Music theory can be a complex and intricate subject to master. One of the topics that often confuses beginners in music theory is parallel fifths. In this article, we will discuss what parallel fifths are, how they are used in music, and why they are important to understand.

What Is a Parallel Fifth?

A parallel fifth is a type of musical interval that occurs when two notes that are a fifth apart move in the same direction by the same interval. For example, if you have two notes an A and an E (which is a fifth away from A), and both those notes move up to B and F (which are also a fifth away from each other), this would be considered parallel fifths.

How Are Parallel Fifths Used in Music?

Parallel fifths were commonly used in medieval music but fell out of favor during the Renaissance period. They were seen as creating a “harmonic weak point,” which means that they didn’t create enough tension or interest in the music.

However, parallel fifths can still be found in modern music genres like rock, pop, and even film scores. They can add a sense of power and energy to the music when used correctly. For example, you might hear parallel fifths used in a guitar riff or as part of an epic orchestral arrangement.

Why Are Parallel Fifths Important to Understand?

Understanding parallel fifths is important for several reasons. Firstly, it allows you to analyze music more effectively. If you can identify where parallel fifths occur in a piece of music, you can better understand how those intervals contribute to the overall sound and feel of the composition.

Secondly, knowing about parallel fifths can help you compose your own music more effectively. By understanding how different intervals interact with each other, you can make more informed decisions about how to structure your melodies and harmonies.


Parallel fifths may seem like a small and insignificant part of music theory, but they can have a big impact on the sound and feel of a piece of music. By understanding what parallel fifths are, how they are used in music, and why they are important to understand, you can take your music theory knowledge to the next level and create more engaging and powerful compositions.