Ensembles

Types and Sizes of Ensembles

An ensemble is defined as a group of people performing a musical number together and/or a group of musicians playing musical instruments together. There are various kinds of ensembles that are differentiated based on the type of music they play, the type of instruments they use in their performances and the number of musicians performing together. For this article we will learn about the different types of small ensembles.

Small Ensembles

Duet - Composed of two musicians performing together. May also be defined as a composition meant to be played by two musicians either on different or similar instruments, for example piano duet or piano four hands.

Trio - Composed of three musicians performing together. May also be defined as a piece of music meant to be played by three musicians or a piece of music for three instruments. For example, a string trio is composed of a cello, violin and viola.

Quartet - Composed of four musicians performing together. May also be defined as a composition meant to be played by four musicians or a composition for four instruments. For example, a string quartet is composed of one cello, one viola and two violins.

Quintet - Composed of five musicians performing together. May also be defined as a piece of music meant to be played by five musicians or a piece of music for five instruments.

For example, Schubert's Piano Quintet in A major is composed of a piano, bass, cello, violin and viola.

Sextet - Composed of six musicians performing together. May also be defined as a composition meant to be played by six musicians or a composition for six instruments. For example, a string sextet is composed of two cellos, two violins and two violas.

Septet - Composed of seven musicians. May also be defined as a piece of music meant to be played by seven musicians or a piece of music for seven instruments. For example, Beethoven's Septet in E-Flat Major, Op. 20 is composed of a bassoon, cello, clarinet, double bass, horn, violin and viola.

Octet - Composed of eight musicians. May also be defined as a composition meant to be played by eight musicians or a composition for eight instruments. Mendelssohn's Octet for Strings in E flat major, Op. 20 originally scored for two cellos, four violins and two violas is an example.