undefined Sarah Glover
Sol-fa notation as the Gamut originated in the eleventh century when a Benedictine, Guido, of the Italian monastery of Arezzo devised a system by which his choristers learnt to read plainsong melodies. He took the first syllable from each line of the chant as each line started one note higher. There were only six syllables to start with 'ut, re, mi, fa, sol, la,' but this notation formed the basis of the tonic sol-fa as we know it today.
Sarah Glover first experimented with her teaching method on a young Sunday School teacher and then took on children from the workhouse in Norwich who she taught to sing hymns from sol-fa notation. As her fame spread she trained suitable young women to teach in other parts of the country. However she did appear to develop a two-tier system whereby refinements were deemed unnecessary 'for the labouring classes of society' and thus it was that the majority of her own pupils were from the middle classes, girls who would go on to become headmistresses and governesses.
At a Sunday School Union conference in 1841 it happened that a Reverend John Curwen, already a teacher himself, was asked to recommend a suitable teaching technique for dissenting Sunday Schools and although he had no musical skills himself he eventually taught himself from Sarah Glover's book Scheme to Render Psalmody Congregational.
Before long he was becoming successful and publishing sol-fa notation music without much regard for Miss Glover until one day he wrote to her explaining his modifications to her 'scheme'. A letter to the editor of the Norwich Mercury 26 April 1879 told of Miss Glover's distaste and for over twenty years she refused to endorse his modifications. She never intended her system to supersede the common notation, but as an introduction to it. In Curwen's book he says 'this work is not intended to teach those ignorant of music how to sing, but to explain the tonic sol-fa notation and method of teaching to those who are already familiar with the established mode.'
Tonic sol-fa not only shows which notes to sing but is quite comprehensive in that it also shows the tempo, pulse, rhythm and how the beats are accented by a series of dots, dashed and lines. The key of the piece is shown at the beginning. John Hullah, trained at the Royal Academy of Music in London and a friend of Charles Dickens, realised the shortcomings of the fixed sol-fa and introduced a new table of syllable to take care of sharps and flats. Each name in the tonic sol-fa scale had slight modifications added. For example the flat of DOH became 'du' and the sharp became 'da' and this was applied to each note thus forming a chromatic scale.
The sol-fa method has been employed in singing ever since. Today it is mainly an addition to staff notation but can still be seen as the only form of music but this is mainly in hymn books. The Socialist Sunday Schools hymn books varied in each year's edition. Some hymn books had staff notation and words, some were words only and some were words and tonic sol-fa. This enabled anyone who was at least literate, to have the ability to sing the hymns.