Musical Note Names in Different Languages -

Musical Note Names in Different Languages

by Christian Morris

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Whilst the English-speaking world most commonly uses note names to describe the degrees of the scale (i.e. C, D, E, F, G, A, B, C in the case of C Major), other countries, including France, Italy, Portugal, Spain and all of Latin America use a system known as 'fixed DO', the names being as follows:

Christian Morris

N.B. These note names do not change according to the key, so that 'DO', for example, is always the note C. This is not to be confused with the moveable DO system, which is used as a teaching method in the English-speaking world and beyond. In this system DO, RAY, MI, FA, SO, LA, TI are used to represent the degrees of the scale of the key of the piece, so if the piece were in C major the note C would be 'DO', but if it were in G major, the note 'G' would be 'DO'

A further complication arises in Germany, which used similar note names to the English system, except that B is used for Bb and H for B:

Christian Morris

This, incidentally, explains the origin of the famous B-A-C-H theme:

Christian Morris

It has been used many times by composers since J.S. Bach, for example by Robert Schumann in his Sechs Fugen uber den Namen: Bach

Here, then, is a complete list of note names, including accidentals, in different languages:

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