Explain what the fifths issue is here so we can refer to it

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Explain what the fifths issue is here so we can refer to it

Post Sat Jul 29, 2017 9:45 pm

What I'd like to see is people more knowledgeable than myself posting a nice summary of 1) what the fifths issue is, 2) how to recognize it, and 3) mitigation strategies (including: avoidance in the first place).

Then we link to this thread every time we use the words "fifths issue" in the submit forum.

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Re: Explain what the fifths issue is here so we can refer to it

Post Mon Jul 31, 2017 1:36 am

Mostly copying and pasting from an earlier response I gave:

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The Camelot Wheel was developed from the Circle Of Fifths. Adjacent keys (clockwise or counterclockwise) are what is referred to as being "a fifth apart.”

A “fifth” is just the interval(distance) of 7 semitones (or five white keys on a piano, essentially, hence the name.) Since music notes are cyclical, this “distance" can go in either direction: up 7 semitones, or down 7 semitones. Since there are 12 notes in every octave, going down 5 semitones is the same thing as going up 7, and vice versa.

The Circle Of Fifths represents keys that start 7 semitones apart, which are related keys, but not in a way that the inner and outer wheel of the Camelot Wheel are. Keys that are a fifth apart (next door neighbors on the wheel) share 6 out of 7 notes.

Relative majors/minors (inner/outer wheels) share all 7, but start and end on different notes, so they are much more related than fifth-apart keys, and much more reliable “mashfellows."

Although keys that are a fifth apart are related, they do not often blend well in mashups. To expound a bit more: a melody will sound best if it resolves to the first, third, or fifth note of the scale or chord. If you use a vocal melody that was written a fifth up, the melody will want to resolve to the fifth, seventh, or ninth/second note of the scale or chord of the new instrumental. If the melody was written a fifth down, it will want to resolve to the fourth, sixth, or eight/first note. So in both those cases there is a chance that the melody resolves to the fifth or first note, but the odds aren’t great that it will for every phrase in any given song. So, while none of us would recommend looking to mash songs that are a fifth apart, there are occasionally instances where it works.

Conversely, the fifth option is great for transitioning one song to the other in DJ sets or megamixes, if you need to change keys, because moving the whole song a fifth is a very natural sounding transition.

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Re: Explain what the fifths issue is here so we can refer to it

Post Mon Jul 31, 2017 2:58 am

Yeah. What he said.

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Re: Explain what the fifths issue is here so we can refer to it

Post Mon Jul 31, 2017 11:00 am

Mitigation Strategies for Fifths Issues

Avoid it entirely. If you have a fifths issue, you can look for a different component to mix. Since fifths make good transitions, maybe you can reserve one the components for later in the song and engineer a transition.

Transposition. Unfortunately 5 is an extreme transposition. A rule of thumb is "split the difference" and try to move one component +3 and the other -2. If you have multitracks (stems) for the instrumental you can sometimes move it quite aggressively because you can preserve the percussion tracks. Conversely, without stems it can be challenging to move the instrumental, although varispeed (changing the rate of playback) can be effective if there are no vocals in the instrumental and the tempo shift is amenable. For acapellas, shifting vocalists 2 semitones can sometimes sound strange although the best software really does work better (e.g., Melodyne).

Phrasing. The key point was explained by MashGyver:
MashGyver wrote:a melody will sound best if it resolves to the first, third, or fifth note of the scale or chord. If you use a vocal melody that was written a fifth up, the melody will want to resolve to the fifth, seventh, or ninth/second note of the scale or chord of the new instrumental. If the melody was written a fifth down, it will want to resolve to the fourth, sixth, or eight/first note. So in both those cases there is a chance that the melody resolves to the fifth or first note, but the odds aren’t great that it will for every phrase in any given song.

Sometimes you can move the melody such that it is landing on the right note (first or fifth) at the right time with respect to the instrumental. Also, if there is a lucky bit of the melody somewhere that happens to resolve on a good note, you could try reusing that bit for the end of the phrase.

Spot Correction. As a last resort, you can try and bend individual notes in the melody to resolve the way you need. Sometimes this works, and sometimes it destroys the melody. If you are lucky and your only problem is due to that one note in the scale that differs between the two, then spot correction is a good choice.

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