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Topic: What is four of something?

  1. #1

    Smile What is four of something?

    If they call a violin, a viola, a cello, and a clarinet a "clarinet quartet," what do they call four clarinets? A soprano sax, an alto sax, a tenor sax, and a baritone sax is called a "saxophone quartet." It seems to me that a clarinet and three strings should be called a clarinet solo with string accompaniment. N'est ce pas?

  2. #2

    Re: What is four of something?

    a <insert instrument name here> with three strings is a "quartet for <insert instrument name here> and strings".

    a single clarinet with a string quartet is called a "clarinet quintet" because it's a rather traditional grouping of instruments.

    a lone piano with a string trio is a piano quartet, for the same reason.

    there IS a certain ambiguity in the naming of ensembles, but it should not be a big worry for you.

    calling a piece for clarinet, violin, viola and cello a "clarinet quartet" is perfectly legitimate, as is calling a piece for 4 clarinets a "clarinet quartet".

    An alternate title form that has been used is "quartet WITH clarinet".

    A piece for violin, viola, cello and contrabass is still technically a "String quartet", however, it would be best to indicate on the title page the exact composition of the group.
    "String Quartet in C double sharp diminished
    on a theme of Brittney Spears,
    violin, viola cello and contrabass

  3. #3

    Smile Re: What is four of something?

    Thanks for your reply. It just struck me funny yesterday as I heard an announcer on our local classical music station say that coming up was a clarinet quartet, and I immediately thought I was going to hear a piece for four clarinets.

    But you know, it has struck me as odd that groups of instruments are called what they are. The closest I've gotten to classical music is playing tenor saxophone in a concert band (or is that wind ensemble?). I enjoy listening to classical music and believe it or not, my favorite composition is Tschaikovsky's Fifth Symphony.

  4. #4

    Re: What is four of something?

    I am supposing that we are stuck with the Latin derived "quartet" instead of the Greek "Tetrad" because of some unpleasantness between religious factions in the year 1054. Too bad we can't all be Chalcedonian about this. I vote for "foursome!"
    In theory there is no difference between theory and practice, but in practice there is.

    http://reberclark.blogspot.com http://reberclark.bandcamp.com http://www.youtube.com/reberclark

  5. #5

    Re: What is four of something?

    Forget about the vernacular. I want to hear more about:

    "String Quartet in C double sharp diminished on a theme of Brittney Spears, for violin, viola cello and contrabass".

    [Music is the Rhythm, Harmony and Breath of Life]
    "Music is music, and a note's a note" - Louis 'Satchmo' Armstrong


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