27. Each Simplification Has Its Place
A moveable “Do” is just as nonsensical in the science of music as a moveable “A” is in the alphabet, when each letter that we start from could be “A.”
Once, the Hungarian composer Zoltan Kodali (1882-1967) invented a system of relativity for choir education. The system allowed illiterate people to learn to sing in choirs without having to waste time on learning all of the notes and their tonalities. Kodali applied the very beginning of learning, the sounding-out stage, but limited it to the very minimum in order to simplify things. Instead of notes, he implemented seven hand signals for the conductor’s use. It was as if he reduced music to the simple relationship between the seven steps of harmony. This system, as there wasn’t any better, was embossed into good practice specifically for people who didn’t have access to musical literacy.
Unfortunately, Kodali’s invention, originally created for a strictly utilitarian purpose, was carried over into music classes in countries that use the Alphabet System, thus worsening music education. Singing in Solfeggio has been assigned to only one scale – that of “Do!” No matter what tonality music actually sounds in, the Tonic is called “Do.” It has become impossible to sing Solfeggio in any other tonalities. Solfeggio’s connection to Kodali’s system hasn’t improved it, but has reduced it to the singing of seven notes. Ever since, all other tonalities have been studied without practical application, exclusively with the help of the Alphabet System and without vocal sounding.
There is a simple solution to this problem: take away the moveable “Do,” but keep the most important element of Kodali’s system – familiarization of tune with the assistance of hand signals. Of course, starting music education with the one simplest tonality, Do Major, should be allowed. The use of Do Major to teach the relationship of the different steps to each other is entirely justified. But the singing of real music comprises of all of the notes in Solfeggio in all 24 tonalities, and should be a crucial stipulation of any music education.