AskDefine | Define quartet

Dictionary Definition



1 the cardinal number that is the sum of three and one [syn: four, 4, IV, tetrad, quatern, quaternion, quaternary, quaternity, quadruplet, foursome, Little Joe]
2 four performers or singers who perform together [syn: quartette]
3 a set of four similar things considered as a unit [syn: quartette, quadruplet]
4 four people considered as a unit; "he joined a barbershop quartet"; "the foursome teed off before 9 a.m." [syn: quartette, foursome]
5 a musical composition for four performers [syn: quartette]

User Contributed Dictionary




  1. A group of four.
  2. Four musicians; A string quartet, A quartet of violinists.


group of four
four musicians

Extensive Definition

In music, a quartet (lang-fr quatuor, lang-de Quartett, lang-it quartetto, lang-es cuarteto) is a method of instrumentation (or a medium), used to perform a musical composition, and consisting of four parts.

Western art music

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 playing a multi-movement musical composition written in sonata form. 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.
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.
Another common type of Western art music quartet is the piano quartet, consisting of violin, viola, cello, and piano.
Yet another type of Western art music quartet 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 preform a mix of classical and jazz. Saxophone Quartet literature is limited. Most of the traditional style classical sheet music is transcribed from string quartet charts. Saxophone Quartets are rare, most are assembled for performance studies at music colleges and the public never gets the chance to hear their unique sound. You can hear them on occasion if you listen to NPR news in the US.


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).

Popular music

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 Quartet

Most vocal quartets consist of: 1st Tenor, 2nd Tenor (Lead), Baritone, and Bass for male groups; Soprano, Alto, Tenor, and Contralto for female groups; and Soprano, Alto, Tenor, and Bass for mixed groups.

Western art music

In the Western art music tradition, vocal music arranged for four singers in an opera or choral work is referred to as a quartet.

Popular music

In 20th century US popular music, the term "vocal quartet" is used to refer to ensembles of four singers, usually of the same sex. Barbershop quartets and Gospel quartets typically use male singers. Some well-known female US vocal quartets include The Chiffons; The Chordettes; and The Lennon Sisters. Some well-known male US vocal quartets include The Ames Brothers; Chi-Lites; The Dixie Hummingbirds; The Golden Gate Quartet; The Four Aces; Four Freshmen; The Four Seasons;The Four Tops; The Hilltoppers; The Jordanaires; Mills Brothers; The Rascals; and The Skylarks. Some mixed-gender vocal quartets include The Pied Pipers; The Mama's & The Papa's; The Merry Macs; and The Weavers.
quartet in Arabic: رباعي (موسيقى)
quartet in German: Quartett (Musik)
quartet in Spanish: Cuarteto (música)
quartet in French: Quatuor
quartet in Galician: Cuarteto
quartet in Latvian: Kvartets
quartet in Lithuanian: Kvartetas
quartet in Dutch: Kwartet (muziek)
quartet in Japanese: 四人組
quartet in Norwegian: Kvartett
quartet in Polish: Kwartet
quartet in Russian: Квартет (произведение)
quartet in Finnish: Kvartetti
quartet in Ukrainian: Квартет

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

German band, Little Joe, Philharmonic, band, big band, bipartisanship, biquadrate, brass, brass band, brass choir, brass quintet, brass section, brasses, callithumpian band, chamber orchestra, coaction, coadjuvancy, coadministration, coagency, cochairmanship, codirectorship, collaboration, collaborativeness, collectivism, collusion, combo, commensalism, common effort, common enterprise, communalism, communism, communitarianism, community, complicity, concert, concert band, concord, concordance, concurrence, cooperation, cooperativeness, desks, dixieland band, duet, duettino, duo, duumvirate, ecumenicalism, ecumenicism, ecumenism, ensemble, ensemble music, ensemble singing, esprit, esprit de corps, fellow feeling, fellowship, four, four-part diaphony, foursome, gamelan orchestra, group, harmony, jazz band, joining of forces, joint effort, joint operation, jug band, mass action, military band, morale, mutual assistance, mutualism, mutuality, octet, orchestra, part music, part singing, part song, polyphonic music, pooling, pooling of resources, pulling together, quad, quadrangle, quadrature, quadrennium, quadrilateral, quadrille, quadrinomial, quadruplet, quatern, quaternary, quaternion, quaternity, quatrefoil, quintet, ragtime band, reciprocity, rectangle, rock-and-roll group, septet, septuor, sestet, sextet, skiffle band, solidarity, square, square dance, squaring, steel band, street band, string band, string choir, string orchestra, string quartet, strings, swing band, symbiosis, symphony, symphony orchestra, synergism, synergy, team spirit, teamwork, terzet, terzetto, tetrad, tetragon, tetragram, tetragrammaton, tetrahedron, tetralogy, tetraphony, tetrapody, trio, triumvirate, troika, united action, waits, woodwind, woodwind choir, woodwind quartet, woodwinds
Privacy Policy, About Us, Terms and Conditions, Contact Us
Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2
Material from Wikipedia, Wiktionary, Dict
Valid HTML 4.01 Strict, Valid CSS Level 2.1