SOL /soul/ n. a syllable used to denote the fifth note in the diatonic musical scale
The practice of using syllables to represent musical notes is a long-established teaching device known as SOLMIZATION.
The DIATONIC (literally “through tones”) musical scale is a tone-based sequence of seven notes, which has become the Western standard.
A singing exercise that uses solmization in the diatonic scale is called SOLFEGGIO (/sol.FEJ.ee.oh/), in Italian, SOLFEGE (/sol.FEJ or SOL.fej/), in French, or SOL-FA, in English.
These names derive from the traditional syllables used in this technique, which are (in their most common spellings): DO, RE, MI, FA, SO(L), LA, TI
If, like me, you’re not familiar with the fundamentals of music theory, you might need to do just a little more research to recognize today’s word as the answer to the following New York Times crossword clues…
- Diatonic scale tone
- Fa-la filler
- Staff note
- G, in the key of C
- Step on the scale
- Beethoven’s fifth?
I particularly like the last one! And that reminds me… A reader wrote to me recently saying that one of the crossword clues I had listed didn’t make sense. The reason was she was unfamiliar with the use of the question mark at the end of some crossword clues, which is a popular practice in American newspaper crossword puzzles. The question mark means that there is some ‘punny’ wordplay going on, so don’t take the clue too literally. [Beethoven's fifth?] is a perfect example ;-)
There is, of course, a great deal more to be said about this musical tradition, which has once again given me an idea for an entire monthly theme! In the meantime, I’ll just leave you with a catchy demonstration of today’s subject that doesn’t come from the The Sound Of Music…