Trio (music)

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Music ensembles
according to the number of people
Duet / Duo
Terzett / Trio
Orchestra / Choir

Trio (borrowed from Italian trio to Latin tres , three ' ) referred to in the music an ensemble - occupation with three performers. Also works for this instrumentation are trio called. The term trio is mainly used in the field of instrumental music. The conceptual counterpart in vocal music is the trio .

The baroque trio sonata does not belong in this category despite the similarity of the names: Here the use of the term trio refers to the number of voices . Since the figured bass part can be performed by several musicians, more than three performers are often involved in a trio sonata.

Classical music

In classical music , by far the most common trio instrumentation is the piano trio of violin , cello and piano . The most famous works are by Ludwig van Beethoven , Johannes Brahms , Antonín Dvořák , Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy , Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Robert Schumann . Also Joseph Haydn wrote important works of his late work for this instrumentation, and even Johann Sebastian Bach added his sonatas for violin and harpsichord a vote for bass viol added.

The string trio is also widespread, usually with a violin, viola and violoncello. Works for this come from, among others, Ludwig van Beethoven and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart ; Antonín Dvořák wrote his well-known trio for two violins and viola.

Other trio formations mostly arose from the need to expand the sound of the piano trio by replacing one of the string instruments with a wind instrument. There are several trios for piano, violoncello and clarinet (well-known examples from Beethoven and Brahms, who also wrote a trio for piano, violin and French horn ). Similarly, Mozart's Kegelstatt Trio adds viola and clarinet to the piano. But although some important works were written in these formations, they are only an exception in classical music; Obviously, two string instruments mix better than two heterogeneous instruments and only together form a balance compared to the piano, which is much stronger in terms of sound and polyphonic possibilities.

If, on the other hand, the piano was replaced by another chord-compatible instrument, mixed ensembles were more likely to establish themselves, for example in chamber music with guitar , which was often combined with flute and violin (for example in the trios of Ferdinando Carulli or Joseph Kreutzer ), or in trio for flute, viola and harp by Claude Debussy .


In jazz there are numerous examples of trios that play in a wide variety of formations. Some examples are:


Trios in rock music are also called power trios . The line-up is mostly guitar , bass and drums . Well-known rock trios with this line-up are, for example, The Jimi Hendrix Experience , Cream , The Police or ZZ Top . A representative of the trio with keyboard was Emerson, Lake and Palmer . The German band Trio offered a minimalist line-up : guitar, drums and vocals.

Cabaret, cabaret

Not limited to the musical genre alone, there are also various trio formations in the field of cabaret and cabaret .