Wish you could write down the music you hear? If you’ve been following along with our Solfa and the Score series then you’ll know that solfa is a powerful framework for easily translating the sounds you hear into notes on the page.

In that series you learned solfa, step-by-step, so that you should now be able to sing or recognise the notes of the major pentatonic scale: do, re, mi, so, la, do.

To put this new skill to use for transcription takes practice. Inside Musical U we have a dedicated module called Melody Practice: Major Pentatonic featuring a series of lessons to help you transcribe or play by ear, using your interval recognition or solfa skills. You can learn more about this training module here.

Here is a small set of practice exercises taken from that module, to help you practice applying your new solfa skills to the task of transcribing music. We’ll use just three keys: C, F and G major.

Easy Transcription Exercises

We will start with melodies using just the first three notes of the major pentatonic scale, do, re and mi. The melodies are short and each will start and end on the tonic (do).

Listen to the clip and try to write down the notes you heard in staff notation.

If you need a hint, listen to the hint clip which will play the melody more slowly and then reveal the solfa syllables.

You can check your answers at the end of the article below.

Medium Transcription Exercises

Now we’ll use the full major pentatonic scale, adding the so and la notes, and the upper do’ too. The melodies will still start and end on do.

Hard Transcription Exercises

Finally let’s try a few which don’t necessarily start or end on the do tonic. To help you out, you’ll hear the full scale played before each melody:

Learning to transcribe music using solfa

How did you get on? This set of exercises should have helped you keep practicing your major pentatonic solfa transcription skills.

badge-melody-practice-majpentThe full Melody Practice module in Musical U has a set of four lessons. Each lesson includes over thirty exercises which help you build up your skills gradually and take them even further than the “hard” set above.

If you’re interested in continuing your solfa training be sure to check out the full solution at Musical U!

Transcription can seem like an intimidating musical skill but having a framework like solfa can make it easy for you. Keep practicing your solfa note recognition and try to transcribe the tunes you hear each day!


Show exercise answers

Easy Transcription Exercise Answers

Easy Melody 1:


Easy Melody 2:


Easy Melody 3:


Medium Transcription Exercise Answers

Medium Melody 1:


Medium Melody 2:


Medium Melody 3:


Hard Transcription Exercise Answers

Hard Melody 1:


Hard Melody 2:


Hard Melody 3: