Trio (music)

A trio (from Latin tertius. "Third"; Italian terzetto; French trio; engl Terzet ) refers to music as opposed to the instrumental trio, a composition for three concertante voices with or without instrumental accompaniment. The group of vocal soloists involved is usually called so.

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


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

The only meaning of the term vocal trio has finally prevailed only in the course of the 19th century. So say, for example, nor Beethoven Trio op 87 for 2 oboes and English horn in the autograph terzetto, and even Antonín Dvořák, Op 74 and Op 75, a, 1887) used the term trio for string trio.

Occasional attempts to delineate trio and trio apart, based more on the extent of the pieces as their occupation:

  • Brossard defined trio ( a diminutive of Terzo ) as un petit trio.
  • Walther lifts the compositional difference between vocal and instrumental trio: one a kurtz combined Composition by drey singing voices, with their special game - bass and other instruments accompagnierenden; it [em ] like a Composition by drey instrument voices, the bass voice with the calculation.

Delineation of trio and trio

Although it is generally used for vocal trio and trio for instrumental ensembles and musical pieces, the use of the terms is still not entirely clear, so that in individual cases, deviations from the norm can be observed. After carefully following conclusions may be drawn:

  • A group of three individual doing is called rather trio, especially in purely instrumental area.
  • If it is three identical instruments, but is also often mentioned trio.
  • Three accompanied by other instruments, vocal soloists hot in the field of classical music in every case trio, in the field of pop music resurfaced the name trio.
  • A piece for three distinctly different instruments is rather called "Trio ". An example of this is the piano trio, which usually consists of violin, cello and piano.


  • Riemann music encyclopedia, tangible part, Mainz 1967, S. 989 f
  • Honnegger / Massenkeil: The Great Encyclopedia of Music, Freiburg, 1987, Volume 8, p.114 f
  • Musical genre by occupation