A musical ensemble is a group of two or more musicians who perform instrumental or vocal music. In each musical style different norms have developed for the sizes and composition of different ensembles, and for the repertoire of songs or musical works that these ensembles perform.
In classical music, trios or quartets either blend the sounds of instrument families (e.g., piano, strings, and winds) or group together instruments from the same instrument family, such as string ensembles or wind ensembles. In jazz ensembles, the instruments typically include wind instruments (one or more saxophones, trumpets, etc.) one or two chordal "comping" instruments (electric guitar, piano, or organ), a bass instrument (electric bass guitar or double bass), and a drummer or percussionist. In rock ensembles, usually called rock bands, there are usually several guitars (one or two electric guitars, a bass guitar, and in some cases, one or more acoustic guitars), a keyboard player (either a Hammond organ, a piano, an electric piano, or an electronic synthesizer), and a drummer.
In Western Art music, commonly referred to as classical music, smaller ensembles are called chamber music ensembles. The terms duet, trio, quartet, quintet, sextet, septet, octet, and nonet are used to describe groups of two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, and nine musicians, respectively.
See main article: quintet. The string quintet is a common type of group. It is similar to the string quartet, but with two violas, two violoncellos, or more rarely, the addition of a double bass. Terms such as "piano quintet" or "clarinet quintet" frequently refer to a string quartet plus a fifth instrument. Thus, a piano quintet is usually a string quartet plus a piano. A Mozart's Clarinet Quintet is similarly a piece written for an ensemble consisting of 2 violins, a viola, a cello and a clarinet, the last being the exceptional addition to a "normal" string quartet.
See main article: Orchestra. Classical chamber ensembles for more than six musicians are occasionally used, such as septets (seven musicians), octets (eight musicians), or nonets (nine musicians). However, in many cases a larger classical group is referred to as an orchestra of some type. A small orchestra with fifteen to thirty members (violins, violas, cellos, double basses, and several woodwind or brass instruments) is called a chamber orchestra. A sinfonietta usually denotes a somewhat smaller orchestra (though still not a chamber orchestra). Larger orchestras are called symphony orchestras or philharmonic orchestras.
The term philharmonic (from Greek philos: love) was originally used by amateur orchestras, distinguishing them from professional symphony orchestras, but nowadays professional classical orchestras may use either term in their titles. A concert orchestra or a pops orchestra is an orchestra that mainly performs light classical music (often in abbreviated, simplified arrangements) and orchestral arrangements and medleys of popular jazz, music theater, or pop music songs. A string orchestra has only strings, i.e., violins, violas, violoncellos and basses.
A symphony orchestra is an ensemble usually comprising at least thirty musicians; the number of players is typically between seventy and ninety-five and may exceed one hundred. A symphony orchestra is divided into families of instruments. In the string family, there are sections of violins (I and II), violas, violoncellos, and basses. The winds consist of the woodwind family of instruments (flutes and piccolo, oboes and English horn, clarinets, and bassoons [often including contrabassoon]) and the brass family (horns, trumpets, trombones, and tuba). The percussion family includes the timpani, bass drum, snare drum, and any other percussion instruments called for in a score (e.g., triangle, glockenspiel, chimes, cymbals, wood blocks).
When orchestras are performing baroque music (from the 1600s and early 1700s), they may also use a harpsichord or pipe organ. When orchestras are performing Romantic-era music (from the 1800s), they may also use harps or unusual instruments such as the wind machine. When orchestras are performing music from the 20th century or the 21st century, occasionally instruments such as electric guitar, theremin, or even an electronic synthesizer may be used. for more information go to www.vekart.webs.com and watch the videos
In jazz, there are several types of trios. One type of jazz trio is formed with a piano player, a bass player and a drummer. Another type of jazz trio that became popular in the 1950s and 1960s is the organ trio, which is composed of a Hammond organ player, a drummer, and a third instrumentalist (either a saxophone player or an electric jazz guitarist). In organ trios, the Hammond organ player performs the bass line on the organ bass pedals while simultaneously playing chords or lead lines on the keyboard manuals. Other types of trios include the "drummer-less" trio, which consists of a piano player, a double bassist, and a horn player (saxophone or trumpet); and the jazz trio with a horn player (saxophone or trumpet), double bass player, and a drummer. In the latter type of trio, the lack of a chordal instrument means that the horn player and the bassist have to imply the changing harmonies with their improvised lines.
