Solfa Cipher Secrets

Solfa Cipher is a system for encoding text messages as musical melodies.
Simply type your text message in the top box to encode. Spaces are ignored; commas add bar lines; periods add a new staff.


Solfa cipher:  

In the Solfa cipher, the letters D, R, M, F, S, L, and T refer to the seven diatonic scale degrees (e.g., Do, Re, Mi, etc.).
The numbers refer to one of four possible count placements based on a unit duration (e.g., an 8th note).
To encrypt the Solfa cipher as a playable melody, set the Solfa §Key with a clef, tonic, mode and rhythmic unit.

Solfa §Key:                         

Cipher Tune: [set decoy]                                             
The cipher tune could use the same clef and key signature as the Solfa §Key or, to disguise the message even further, you could display a decoy key. The position of the notes on the staff will be the same with the decoy, but by selecting a different clef and key signature they will be interpreted as the wrong scale degrees. Selecting a decoy time signature can also help hide the basic rhythmic unit. The Solfa §Key displays bar lines to indicate when the first note of the tune does not start on a downbeat (i.e., not 1). Thus, changing the placement of the first bar line in the decoy would also confound decryption. The original Solfa §Key will be needed to decipher the melodic message and should be passed on separately from the encrypted melody. If your recipient has a good ear, you could play the melody to pass on the message.

            ABC notation:

If you are planning to print or copy-and-paste the Cipher Tune from the pop-up window, you can polish it up first by editing the raw ABC notation. Click on a notehead on the staff to highlight the corresponding part in the ABC notation. Insert "|" between notes to add bar lines (e.g., A3 | C1). Delete spaces to beam consecutive notes (e.g., "D1 A3" => "D1A3"). To remove big leaps, you can change the octave of a single note: insert an apostrophe ( ' ) to raise or a comma ( , ) to lower immediately after the letter name (e.g., F2 => F,2). Press Enter/Return to start a new staff line. When finished, click 'Refresh MIDI' for revised audio file. Driven by abcjs, an open source ABC notation editor.

Set Solfa §Key by date:
           Clef:      Tonic:     Mode:     Unit:
     Year      Month      Day

Each date has a unique Solfa §Key associated with it. You can encrypt your message based on today's date, a birthday, etc., and then send your recipient the date for the §Key, instead of the musical Solfa §Key. Enter a date in the boxes above to convert it into musical elements.


To extract the solfa cipher from an encrypted melody, you must determine the scale degrees and unit placement for each note based on the original §Key.
Take the following example:

By itself, Tune-395 is unreadable without knowing the original Solfa §Key. The written clef, key signature and time signature for the tune may be a decoy:

Even if the clef and key signature in the decoy were correct, you wouldn't know for certain which note was Do. A key signature with two flats, for example, could be Bb Major (in which the case the first note of the tune appears to be So); G Minor (first note = Le); C Dorian (first note = Me); etc.

In this case, §Key-395 shows us that the tune is meant to be read in treble clef, in D Major, with an 8th note unit.

Using the §Key, you can write out the correct scale with its associated solfege syllables (Do=D, Re=E, Mi=F#, Fa=G, So=A, La=B, Ti=C#) and divide up the rhythms into counts of four 8th notes. The first downbeat is always '1'; some melodies start on an upbeat.

The extracted cipher symbols can then be typed into the Solfa Cipher box above to translate back into plain text:

You must include a space between each note; enter '=' at the end of the cipher text.

If you don't have access to this website, you can manually encode and decode messages with this cipher grid:
Do Re Mi Fa So La Ti
1:  T I A S E N O  :1
2:  K Z X J Å Æ  :2
3: R C H M D L U  :3
4: F Y G P W B V  :4
Do Ra Me Fi So Le Te

The mapping of letters to scale degrees and beats within the cipher is intended to produce relatively simple musical melodies that you could sing or play. It is optimized for English and other Western European languages. Try typing in completely random letters and compare these melodies with ones generated by common words.

With 28 possible cipher symbols, L2 and T2 are not needed for English. This table includes three additional vowels from Scandinavian languages: Å, Æ and Ø. The latter shares the same cipher symbol as Q, as it is highly improbable that there would ever be confusion between them in a word. You could choose to use these for other non-English letters or characters.
© 2013 - Revised: Dec 2018 - grovenTune{at}gmail[dot]com