Better Guitarin’ – ep 4 – Solfege for Guitarists

Solfege is a pretty invaluable tool for any musician, but most of the videos on Youtube discussing it do so via the piano, or just vocally. Having something explained and shown to you on your own instrument is a big help in getting the idea across and allowing you to start practicing and implementing that idea. So I’m gonna show you how solfege works via the guitar!

In the video, I mention that I’m using “moveable Do chromatic solfege with a Do based minor”. What that means is that, in this system, Do is always your tonic pitch. So if you’re in A, then Do is an A note. If you’re in Bb, Do is a Bb note. If you’re in D, Do is a D note. You get the point. Fixed Do solfege is the other main method of solfege, and it’s just an alternative to using letter names for the notes. So a C note is Do, a D note is Re, an E note is Mi, and so forth. I find this method to be a HUGE waste, as moveable Do solfege is the absolute best system I’ve ever encountered for relative pitch classification. If you’re using fixed Do, then you can’t use moveable Do, and you’re missing out because of it. Letter names are fine. The alternative systems for relative pitch classification all fall short of moveable Do solfege for various reasons. So that’s what I use.

I also use a “Do based minor”. This just means that in a minor key, your tonic is still Do. The alternative is a La based minor, where your tonic in a minor key is La… I honestly can’t make any sense of that. You’re just undermining the benefits that moveable Do solfege offers in the first place. I’m yet to hear any argument for La based minor that holds water. It’s just a dumb idea. For example, what happens if you’ve got a song that switches from the A minor to A major? Does La become Do? Does Do move up a half step and become Mi? It’s just stupid, but that’s a lot of exposition. Let’s just talk solfege.

If we take a major scale, such as G major (G A B C D E F#), we can use different syllables to sing the different notes of the scale. The root of the scale (G), is Do. The 2nd scale degree (A) is Re. The 3rd (B) is Mi, then Fa, Sol, La, and Ti. Consistently using these syllables to sing these notes is a great way to memorize the relative sound of those notes in the context of a key! Check out the video for some examples.

But what about the other notes? We’ve got unique syllables for all of them too! Here they are in relation to a tonic C note, major scale notes are in bold text:

C – Do, C# – Di, Db – Ra, D – Re, D# – Ri, Eb – Me, E – Mi, F – Fa, F# – Fi, Gb – Se, G – Sol, G# – Si, Ab – Le, A – La, A# – Li, Bb – Te, B – Ti

The following website has some good exercises for arranging these syllables and practicing them. I encourage you to give it a read:

I will make a video showing how to play different intervals on the guitar and link to it here in the near future, until then, just try to figure out some of the melodies I played in the video.