Jazz quartets typically add a horn (the generic jazz name for saxophones, trombones, trumpets, or any other wind instrument commonly associated with jazz) to one of the jazz trios described above. Slightly larger jazz ensembles, such as quintets (five instruments) or sextets (six instruments) typically add other soloing instruments to the basic quartet formation, such as different types of saxophones (e.g., alto saxophone, tenor saxophone, etc.) or an additional chordal instrument.
The lineup of larger jazz ensembles can vary considerably, depending on the style of jazz being performed. In a 1920s-style dixieland jazz band, a larger ensemble would be formed by adding a banjo player, woodwind instruments, as with the clarinet, or additional horns (saxophones, trumpets, trombones) to one of the smaller groups. In a 1940s-style Swing big band, a larger ensemble is formed by adding "sections" of like instruments, such as a saxophone section and a trumpet section, which perform arranged "horn lines" to accompany the ensemble. In a 1970s-style jazz fusion ensemble, a larger ensemble is often formed by adding additional percussionists or soloing instruments.
Two-member rock and pop bands are relatively rare, because of the difficulty in providing all of the musical elements which are part of the rock or pop sound (vocals, chords, bass lines, and percussion or drumming) with trios or quartets. Two-member rock and pop bands typically omit one of these musical elements. In many cases, two-member bands will omit a drummer, since guitars, bass guitars, and keyboards can all be used to provide a rhythmic pulse. Examples of two-member bands are Death From Above 1979, The White Stripes, The Ting Tings, The Black Keys and Black Aspirin.
When electronic sequencers became widely available in the 1980s, this made it easier for two-member bands to add in musical elements that the two band members were not able to perform. Sequencers allowed bands to pre-program some elements of their performance, such as an electronic drum part and a synth-bass line. Two-member pop music bands such as Soft Cell used pre-programmed sequencers. Other pop bands from the 1980s which were ostensibly fronted by two performers, such as Wham! and Tears for Fears, were not actually two-piece ensembles, because other instrumental musicians were used "behind the scenes" to fill out the sound.
Two-piece bands in rock music are rare. However, starting in the 2000s, blues-influenced rock bands such as The White Stripes and The Black Keys utilized a guitar and drums scheme. Death From Above 1979 featured a drummer and bass guitarist. Tenacious D is a two-guitar band; One Day as a Lion and The Dresden Dolls both feature a keyboardist and a drummer. The band Welk consists of a two-man psychedelic flute band, with the occasional synthesizer. Two-person bands have grown in popularity in experimental rock music. Providence-based Lightning Bolt is a two-member band. Bassist Brian Gibson augments his playing with delay pedals, pitch shifters, looping devices and other pedals, occasionally creating harmony. Local H, No Age, Warship, and Growing are other prominent two-person experimental rock bands.
The smallest ensemble that is commonly used in rock music is the trio format. In a hard rock or blues-rock band, or heavy metal rock group, a "power trio" format is often used, which consists of an electric guitar player, an electric bass guitar player and a drummer, and typically one or more of these musicians also sing (sometimes all three members will sing, e.g. Bee Gees). Some well-known power trios are: The Jimi Hendrix Experience, The Police, Nirvana, Rush, Cream, Green Day, Blink-182, 30 Seconds to Mars and Muse.
An alternative to the power trio are organ trios formed with an electric guitarist, a drummer and a keyboardist. Although organ trios are most commonly associated with 1950s and 1960s jazz organ trio groups such as those led by organist Jimmy Smith, there are also organ trios in rock-oriented styles, such as jazz-rock fusion and Grateful Dead-influenced jam bands such as Medeski Martin & Wood. In organ trios, the keyboard player typically plays a Hammond organ or similar instrument, which permits the keyboard player to perform bass lines, chords, and lead lines. A variant of the organ trio are trios formed with an electric bassist, a drummer and an electronic keyboardist (playing synthesizers) such as the progressive rock band Emerson, Lake & Palmer.
The four-piece band is the most common configuration in rock and pop music. Before the development of the electronic keyboard, the configuration was typically two guitarists (one lead guitarist and one rhythm guitarist, with the latter on vocals), a bass player (typically the electric bass guitar) and a drummer (e.g., The Beatles, Foo Fighters, Weezer, Coldplay, The Moderns, Metallica, The Clash , Nickelback, Creedence Clearwater Revival, The Kinks, The Pixies, and The Smashing Pumpkins) Another common formation was a vocalist, electric guitarist, electric bassist and a drummer (e.g.The Who, Led Zeppelin, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Queen, Rage Against the Machine, Black Sabbath, No Doubt, Cheap Trick, Van Halen, U2, Jane's Addiction, L'arc~en~Ciel). Instrumentally, these bands can be considered as trios. In some early rock bands, keyboardists were used, performing on piano (e.g., The Rolling Stones initially used Ian Stewart on piano), The Doors with a guitarist, singer, drummer and keyboardist. Electric pianos (such as the Fender Rhodes), or organ (such as the Hammond organ) (e.g, Pink Floyd).
