realizing that that's because I don't understand how these notes relate to their keys or even what notes they are. I guess in a way I'm over thinking this and just need to use solfege in all of analysis going forward. And sing everything.
    Here's a handy reference for Move-able Do:

    1 - Do
    2 - Re
    3 - Mi
    4 - Fa
    5 - So
    6 - La
    7 - Ti
    b2 - Di or Ra
    b3 - Ri or Me
    #4 - Fi or Se
    b6 - Si or Le
    b7 - Li or Te

    This works for all 12 keys. Hope that helps.

  25. #24

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    Quote Originally Posted by matt.guitarteacher View Post
    Fixed Do is analogous to letter names/absolute pitch. C or Bb are the same regardless of key, and with fixed Do, Do is always C... D is Re etc.

    Moveable Do is analogous to scale degree numbers or Roman numerals. C may be the IV of one key and the V of another, just as it may be Fa in one and Sol in another, therefore MOVABLE.
    got it !
    thanks all

  26. #25
    Quote Originally Posted by Irez87 View Post
    Speaking of Coltrane Coaltrain COLLLTRANE!

    I did a post a while back about singing Giant Steps and relating everything back to the home key: B major.

    Once my cold completely clears--I'll try it again. My ears are definitely more trained than they were when I first recorded that post.

    I sing and hear contextually. You have to figure out what works best for you--and I stress--it HAS to relate to how you hear. So if you hear harmony vertically, than use solfege vertically (like hearing a minor 9th chord as do meh so tay re). I heard horizontally as much as possible. If I heard that minor 9th as part of a ii7 V7 I I--I would hear the minor 9th as re fa la do mi.

    If you're interested in the world of Contextual Ear Training and Charlie Banacos, I started a Performance Ear Training Journal...5 (?) years ago on the Jazz Guitar Forum--it's under the ear training section. I love his approach, I'll study it till I croak, and I still stay in touch with the teacher who taught it to me 13 (?) years ago--Bruce Arnold.

    That said, you have to find a way to label pitches that works for you. Once you can label everything that you hear clearly and consistently--the sky is the limit. For me, that's a lifetime of work--but I love it just the same.
    NOWWW it’s starting to come together! The example of “vertically vs horizontally” was excellent. It’s a relief to hear from someone that there are different ways to skin this cat movable do cat. I really wish to reap the solfege benefits that others tout. Going to be an endless pursuit but those are more fun anyway.

    I will start checking out that old post and reading through some of journal when I get a chance. Been a very busy week with not much music time unfortunately.

  27. #26
    Quote Originally Posted by Jason Sioco View Post
    Here's a handy reference for Move-able Do:

    1 - Do
    2 - Re
    3 - Mi
    4 - Fa
    5 - So
    6 - La
    7 - Ti
    b2 - Di or Ra
    b3 - Ri or Me
    #4 - Fi or Se
    b6 - Si or Le
    b7 - Li or Te

    This works for all 12 keys. Hope that helps.
    I understand this part, my problem is connecting the syllables with the tone I can produce with my voice. Does this make sense?

    For example: I can sing the first couple bars of a Charlie Parker solo on Nows the Time but I use “da” for every note just making them higher or lower. I would have no idea how to do it like those videos of Alexa doing Parker tunes.

  28. #27
    Quote Originally Posted by Eric Dolphy View Post
    I understand this part, my problem is connecting the syllables with the tone I can produce with my voice. Does this make sense?

    For example: I can sing the first couple bars of a Charlie Parker solo on Nows the Time but I use “da” for every note just making them higher or lower. I would have no idea how to do it like those videos of Alexa doing Parker tunes.
    I'm pretty sure she didn't start with Parker tunes. Maybe start with something simpler?

  29. #28

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    Quote Originally Posted by Eric Dolphy View Post
    I understand this part, my problem is connecting the syllables with the tone I can produce with my voice. Does this make sense?

    For example: I can sing the first couple bars of a Charlie Parker solo on Nows the Time but I use “da” for every note just making them higher or lower. I would have no idea how to do it like those videos of Alexa doing Parker tunes.
    I agree with Matt, but I think you can do two things: You can start learning slow pop tunes, slow film scores, or anything slow to get a good grasp of solfege with slow but pretty tunes. Or use a transcription app/software to slow down the Charlie Parker solos, sing the solos slowly with solfege then gradually speed it up.