Musical Term
Singing by a group of people without instrumental accompaniment

The word "A cappella" comes from the Italian phrase "Alla Capella", meaning "in the church style".

A cappella music follows the church traditions of polyphonic musical work by unaccompanied voices.

A musical part which supports or complements a melody

Sing (or play) with someone who is singing (or playing) the main melody, and as a musical part that supports or complements the melody.

A composition for ten performers

A musical composition for ten instruments or ten singers.

The common instrumental setting of dectet usually consists of two string quintets, two woodwind quintets, or a combination of string quintet and woodwind quintet.

Two voices

A ensemble setting or composition for two instruments or two singers.

In a duet, each part is equally important. They usually take turns to play the solo part.

The word "Duet" comes from the Italian word "Duetto", which means "Two voices".

A group of musicians who perform together

An ensemble is a group of two or more musicians who perform together, including chamber music (such as duets to quintets), choirs, string ensembles, wind ensembles, and orchestras.

A composition for nine performers

A musical composition for nine instruments or nine singers.

The instrumental setting of nonet is usually based on a string quartet (or a woodwind quintet) with other types of instruments added.

A composition for eight performers

A musical composition for eight instruments or eight singers.

An octet is usually written of two groups of quartets. The most common settings are:

  • String Octet: Consisting of two string quartets, meaning for four violins, two violas, and two cellos.
  • Woodwind Octet: Consisting of two woodwind quartets, meaning for two oboes, two clarinets, two french horns, and two bassoons.
  • String and Woodwind Octet: Consisting of a string quartet and a woodwind quartet, meaning for two violins, viola, cello, clarinet, oboe, french horn, and bassoon.
A composition for four performers

A musical composition for four instruments or four singers.

Although any group of four performers can be called a quartet, traditionally the word "Quartet" mainly refered to String Quartet (consisting of two violins, viola, and cello).

Other examples of "Quartets" include Piano Quartet, Flute Quartet, Oboe Quartet... Traditionally, various "Quartets" are comprised of a String Trio (violin, viola, cello) with an instrument that is not part of the string family.

In addition, "Quartet" can also be used to refer various combinations of mixed instruments, such as woodwind quartets, brass quartets, and vocal quartets.

A composition for five performers

A musical composition for five instruments or five singers.

In Western classical music, a quintet is usually written for strings (two violins, two violas, cello), woodwinds (flute, clarinet, oboe, bassoon, french horn), and piano with a string quartet (piano, two violins, viola, cello).

In vocal genre, a quintet is usually written for two sopranos, alto, tenor, and bass.

A composition for seven performers

A musical composition for seven instruments or seven singers.

Compared with other ensemble settings, septets are relatively rare in Western classical music. One of the most famous classical septets is Beethoven's Septet in E flat major for clarinet, bassoon, french horn, violin, viola, cello, and double bass.

A composition for six performers

A musical composition for six instruments or six singers.

The most common setting of sextets are:

  • String Sextet: two violins, two violas, two cellos.
  • Woodwind Sextet: two clarinets, two bassoons, two french horns.
  • Piano Sextet: piano with a string quintet (or woodwind quintet).
A composition for three performers

A musical composition for three instruments or three singers.

In Western classical music, the most common combinations of trio ensembles are the piano trio (piano/violin/cello) and the string trio (violin, viola, and cello).