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In some styles of classical music, these syllables are assigned to
these letters and remain unchanged regardless of the key you're in.
This is called a fixed "do".
However, in most popular styles of rock, pop and jazz, a moveable "do" is used. This means that whatever key you're in, the first note of the scale called "the TONIC" is now "do". So, if you were in the key of G, G would now be "do" and A would now be "re".
Each note in the scale is also called a degree. Below I have given you the actual names of the scale degrees 1-7. Once we start learning about composing and songwriting, it can be useful to know the names of these degrees. More importantly it can be very useful to know how they function in a melody.
WARNING: This is technical stuff and really just knowledge for
the music geek :-) Don't lose sleep if this doesn't interest you. Many
AMAZING songwriters have no idea that these notes have specific names.
Let's keep this in the key of C to keep it simple.
NOTE: No matter what key you're in, the scale degree names stay the same for these syllables.
Scale Degree 1 is called the TONIC (this is also Do or C)
Scale Degree 2 is called the SUPERTONIC (this is also Re or D)
Scale Degree 3 is called the MEDIANT (this is also Mi or E)
Scale Degree 4 is called the SUBDOMINANT (this is also FA or F)
Scale Degree 5 is called the DOMINANT (this is also SOL or G)
Scale Degree 6 is called the SUBMEDIANT (this is also LA or A)
Scale Degree 7 is called the LEADING TONE (this is also TI or B)
REMEMBER: The reason any scale is major instead of minor, is that there are 4 semitones (or half steps) from the first note of the scale (TONIC) to the third note (MEDIANT) of the scale. (A) minor scale has a distance of 3 semitones from the TONIC to the MEDIANT of the scale.
Let's look at how this applies to the famous song from The Sound of Music!
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