Solo (music)

Last updated
Trumpeter, bandleader and singer Louis Armstrong: as soloist. Louis Armstrong restored.jpg
Trumpeter, bandleader and singer Louis Armstrong: as soloist.

In music, a solo (from the Italian : solo, meaning alone) is a piece or a section of a piece played or sung featuring a single performer, who may be performing completely alone or supported by an accompanying instrument such as a piano or organ, a continuo group (in Baroque music), or the rest of a choir, orchestra, band, or other ensemble. Performing a solo is "to solo", and the performer is known as a soloist.

The plural is soli or the anglicised form solos. In some context these are interchangeable, but soli tends to be restricted to classical music, and mostly either the solo performers or the solo passages in a single piece. Furthermore, the word soli can be used to refer to a small number of simultaneous parts assigned to single players in an orchestral composition. In the Baroque concerto grosso, the term for such a group of soloists was concertino .

An instrumental solo is often used in popular music during a break or bridge to add interest and variety to a part of the song without lyrics.[ citation needed ]

Originating as a musical term, "solo" was borrowed into other fields, as for example in the First solo flight of a student pilot.

History

18th century

In the Baroque and Classical periods, the word solo was virtually equivalent to sonata , and could refer either to a piece for one melody instrument with (continuo) accompaniment, or to a sonata for an unaccompanied melody instrument, such as Johann Sebastian Bach’s sonatas for violin alone. [1]

See also

Sources

  1. David Fuller, "Solo", The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, second edition, edited by Stanley Sadie and John Tyrrell (London: Macmillan Publishers, 2001).

Related Research Articles

Classical period (music) Genre of Western music (c.1730–1820)

The Classical period was an era of classical music between roughly 1730 and 1820.

Cello Bowed string musical instrument

The cello ( CHEL-oh; plural celli or cellos) or violoncello ( VY-ə-lən-CHEL-oh; Italian pronunciation: [vjolonˈtʃɛllo]) is a bowed (and occasionally plucked) string instrument of the violin family. Its four strings are usually tuned in perfect fifths: from low to high, C2, G2, D3 and A3. The viola's four strings are each an octave higher. Music for the cello is generally written in the bass clef, with tenor clef and treble clef used for higher-range passages.

Figured bass

Figured bass, also called thoroughbass, is a kind of musical notation in which numerals and symbols indicate intervals, chords, and non-chord tones that a musician playing piano, harpsichord, organ, lute play in relation to the bass note that these numbers and symbols appear above or below. Figured bass is closely associated with basso continuo, a historically improvised accompaniment used in almost all genres of music in the Baroque period of Classical music, though rarely in modern music.

Music Form of art using sound and silence

Music is the art of arranging sounds in time to produce a composition through the elements of melody, harmony, rhythm, and timbre. It is one of the cultural universal aspects of all human societies. General definitions of music include common elements such as pitch, rhythm, dynamics, and the sonic qualities of timbre and texture. Different styles or types of music may emphasize, de-emphasize or omit some of these elements. Music is performed with a vast range of instruments and vocal techniques ranging from singing to rapping; there are solely instrumental pieces, solely vocal pieces and pieces that combine singing and instruments. The word derives from Greek μουσική ; see § Etymology and glossary of musical terminology.

A concerto is, from the late Baroque era, mostly understood as an instrumental composition, written for one or more soloists accompanied by an orchestra or other ensemble. The typical three-movement structure, a slow movement preceded and followed by fast movements, became a standard from the early 18th century.

The concerto grosso is a form of baroque music in which the musical material is passed between a small group of soloists and full orchestra. This is in contrast to the solo concerto which features a single solo instrument with the melody line, accompanied by the orchestra.

Rondo and the part-equivalent French term rondeau are words long used in music in a number of ways, most often in reference to a musical form.

Accompaniment Musical parts which provide the rhythmic and/or harmonic support for the melody or main themes of a song or instrumental piece

Accompaniment is the musical part which provides the rhythmic and/or harmonic support for the melody or main themes of a song or instrumental piece. There are many different styles and types of accompaniment in different genres and styles of music. In homophonic music, the main accompaniment approach used in popular music, a clear vocal melody is supported by subordinate chords. In popular music and traditional music, the accompaniment parts typically provide the "beat" for the music and outline the chord progression of the song or instrumental piece.

In Western classical music, obbligato usually describes a musical line that is in some way indispensable in performance. Its opposite is the marking ad libitum. It can also be used, more specifically, to indicate that a passage of music was to be played exactly as written, or only by the specified instrument, without changes or omissions. The word is borrowed from Italian ; the spelling obligato is not acceptable in British English, but it is often used as an alternative spelling in the US. The word can stand on its own, in English, as a noun, or appear as a modifier in a noun phrase.

Harpsichordist

A harpsichordist is a person who plays the harpsichord. Harpsichordists may play as soloists, as accompanists, as chamber musicians, or as members of an orchestra, or some combination of these roles. Solo harpsichordists may play unaccompanied sonatas for harpsichord or concertos accompanied by orchestra. Accompanist harpsichordists might accompany singers or instrumentalists, either playing works written for a voice and harpsichord or an orchestral reduction of the orchestra parts. Chamber musician harpsichordists could play in small groups of instrumentalists, such as a quartet or quintet. Baroque-style orchestras and opera pit orchestras typically have a harpsichordist to play the chords in the basso continuo part.

