If I use a vocoder to play the same note as a vocal + a perfect 5th above each note, is that a consecutive 5th? Is this "bad"?

Also, if I play C1 and program the vocoder to play a perfect 5th, it would play C1 and G1.

If I step backwards 7 semitones from C1 and play F0, is that also a perfect 5th?

How bad would F0 C1 G1 sound as a harmony?

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    Related, and possibly answers your question? Does the rule regarding consecutive octaves/fifths actually hold any weight? – Richard Jan 4 at 3:18
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    "How bad would F0 C1 G1 sound as a harmony" idk how about you play it and hear it for yourself? – Esther Jan 4 at 5:48
  • Not a separate answer because I find this question in its current state to be too broad: lines in parallel fifths may end up sounding un-idiomatic for the genre (e.g. Classical-era music) or not so good anyway. I find parallel fifths fine in heavy metal for the most part but garbage (at least IMO) in the player attack theme from the first Fire Emblem game. – Dekkadeci Jan 4 at 12:26
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    I was tempted to answer this question until I found that the first paragraph, the last paragraph, and the middle two paragraphs could all be split into separate questions, the former 2 questions attracting long answers. – Dekkadeci Jan 4 at 12:27
  • Working with some Everly Brothers songs recently, I was dissatisfied by the stock 'thirds over or under' vocal harmonies suggested in the printed song copy. Listening to the recordings, the boys actually sang quite a lot of consecutive 5ths. And it sounds perfectly 'full'. – Laurence Payne Jan 4 at 13:26

The "rule" about parallel fifths/octaves does not say that they're "bad" or that you can't write them. What it really says is that if you have two independent voices, and those voices have a spot where they move together in a parallel fifth/octave, then we tend to hear those voices as sort of "linking up" and losing their independence for that moment. This shift from independence to dependence and back can be jarring. It's also very unidiomatic for music written in (or in the style of) the common practice period (Baroque through Romantic eras).

If you're using a vocoder to duplicate the sound, then that duplicated line is not independent, and the "rule" doesn't apply.

If I backwards 7 semitones from C1 and play F0 - is that also a perfect 5th?


How bad would F0 C1 G1 sound as a harmony?

First of all, it's up to you to decide how it sounds. Do you like it? Write it.

Second of all, this is called quintal harmony, and it's not very common but it's been explored in modern music.

  • There's even a word in German that describes the practice of singing in fifths, quintieren, which has been, on and off, a fairly common practice from the Middle Ages up to the present. – Scott Wallace Jan 4 at 10:45

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