Some groups learn to know and love the sound and feel of an open fifth sooner and more consciously than others.
Organum chant groups and Barbershop quartets and choruses are among these. And Tibetan monks take it to an extraordinary level!
When the interval of a fifth is sung exactly in tune – steadily, with no vibrato, there’s a cavernous hollowness to the sound but an incredible feeling of fullness and rightness to the physical sensation. This is probably why we moved on from singing plainchant in unison. It just felt so good!
Here’s an exercise I use for making a chorus or choir aware and appreciative of fifths while still having warm up fun.
Row, Row, Row Your Boat, or Three Blind Mice, or Freres Jacques – or any short melody that’s known to my singers.
I have the 2 lower voices sing the melody in a fairly low key, then at the same time I have the upper two voices sing the same song a fifth higher.
So I’d have my choral Tenors and Basses, or my Barbershop Baritones and Basses sing the song in the key of C – while having the upper two voices sing the same song in the key of G.
This is also a good warm up for the brain. Because everyone knows the melody, they need to focus quite hard on singing it in their part’s key.
I like to slow it all down once they’ve got the hang of it, so that they can really appreciate and lock in the fifths. They’ll also begin to notice that when the fifths are locked in, the sound rings and expands, so that it sounds like a much bigger group.
Here are a few groups who’ve got the locked in fifths handled.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6ZCvZY6oxFc (GQ – Girls Quartet My goodness these young women are amazing!!!)