Five-part bands have existed in rock music since early times. The Beach Boys, The Rolling Stones, Aerosmith, Def Leppard, AC/DC, Oasis, Pearl Jam, Guns N' Roses, Steely Dan, and The Strokes are examples of the common vocalist, lead guitar, rhythm guitar, bass, and drums lineup. An alternative to the five-member lineup replaces the rhythm guitarist with a keyboard–synthesizer player (examples being the bands Bon Jovi, Yes, Fleetwood Mac, Marilyn Manson and Deep Purple, all of which consist of a vocalist, guitarist, bassist, keyboardist, and a drummer) or with a turntablist such as Incubus or Limp Bizkit.
Larger bands have long been a part of rock and pop music, in part due to the influence of the "singer accompanied with orchestra" model inherited from popular big-band jazz and swing and popularized by Frank Sinatra and Ella Fitzgerald. To create larger ensembles, rock bands often add an additional guitarist (as in Iron Maiden); an additional keyboardist (as in Procol Harum); additional percussionists (as in Latin-rock bands, e.g. Santana); or second drummer (as in The Grateful Dead and The Allman Brothers Band). Stevie Nicks has an extra guitarist, sometimes drummer and three backup singers in her band. Nu metal band Linkin Park fits the rap rock genre with the inclusion of their turntablist & their emcee, who also plays rhythm guitar & keyboards. Slipknot has nine members, including a turntablist and two percussionists who match the drum beat. In other rock bands, particularly those influenced by other genres such as folk, classical, or country, the additional instrumentalists might include a mandolin player, a banjo player, a sitar player, a fiddler/acoustic violinist, an electric violinist, a timpanist, or a pedal steel guitarist. In some of these larger groups (such as The Band), instrumentalists could play multiple instruments, which enabled the ensemble to create a wider variety of instrument combinations. More rarely, rock or pop groups will be accompanied in concerts by a full or partial symphony orchestra, where lush string-orchestra arrangements are used to flesh out the sound of slow ballads. Third-Wave Ska bands may have six to eight pieces including vocals, guitarist(s), a bassist, a drummer, a trumpet, saxophone, and trombone. Other situations occur depending on the genre the band prefers. For instance, the band Incubus has five members, one of them being a DJ. Also, the band Dare to Dream has five members, including Steven M. Cooper. Huey Lewis and the News also had a large rock ensemble, including the members of the News and the separate jazz band Tower of Power on many of their early hits. Another interesting example is Bang Camaro, who have three guitarists, one keyboardist, one bassist, one drummer, and ten to fifteen singers who sing simultaneously. Bluegrass and other music has roots in Irish folk, and some Irish punk bands such as Flogging Molly have multiple members, some of which play the fiddle, banjo, and the accordion. On the extreme, symphonic metal group Haggard at one time had 21 members, being numerous different types of instrumentalists and vocalists, approaching something more reminiscent of a small chamber orchestra.
Sung dramas such as operas and musicals usually have numbers where several of the principals are singing together, either on their own or with the chorus. Such numbers (duets, trios, etc) are also referred to as 'ensembles'.
In the 1900s, the Wind Symphony or Wind Ensemble became popular, especially in academic circles. A wind ensemble consists entirely of wind instruments and percussion instruments, but may also include a double bass. Schools from elementary level onward often have a school band program which is usually centered around its wind ensemble, often known as a concert band.
A choir is a group of voices. By analogy, sometimes a group of similar instruments in a symphony orchestra are referred to as a choir. For example, the woodwind instruments of a symphony orchestra could be called the woodwind choir.
A group that plays popular music or military music is usually called a band. A group that plays while marching on a football field, without being a marching band, is called a drum and bugle corps. These bands perform a wide range of music, ranging from arrangements of jazz orchestral, or popular music to military-style marches. Drum corps perform on brass and percussion instruments only. Some corps perform on bugles in the key of G, while others perform on brass instruments in multiple keys, depending on the group. Drum and Bugle Corps incorporate costumes, hats, and pageantry in their performances.
Other band types include: