The Italian word quartetto came to our language as a quartet. The first meaning of the term mentioned by the Royal Spanish Academy ( RAE ) in its dictionary refers to a set of four elements (individuals, animals or objects with common characteristics).
For example: “A quartet of criminals entered the house and took jewelry, electrical appliances and cash”, “The success of the team lies in its quartet of attackers”, “The gala will culminate with a concert by the string quartet”.
The notion of quartet has various uses in the field of music. A composition created to be performed by four voices or instruments is called a quartet. The group of four singers or musicians is also called a quartet.
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It is important to make two clarifications, by way of nuances, that can serve to better understand the technical terms in the field of music. In the first place, voice does not always refer to the set of sounds that the human (or, in another context, the animal) vocal apparatus can emit, but can also be used to describe each of the musical lines that coexist in a polyphonic composition., regardless of the instrument with which they are to be performed.
On the other hand, the voice is also considered an instrument, and that is why if we talk about a vocal quartet we must understand that its members play musical instruments, even if they are natural. Similarly, treating singers and musicians separately has a pejorative tinge, as if the former could not count on an academic training equivalent to or even superior to that of their peers; however, this distinction is very common, although it is not done with the intention of offending vocalists.
A string quartet, in this framework, is an ensemble made up of four string instruments. The most usual conformation of these groups consists of a cello, a viola and two violins.
Vocal quartets, on the other hand, are usually female or male, that is, it is not common to mix voices of women and men in the same group. Generally, the feminine ones are formed by a contralto, a mezzo -soprano , a second soprano and a first soprano; the male ones, on the other hand, are usually made up of a bass, a baritone, a second tenor and a first tenor. Sarasvati, The Cathedrals, Vocal Femmes and The King’s Heralds are some well-known vocal quartets.
As with almost any musical group, quartets can perform a wide range of genres, although historically religious is one of the most prominent: there are hundreds of religious music quartets, many of which have achieved a high level of popularity thanks to a long trajectory and a good diffusion. Religious compositions can be interpreted and enjoyed by people from any field, as long as it is done with respect, and they represent a fundamental part of the history of music.
Since most vocal quartets completely dispense with musical accompaniment, they are often associated with the a cappella style. Nowadays, it is common for some of the members to resort to beatboxing to simulate the presence of other instruments while their partners sing the main melodies. Beatbox is a discipline that seeks to emit sounds and noises that mark the rhythm with the voice and the different parts of the mouth.
In the Argentine province of Córdoba, the quartet is a very popular musical genre that emerged in the 1940s. Carlos “La Mona” Jiménez and Rodrigo Bueno are two of its greatest historical exponents.
Quartet, finally, is a concept that is used in the field of poetry to name the inclusion of four hendecasyllable lines in a stanza. The rhyme is usually done in consonant, the first line with the fourth and the second line with the third.