Lets say i have a 4 voice texture. The first chord has a 5th between the soprano and bass but then in the second chord there is a 5th between bass and tenor. That would be parallel 5ths or no? do I still have to avoid parallel 5ths in this scenario? its not the same pair of voices?

1 Answer 1


"Parallel 5ths" is a contrapuntal term that refers to two consecutive intervals, in this case two consecutive intervals of a perfect fifth where both voices move in the same parallel direction to get from one fifth to the next.

So if the soprano sings a G and the bass sings a C, that's a perfect fifth to be sure, but not a parallel fifth. "Parallel" is necessarily implying motion. If the next chord after that was the soprano singing an A and the bass singing a D, then yes, that would be a parallel fifth since both voices moved in parallel (by major second, here) from one perfect fifth to another.

There are voice-leading rules about fifths, but keep in mind that every major and minor triad already contains a perfect fifth in it. It's good to be alert to perfect fifths when writing in this style, but the real trouble with perfect fifths comes when you start having voices that don't move independently enough to counteract the strong consonance of the perfect fifth interval.

  • oops i meant to say just a 5th instead of parallel 5th. Could you re read my question and answer it please?
    – Gordon O
    Apr 20, 2021 at 20:02
  • 1
    @GordonO The general principle is that perfect fifths in different voices is okay - in fact, inevitable and necessary - but be careful that you don't end up with parallel fifths in the same voices. There are some other rules you will want to know about as well.
    – user45266
    Apr 20, 2021 at 20:20

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