Lesson 4: A Practical Example

How does this method work in practice? Let us take an example of the Lux Aeterna chant from the Requiem Mass. As was mentioned already, the Do Clef tells us where Do is. Then we count down like this:

Now that we know where Do is, it is easy to mark the rest of the solfege:

The following video shows how you can sing the chant in solfege. Then, it goes through it in the “French” system of numbers (see above). Finally, it goes through it with the Latin words:

As you can see by these two examples (PDF), it is possible to notate entire Gregorian pieces using nothing but Solfege or the French number system. If you think this is fun, here are hundreds more (PDF), compiled by Justine Ward.

This may seem very difficult, but the really good news is that after you figure out the first 2-3 notes, the entire piece seems to “fall into place” easily. However, if you miss the first interval or so, you are in for a rocky ride!

When there are large skips in a piece, they need to be “filled in.” Filling in the intervals is something that must be practiced constantly. Even the professionals sometimes need to “fill in” an interval to make sure they are singing it correctly.

Here’s how it works. When the singer is presented with a large skip, how can he know how it should sound?

It could sound like any of these:

So, how can we know which is the correct skip? The only way to know for sure is to “fill in” the difficult interval, like so: