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Music ensembles
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Duet / Duo
Terzett / Trio
Orchestra / Choir

A trio (from Latin tertius : "third"; Italian. Terzetto ; French. Trio ; English. Terzet ) in music, in contrast to the instrumental trio, denotes a composition for three concert voices with or without instrumental accompaniment. The group of vocal soloists involved is also usually called that.

The vocal trio is often part of larger dramatic or oratorical works.


In the 16th and 17th centuries, three-part vocal and instrumental movements were often called tricinium .

The exclusively vocal meaning of the term Terzett only finally established itself in the course of the 19th century. So is called z. B. nor Beethoven Trio op. 87 for 2 oboe and English horn in the autograph terzetto , and even Dvořák op. 74 and op. 75, a, (1887) used the term Terzett for Streichtrios.

Occasional attempts to differentiate trio and trio from each other related more to the scope of the pieces than to their scoring:

  • Johann Gottfried Walther lifts the compositional difference between vocal and instrumental trio out: a combined Kurtz Composition by drey singing voices, with their special game-bass and other instruments accompagnierenden; it [em] is a similar composition of three instrument parts, including the bass part.

Differentiation between trio and trio

Although trio is generally used for vocal and trio for instrumental instrumentation and pieces of music, the use of the terms is still not completely clear, so that deviations from the norm can be observed in individual cases. At least the following statements can be made carefully:

  • A group of three individual performers is more likely to be called a trio , especially in the purely instrumental area.
  • If there are three identical instruments, the term trio is often used .
  • Three of other instruments accompanied vocal soloists hot in the field of classical music in any case trio , in the field of popular music, the term resurfaced Trio on.
  • A piece for three distinctly different instruments is more likely to be called a “trio”. An example of this is the piano trio , which usually consists of a violin , cello and piano .


Individual evidence

  1. Sébastien de Brossard: Dictionaire de musique , Paris 1703, p. 181 ( digitized in the Google book search).
  2. Johann Gottfried Walther: Musicalisches Lexicon , Leipzig 1732, p. 600 ( digitized in the Google book search).