Solresol: A Language Of Music And Colour

There are a lot of unusual languages in the world from all corners of the globe each with its own sound. There are also invented languages like Esperanto created to be a language to unite the world. However, by far the most unusual and imaginative is the language of Solresol. What makes it so unique is that it is based on the musical notes and therefore can be played on a musical instrument as well as spoken. It can also be adapted to the seven colours of the rainbow making it possible to paint a sentence.

Solresol was created by Francois Sudre in 1827 as a way of allowing the whole world to easily communicate with each other. Unlike Esperanto or other such attempts, it is not based on any pre-existing language and thus does not give any advantage to any group (it mustn’t be easy for someone in Asia to learn Esperanto), though it does use a Latin alphabet.


It has only seven letters based on the musical scale: Do, Re, Mi, Fa, Sol, La, and Si. Apparently people now use “Ti” instead of “Si” and “So” instead “Sol”, but the language has kept the original usage common in France at the time. These seven letters can be assigned colours or even numbers, making the language hugely adaptable. So the verb “to be” in Solresol is “faremi” or green-orange-yellow or 423. There are also graphics or hand signals that can be used making it suitable as an international sign language. By reversing the letters, you get the opposite, so fala is good, while lafa is bad. Plural and feminine is indicated by lengthening the last syllable and tenses are indicated by emphasising various syllables.

An example of the ways to say Solresol
An example of the ways to say Solresol

The language underwent a brief period of popularity in 19th century France before more or less dying out. However, thanks to the weird and wonderful workings of the internet it has undergone something of a revival. The internet not only introduces the concept to people, it allows them to access websites to learn to speak it as well as allowing people across the globe to communicate with each other. It has its own subreddit, a facebook group, dictionaries and a some blogs for learning it. It also pops up as an interesting piece of trivia.

An example of the many ways to say the one word Camel


There are several problems with the language. Firstly, as there are only seven letters, words look very similar and hence it is very easy to get confused. This also means it is very difficult to differentiate tenses and other grammar. To be able to understand someone speaking Solresol would require you to pay extremely close attention, possibly restricting it to being a solely written language. Words can easily get jumbled together as it is hard to tell when one ends and another begins (other than having dramatic pauses after every word). As the vocabulary is so limited it is hard to express yourself or convey more than simple thoughts. Thirdly, while the idea of playing notes to communicate to someone is certainly very imaginative, it too would be very hard to hear what someone is trying to say (especially if you do not have a musical ear). Also while it would be lovely if all our conversations sounded like Mozart, unfortunately playing Solresol sounds like hitting random notes.

A performance of Romeo and Juliet in Solresol. Sometimes things sound better on paper than in action.

So while Solresol is certainly the most imaginative language I’ve ever heard of, there are so many practical problems with actually using it, that it is no more than a novelty secret language.

6 thoughts on “Solresol: A Language Of Music And Colour”

  1. Personally, I felt the Kircher Society’s Solresol performance was almost disrespectfully campy. With a better and more consistent execution, it would sound much better.

  2. Fellow SolReSol speakers, I have some news for you – we are currently working on powerful and versatile software called SolReSol: The Project. Its aim is to make the world aware of SolReSol, help memorise the vocabulary, and, most importantly, provide visual and audio representation of the language! We are a small team of developers, so please take a look at our Indiegogo campaign to find out more:

    1. That looks like an amazing software and I would probably start learning Solresol if it was available. Your project would give the language a huge boost and I wish you the best of luck with it. I gave $20 and I hope more people will do the same. I would recommend promoting it on Reddit as there is a pretty active and supportive conlang community there.

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