Chamber Music is a piece of music written for a group of players, (normally between 2 to 10 players), with a single instrument to a part. The normal combinations are:

A composition for any combination of two performers. It could be a piano and a singer; a piano and a violin; a violin and a flute, or simply just two pianists to a piano.

A body of 3 performers together or a piece of music written for them to perform. The most common types of trio are:
String trio – A combination of violin, viola and cello
Piano trio - A combination of piano, violin and cello

A composition for 4 instruments, voices, or a composition for such a gropu. The normal types of quartets are:
String quartet – for 2 violins, 1 viola, 1 cello
Piano quartet – for piano, 1 violin, 1 viola, 1 cello/ 8 hands on 2 pianos or 1 piano
Oboe quartet – for oboe, 1 violin, 1 viola, 1 cello

A composition for 5 instruments, voices or a composition for such a group. The types of quintets existing are:
Vocal quintet – for 2 sopranos, 1 altos, 1 tenor, 1 bass
String quintet – for 2 violins, 2 violas, 1 cello
Wind quintet – for 1 flute, 1 oboe, 1 horn, 1 clarinet, 1 bassoon
(e.g. Schubert’s Trout quintet is for piano, violin, viola, cello and double bass.)

A group of 6 instrumentalists or a musical composition for 6 performers
(e,g, Brahms’s String Sextet)

A group of 7 players or a piece of music for 7 performers.
(e.g. Beethoven’s Septet in E)

An ensemble of 8 performers or any musical composition for such a group.
A string octet normally consists of 4 violins, 2 violas, 2cellos.
(e.g. Mendelssohn’s String Octet, Opus 20)

~ Compiled by Boon Sin Ler

Back to  History & Theory   Brief History of String Quartet   French String Quartets