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Encyclopedia > Solo (music)

In music, a solo is a piece or a section of a piece played or sung by a single performer (solo is an Italian word literally meaning alone). In practice this means a number of different things, depending on the type of music and the context. // Music is an art form consisting of sound and silence expressed through time. ...

The word is also used for the act of performing a solo, and sometimes for the performer (more often a soloist).

The plural is 'soli' or 'solos'. In some context these are interchangeable, but 'soli' tends to be restricted to classical music, and tends to refer to either the solo performers or the solo passages in a single piece: it would not often be used to refer to several pieces that happen to be for single performers.


Classical music

Solo pieces

A piece written for a single performer is referred to as a solo, often qualified by instrument, as piano solo or flute solo. These are common for polyphonic instruments such as the piano, organ, harpsichord or harp. Monophonic instruments such as flutes or violins are more often accompanied by piano or other instruments, but there are still plenty of solo works for such instruments, such as the violin partitas and the cello suites of J S Bach. A short grand piano, with the top up. ... The flute is a musical instrument of the woodwind family. ... A short grand piano, with the top up. ... Organ in Katharinenkirche, Frankfurt am Main, Germany The organ is a keyboard instrument played using one or more manuals and a pedalboard. ... Harpsichord in the Flemish style A harpsichord is any of a family of European keyboard instruments, including the large instrument currently called a harpsichord, but also the smaller virginals, the muselar virginals and the spinet. ... The harp is a stringed instrument which has the plane of its strings positioned perpendicular to the soundboard. ... The flute is a musical instrument of the woodwind family. ... The violin is a bowed string instrument with four strings tuned in perfect fifths. ... The violin is a bowed string instrument with four strings tuned in perfect fifths. ... Partita was originally the name for a single instrumental piece of music (16th and 17th centuries), but Johann Kuhnau and later German composers (notably Johann Sebastian Bach) used it for collections of musical pieces, as a synonym for suite. ... The violoncello, usually abbreviated to cello, or cello (the c is pronounced as in the ch of check), is a bowed stringed instrument, the lowest-sounding member of the violin family. ... It has been suggested that Suite_de_Danses be merged into this article or section. ... Bach in a 1748 portrait by Haussmann Places in which Bach resided throughout his life Johann Sebastian Bach (pronounced ) (21 March 1685 O.S. – 28 July 1750 N.S.) was a prolific German composer and organist whose sacred and secular works for choir, orchestra and solo instruments drew together the...

Solo is not usually part of title of a piece, except sometimes in a phrase such as '... for piano solo'.


Main article: Concerto

A Concerto is a piece for one, or sometimes several, instrumental performers together with an orchestra: the distinguished part is referred to as the solo (soli or solos if there are several). The term concerto (plural is concerti or concertos) usually refers to a musical work in which one solo instrument is accompanied by an orchestra. ... The term concerto (plural is concerti or concertos) usually refers to a musical work in which one solo instrument is accompanied by an orchestra. ... This article does not cite any references or sources. ...

Although there may be passages where only the soloist is playing, generally the solo part is accompanied by the orchestra: its distinctiveness and prominence are what makes it a solo.

Solo passages

In a similar way to a Concerto, any ensemble piece may have portions where one or other instrumentalist is particularly prominent, and these are often referred to as solos.

Solos in a section

The strings in an orchestra are usually grouped in sections, where several players are playing the same music most of the time. But sometimes the music will direct that only one player in the section is to play, or that one player in the section is to play something different from the rest of the section. These are also referred to as solos. A string instrument (or stringed instrument) is a musical instrument that produces sound by means of vibrating strings. ... This article does not cite any references or sources. ...

Vocal and Choral music

All the types of solo mentioned above in instrumental music have their parallels in vocal and choral music. There are pieces for solo singers, possibly accompanied; there are pieces for soloist and chorus (like concertos, but that word is not usually used); and there are solo passages in choral works. This article is about choirs, musical ensembles containing singers. ...


Main article: Jazz

In many Jazz performances, each number will alternate ensemble sections with solo sections where one performer is playing either completely alone, or with unobtrusive accompaniment from the others. Common examples are the rhythm section of jazz bands, and quiet background music by other wind instruments. Such solos are often improvised. This article needs additional references or sources for verification. ...

See also

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