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Watch: In 1827, a French musician created a universal language made entirely of music

Solresol has only seven letters, each being a musical note.


As humans, we tend to associate language with words, signs or symbols. But what if there was a language made up entirely of music?

In 1827, a French musician and teacher named Jean-François Sudre constructed just such a language. His aim was to create a universal language, and he wrote a book, La Langue Musicale Universelle (Universal Music Language) which was published after his death in 1866.

The language was called Solresol, and it is based on the notes of the musical scale – do, re, mi, fa, sol, la, ti, do – which take the place of letters. Thus, it is one the world’s smallest alphabets, with only seven letters – or seven musical notes to create all the words.

Vocally, Solresol can be communicated with whistling, singing, musical instruments, humming, or with hand gestures for people with hearing disability. In the written form, the language is either written ib musical notation, with the colours of a rainbow – one for each letter – or with the words do, re, mi and so on. The video above thoroughly explains the language and how it is used.

To get a better idea of how Solresol works, watch the video below. The notes being played on the piano are converted in real time to Solresol, which are then converted to English and colour to show you the Solresol meaning of the notes being played.


And if you’re curious to see how the world might have been communicating had Solresol been successful, watch a bit of Romeo and Juliet being performed in Solresol.

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