Introduction to Tonal Reading

In the course Tonal Fundamentals, you learned several series of familiar tonal patterns in a familiar order (abbreviated FPIFO, and pronounced “Fuh-Pi-Fo"). Let’s now look specifically at what the major harmonic patterns look like in musical notation.

DO Signatures

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Just as we needed a time signature to tell us what to audiate rhythmically, we need a key signature to tell us what to audiate tonally. However, since we are using solfege, it is more beneficial to think about them as “DO Signatures” because that should be their main use for us: to tell us where DO is.

In the case of the DO-Signature below, DO is on the first space from the bottom. Since this note is named F, we will refer to this as F-DO. I have highlighted this space in light gray for clarification purposes.

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You can put DO anywhere on the staff, which is one of the amazing thing about learning to read with solfege. The relationships between the notes will be the same, but they just start in a different place. This will become very obvious soon.

Tonic and Dominant Patterns in Notation

The first thing you should realize is that you can think about harmonic patterns happening in two directions: vertically and horizontally. When you conceive of a harmonic function vertically, the individual pitches happen concurrently, and you have a chord (as if you strummed a chord on the ukulele). This is what our initial tonic and dominant chords look like when conceived vertically in F-DO.

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You can also conceive of the pitches of these patterns happening horizontally, one after the after, as when you echoed the patterns.

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Regardless of whether they are played together (as in a chord strummed on a ukulele) or performed pitch by pitch, they should still be audiated as a gestalt, as one harmonic function.

Review Familiar Patterns in F-DO

Before you move on to reading patterns in the next lesson, be sure to watch the video and engrain the 15 patterns in your audiation (this time in F-DO). Remember: we learn to read by reading familiar words!


Resources

Lesson Worksheet

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