How is Solfa Different From Shape Note Singing?

Shape note singing has a longer history than the Curwen/Kodaly system of solfa/solfege. We must remember that the purpose of the Tonic Sol-fa method wasn’t to get students to sing and read from the staff right away, it was to develop an ear for intervals (inner hearing). Shape note singing is a version of learning to read music notation on the staff.  Shape note hymnals were around during the Tonic Sol-fa days, but they were not used in the sight singing method. Tonic Sol-fa notation was used instead.

As with shape note singing, the Tonic Sol-fa method and modern methods like Kodaly, Orff, and Gordon use syllable names (do, re, mi, fa…etc.) but differ in the ways they are notated. Solfa syllables and Curwen hand signs used with modern notation is the standard for singing training in schools around the world.  Shape note singing is also still used but more commonly found within the American South.