Consecutive 5ths: Am I being too picky?
  • ViolaViola
    Posts: 334
    I'd like to introduce the Jesu dulcis memoria, attrib. Victoria, to our choir, but am repelled by the obvious consecutive/parallel 5ths between the tenor and alto at bar 12, sed super mel
    I've considered rewriting that bit, possibly by delaying the tenor entry by one beat, or something.....
    Does anyone know of an edition that doesn't have these fifths?
    Is anyone else bothered by them or should I just get a life? Would anyone in the congregation notice, let alone be offended by it? Have other people used this piece successfully?
    It's just that staff at the ancient university I attended regarded consecutive 5ths and octaves as a capital offence. If any of our harmony exercises contained one it would come back heavily circled, with appropriate caustic comments.
    I guess this is more evidence that this piece is not in fact the work of Victoria, who, one assumes, would never be guilty of such an outrage. Perhaps we should sing it anyway and I'll offer it up, as the nuns back at school used to advise.
    Thanked by 1stulte
  • When conducting the piece, it might bug my ear a little. But the number of people in your congregation who care or will notice will be zero.
    Thanked by 2Viola PolskaPiano
  • CHGiffenCHGiffen
    Posts: 4,192
    I think this work is better described as misattributed to Victoria.
    Thanked by 2Viola tomjaw
  • You do not intend the consecutive fifths to occur. You did not provide the material to insert consecutive fifths into. Contribution is remote at best, and clearly there is a proportionately serious reason to perform this piece. I find you not guilty of cooperation in consecutives.

    But even if you were...avoiding them is a matter of good craft, but there are far worse things.
    Thanked by 2Viola PolskaPiano
  • Just swap the alto and tenor notes on the second beat of m. 12 and the problem resolves itself.
    Thanked by 2CHGiffen Viola
  • Richard MixRichard Mix
    Posts: 1,944
    Fifths between inner voices are often considered less culpable than between outer.
  • Kathy
    Posts: 5,103
    Jeffrey, please don't work on a hospital ethics committee!
  • Carol
    Posts: 488
    Great discussion! Thank you and here I thought my husband was the only person obsessed with parallel fifths!
    Thanked by 2CHGiffen Viola
  • francisfrancis
    Posts: 8,342
    Parallel fifths are only a problem with a group of vocalists who cannot identify and remain closely fixed to the assigned pitch frequencies of the notes within the octave during the execution of selection of music. I would dare say that is many if not most choirs, but not always. The smaller the choir, and the more sensitive each vocalist is to frequency identification without being swayed by another choirister, the less it is a problem. Other than that, it is just a matter of tradition to avoid the schema. Also, if the music is not executed a cappella, it is really not an issue.
    Thanked by 1Viola
  • stulte
    Posts: 254
    I'll chime in and say that I'd avoid parallel 5ths. The PIPs won't notice, but it's our job to be smarter-than-the-average-bear when it comes to music. A former professor of mine once opined that counterpoint was, perhaps, the most distinguishing characteristic of Western music. The use of parallel 5ths runs contrary to the idea of producing music with relative independence of the lines because parallel 5ths imply simply moving along in block chords tied together.
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 10,175
    I will worry about those 5ths when all the more important issues are resolved.
    Thanked by 2Viola PaxMelodious
  • Liam
    Posts: 3,868
    It would be perfectly authentic to have a fifth of gin and supertonic for bondage and subdomination (church musicians in bondage sing amen to subdomination). Just don't be deceptive and substitute vodka for gin.
  • francisfrancis
    Posts: 8,342
    OK... fun excersize here...

    Show parallel fifths in selected well known pieces below if you can. Thanks for your time in advance.
  • Liam,

    That was nearly perfect!
  • stulte
    Posts: 254
    Viola, this edition doesn't have the parallel 5ths in measure 12.
    Thanked by 1Viola
  • The Pedrell Opera Omnia from B&H gives the parallel fifths reading and not that listed above, and I think out of deference to the composer (whoever it may be), if we wish to alter the piece, we should do so in the least intrusive way possible. That was the rationale behind my suggestion which preserves the open fifth on the second beat while solving the parallels.
  • B&H = Breitkopf and Haertel?
  • ...and Haertel?
    Or, perhaps, Boosey and Hawkes?
  • The former. It's available on IMSLP.
  • ghmus7
    Posts: 1,155
    If one of your congregation comes to you and says "hey! I noticed that there were parallel 5ths in that piece!", I will give you $10.00!
    Thanked by 1Viola
  • I know of at least one instance of parallel sevenths!
    They are in the second verset of the kyrie cunctipotens in Pierre Attaigngant's* 1535 volume of organ works.
    I ran across one other instance somewhere in early musicdom in the last year or so, but can't remember who perpetrated them.

    If you look real hard you just might find parallel fifths scattered wantonly throughout Messiaen's organ music - except that one or both notes will be enharmonic
    Fifths may also be found here and there in Bach's music - but don't tell a sophomoric freshman that... (Besides, he likely already knows it and will inform you of it as if he [or she] were the only person in the world who knows it.)

    *Attaigngant's competitor for being the first (1530) to develop single impression movable type printing on a large scale is John Rastel, an Englishman who was Thomas More's son-in-law.
  • David AndrewDavid Andrew
    Posts: 1,193
    I’m rather surprised that nobody pointed out the fact that vertical harmonies and the rules of theory that govern them didn’t become truly codified until sometime in the Baroque with the use of figured bass. Prior to that, the “rules” applied more to horizontal lines. Vertical harmonies as we hear them were accidental, and modern theory really doesn’t apply. Vittoria is high renaissance. I suppose there are some who try to “correct” the cross-relations in Tallis, too!
    Thanked by 1MarkS
  • stulte
    Posts: 254
    David, there's no way this is by Victoria. It sounds like something written further into the 1600s. And copyists make mistakes sometimes.
  • I made an edition of this for a music director who wanted additional verses, though I left the consecutives intact. But the 1844 source this comes from is quite sloppily engraved, even for the time, and it wouldn’t surprise me at all if that A in the tenor is really a C that got punched on the wrong line.

    Consecutive fifths and octaves are a no-no in Renaissance harmony. The rule is discussed in detail by Morley and goes back to at least the 14th century for certain contexts.
  • An indispensable tome for Renaissance practice is The Style of Palestrina and the Dissonance, by Knud Jeppesen. A supremely scholarly treatment of renaissance practice through Palestrina lens.
    Thanked by 2CHGiffen Viola
  • Richard MixRichard Mix
    Posts: 1,944
    The first Kyrie of Couperin's Messe pour les Couvents ends with the most delicious parallel 7's that I know.
    Thanked by 1M. Jackson Osborn
  • ViolaViola
    Posts: 334
    Coming back to this because I think I may possibly have a solution. It is: start the tenor with an A on the last beat of bar 12. That preserves the open 5th on the second beat, and the tenor now has an independent entry up to D on the first beat of bar 13. Bar 13 for the tenor then has four straight crotchet beats. Do people think that would work?
    Actually I have rather gone off this piece, it is so obviously not by Victoria. I think we'll do something else, preferably something which he actually wrote.