In music, a quartet (French: quatuor, German: Quartett, Italian: quartetto, Spanish: cuarteto, Polish: kwartet) is a method of instrumentation (or a medium), used to perform a musical composition, and consisting of four parts.
Western art musicEdit
In Western art music, which is often referred to as "Classical music," string quartets are considered to be an important type of chamber music. String quartets consist of two violins, a viola, and a cello. The particular choice and number of instruments derives from the registers of the human voice: soprano, alto, tenor and bass. In the string quartet, two violins play the soprano and alto vocal registers, the viola plays the tenor register and the cello plays the bass register. Occasionally, string quartets are written for violin, viola, cello and double bass, representing the SATB format. The types of pieces written for this quartet are sometimes in the format of 2 main voices, (violin and cello) backed up by the viola and double bass respectively.
One of the early composers of string quartets, Luigi Boccherini, wrote 100 string quartets. Other important composers of string quartets include Joseph Haydn, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, and Ludwig van Beethoven. The term "quartet" is also used to refer to a musical composition written for such a group. In string quartets, each player is typically given an allowing distinct part.
Wind quartets are scored either the same as a string quartet with the wind instrument replacing the first violin (i.e. scored for wind, violin, viola and cello) or are groups of four wind instruments. Among the latter, the SATB format woodwind quartet of flute, oboe, clarinet, and bassoon is relatively common.
An example of a wind quartet featuring four of the same types of wind instruments is the "Saxophone Quartet", consisting of Soprano Saxophone, Alto Saxophone, Tenor Saxophone and Baritone Saxophone or (SATB). Often a second alto may be substituted for the Soprano part (AATB) or a Bass Saxophone may be substituted for the Bari. The groups usually perform a mix of classical and jazz. Saxophone Quartet literature is limited and most of the traditional style classical sheet music is transcribed from string quartet charts.
Quartets are widely used in jazz and jazz fusion music. A standard quartet formation in jazz is an ensemble consisting of a "horn" (e.g., saxophone, trumpet, etc.), a chordal instrument (e.g., electric guitar, piano, Hammond organ, etc.), a bass instrument (e.g., double bass or bass guitar) and a drum kit. This configuration is sometimes modified by using a second "horn" in place of the chordal instrument, or by using two chordal instruments (e.g., piano and electric guitar).
The quartet lineup is very common in pop and rock music. A standard quartet formation in pop and rock music is an ensemble consisting of two electric guitars, a bass guitar, and a drum kit. This configuration is sometimes modified by using a keyboard instrument (e.g., organ, piano, synthesizer) or a soloing instrument (e.g., saxophone) in place of the second electric guitar.
Vocal quartets can consist of:
1st Tenor, 2nd Tenor (Lead), Baritone, and Bass for male groups;
1st Soprano, 2nd Soprano (Lead), Mezzo-Soprano, and Contralto for female groups;
Soprano, Mezzo-Soprano, Tenor or Baritone, and Bass for mixed groups;
Tenor, Lead, Baritone, Bass for male or female quartets singing barbershop music
Western art musicEdit
In 20th century US popular music, the term "vocal quartet" is used to refer to ensembles of four singers, usually of the same sex. This is particularly common for Barbershop quartets and Gospel quartets. Some well-known female US vocal quartets include The Carter Sisters; The Forester Sisters; The Chiffons; The Chordettes; The Lennon Sisters; and En Vogue. Some well-known male US vocal quartets include The Ames Brothers; The Chi-Lites; Crosby Stills Nash & Young; The Dixie Hummingbirds; The Four Aces; Four Freshmen; The Four Seasons; The Four Tops; The Cathedral Quartet; Ernie Haase and Signature Sound; The Golden Gate Quartet; The Hilltoppers; The Jordanaires; Mills Brothers; The Rascals; and The Skylarks. The only known U.S. drag quartet is The Kinsey Sicks. Some mixed-gender vocal quartets include The Pied Pipers; The Mamas & the Papas; The Merry Macs; and The Weavers; .