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Published byNathan Anthony Modified over 7 years ago
Western Classical Tradition Chamber Music
Chamber music is intended for performance in a room (or chamber), rather than in a concert hall or large building. It is written for instruments, rather than voices, and is performed by a small group of solo players, with one performer to each part. Most chamber music is written for 2-9 players, although there are some examples composed for larger numbers.
Chamber Music The different sizes of groups are names as follows: Duet (2 players) Trio (3 players) Quartet (4 players) Quintet (5 players) Sextet (6 players) Septet (7 players) Octet (8 players) Nonet (9 players)
Chamber Music Within these descriptions there could be many different combinations of instruments, particularly in works for larger numbers of players. Some of the common combinations are: Duet: piano with one other instrument, e.g. violin, cello, clarinet, flute or horn Trio: string trio (violin, viola, cello) or piano trio (piano, violin, ccello) Quartet: string quartet (2 violins, viola, cello) or piano quartet (piano, violin, viola, cello)
Chamber Music Quintet: string quintet (a string quartet plus an extra viola, cello or a double bass), piano quintet (usually piano plus string quartet), other types of quintets that have a string quartet with an extra instrument, such as a clarinet quintet (clarinet plus string quartet), and various types of wind quintet (woodwind instruments plus French horn) Sextet: string sextet (2 violins, 2 violas, 2 cellos), or wind sextet (for example 2 oboes, 2 horns, 2 bassoons, or 2 clarinets, 2 horns, 2 bassoons).
Listening Activity Listen to an excerpt from the 4 th movement of Bartók’s String Quartet no. 4. The instruments are all being played pizzicato, rather than the usual arco, which means the strings are being plucked, and not played with a bow. In fact, sometimes the strings are plucked so hard that they hit the fingerboard over which they stretch, producing a slapping sound, like a ‘twang’. Sometimes an individual instrument plays two or more notes together (or one after the other, very quickly, like strumming a guitar). This is an example of double-stopping. The harmony is often chromatic, producing a harsh, dissonant sound. This is a 20 th century work. In what ways is it different from the Beethoven string quartet from the next listening activity?
Listening Activity Listen to the opening of Beethoven’s String Quartet op. 95 in F minor. It begins with all four instruments playing a short melody or motif (a brief musical idea or motto) together, in octaves. After this, concentrate on listening to the overall texture. It is easy to focus on the 1 st violin because it is the highest part, but if you listen carefully you will hear the other instruments sharing and developing the opening motif.
Listening Quiz Listen to the excerpt from Schubert’s ‘Trout Quintet’. It is an example of theme and variations 1.Name the five different instruments 2.What instrument plays the theme at the opening? 3.What is the interval between the first two notes in the opening theme? thirdfourthfifthsixth 4. What is the tonality at the beginning of the excerpt? 5.Describe the texture at the start of this excerpt.
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