An Illustrated History of Solresol, A Language Completely Constructed Out of Seven Musical Notes

In a melodic episode of Things You Might Not Know, guest host 12tone explains via staff paper illustration, the history of Solresol, a language developed by violinist Jean-François Sudre in the 19th century that was completely constructed out of musical notes. The result was 3,000 words, each word having no more than four syllables. From there Sudre created subtexts and meaning with certain combinations of words.

…he turned to a system of musical notation known as solfège. This is that Do-Re-Mi stuff Julie Andrews was singing about. Well, almost: In The Sound Of Music, the notes are Do, Re, Mi, Fa, Sol, La, Ti, Do, which is the English method, but most other countries in Europe use “Si” instead…

At four syllables, he takes this concept to a whole new level, breaking all the words up into seven groups, called keys, based on their first syllable. The key of Do, for instance, is all about humanity,
including the body, mind, and spirit. The key of Re is for words about the household and family, Mi is for actions and flaws, Fa is for travel and war, Sol is for art and science, La is for industry, and Si is for government.

Lori Dorn
Lori Dorn

Lori is a Laughing Squid Contributing Editor based in New York City who has been writing blog posts for over a decade. She also enjoys making jewelry, playing guitar, taking photos and mixing craft cocktails. Lori can be found posting on Threads and sharing photos on Instagram.