Trio (music)

In music, a trio is 1) a composition for three performers or three musical parts, 2) in larger works the middle section of a ternary form, which was in history often a trio composition instruments, and 3) an ensemble of three instruments or voices performing trio compositions.

Classical music Broad tradition of Western art music

Classical music is art music produced or rooted in the traditions of Western culture, including both liturgical (religious) and secular music. While a more precise term is also used to refer to the period from 1750 to 1820, this article is about the broad span of time from before the 6th century AD to the present day, which includes the Classical period and various other periods. The central norms of this tradition became codified between 1650 and 1900, which is known as the common-practice period.

Concerto for Flute, Harp, and Orchestra (Mozart)

The Concerto for Flute, Harp, and Orchestra in C major, K. 299/297c, is a concerto by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart for flute, harp, and orchestra. It is one of only two true double concertos that he wrote, as well as the only piece of music by Mozart for the harp. The piece is one of the most popular such concertos in the repertoire, as well as often being found on recordings dedicated to either one of its featured instruments.

A solo concerto is a musical form which features a single solo instrument with the melody line, accompanied by an orchestra. Traditionally, there are three movements in a solo concerto, consisting of a fast section, a slow and lyrical section, and then another fast section. However, there are many examples of concertos that do not conform to this plan.

In the years centering on 1600 in Europe, several distinct shifts emerged in ways of thinking about the purposes, writing and performance of music. Partly these changes were revolutionary, deliberately instigated by a group of intellectuals in Florence known as the Florentine Camerata, and partly they were evolutionary, in that precursors of the new Baroque style can be found far back in the Renaissance, and the changes merely built on extant forms and practices. The transitions emanated from the cultural centers of northern Italy, then spread to Rome, France, Germany, and Spain, and lastly reached England . In terms of instrumental music, shifts in four discrete areas can be observed: idiomatic writing, texture, instrument use, and orchestration.

The ripieno concerto is a somewhat later type of Baroque music, the term concerto here reverting to its earlier meaning of work for an ensemble. The word ripieno is from the Italian for "padding". The concerto ripieno was sometimes referred to as a "concerto a quattro". These were merely compositions for the ripieno alone, with either no solo parts or clearly subsidiary ones. Beginning with the six ripieno concertos, Op. 5 (1692), of Giuseppe Torelli, this genre enjoyed an efflorescence that extended until about 1740.

Baroque music Style of Western art music

Baroque music is a period or style of Western art music composed from approximately 1600 to 1750. This era followed the Renaissance music era, and was followed in turn by the Classical era, with the galant style marking the transition between Baroque and Classical eras. The Baroque period is divided into three major phases: early, middle, and late. Overlapping in time, they are conventionally dated from 1580 to 1650, from 1630 to 1700, and from 1680 to 1750. Baroque music forms a major portion of the "classical music" canon, and is now widely studied, performed, and listened to. The term "baroque" comes from the Portuguese word barroco, meaning "misshapen pearl". Key composers of the Baroque era include Johann Sebastian Bach, Antonio Vivaldi, George Frideric Handel, Claudio Monteverdi, Domenico Scarlatti, Alessandro Scarlatti, Henry Purcell, Georg Philipp Telemann, Jean-Baptiste Lully, Jean-Philippe Rameau, Marc-Antoine Charpentier, Arcangelo Corelli, François Couperin, Giuseppe Tartini, Heinrich Schütz, Jan Pieterszoon Sweelinck, Dieterich Buxtehude, and others.

Violin sonata

A violin sonata is a musical composition for violin, often accompanied by a keyboard instrument and in earlier periods with a bass instrument doubling the keyboard bass line. The violin sonata developed from a simple baroque form with no fixed format to a standardised and complex classical form. Since the romantic age some composers have pushed the boundaries of both the classical format as well as the use of the instruments.

Concerto for Piano, Violin and Strings (Mendelssohn)

The Concerto for Piano, Violin, and Strings in D minor, MWV O4, also known as the Double Concerto in D minor, was written in 1823 by Felix Mendelssohn when he was 14 years old. This piece is Mendelssohn's fourth work for a solo instrument with orchestral accompaniment, preceded by a Largo and Allegro in D minor for Piano and Strings MWV O1, the Piano Concerto in A Minor MWV O2, and the Violin Concerto in D minor MWV O3. Mendelssohn composed the work to be performed for a private concert on May 25, 1823 at the Mendelssohn home in Berlin with his violin teacher and friend, Eduard Rietz. Following this private performance, Mendelssohn revised the scoring, adding winds and timpani and is possibly the first work in which Mendelssohn used winds and timpani in a large work. A public performance was given on July 3, 1823 at the Berlin Schauspielhaus. Like the A minor piano concerto (1822), it remained unpublished during Mendelssohn's lifetime and it wasn't until 1999 when a critical edition of the piece was available.

Johann Sebastian Bach wrote his fifth Brandenburg Concerto, BWV 1050.2, for harpsichord, flute and violin as soloists, and an orchestral accompaniment consisting of strings and continuo. An early version of the concerto, BWV 1050.1, originated in the late 1710s. On 24 March 1721 Bach dedicated the final form of the concerto to Margrave Christian Ludwig of Brandenburg.