The title seems off-topic, and I don't know what to tag. Could anyone edit it?

I see group of four is quartet, three is trio, two is duo (?) and one is solo. I see every number has different name. So:

  1. What is the name for five?
  2. Is there any language of this naming because a friend of mine said that "try Latin, I think it's the language".
  • As in Schubert’s Trout Quintet? It must be one of the best known, quite likely the best known piece for any quintet.
    – PJTraill
    Jun 18, 2020 at 17:18

3 Answers 3


The naming of groups does indeed come mostly from Latin, sometimes with Italian influence. The etyomologies for the first nine are:

    Number    Group name     Latin      Italian      Meaning
      1         solo         solus       solo        "alone"
      2          duo           duo        due        "two" - this is the Latin word
      3         trio          tres        tre        "three" - tres, but on the pattern of duo
      4        quartet       quarto    quartetto     "fourth" (as opposed to "four")
      5        quintet       quintus    quinto       "fifth"
      6        sextet         sex        sei         "six" - from the Latin (old English: sestet)
      7        septet        septem     sette        "seven" 
      8         octet         octo       otto        "eight"
      9         nonet        novem       nove        "nine"

It is odd how 4 and 5 have their root in the ordinal number ("fourth, fifth") while the others count directly (two, three, six, etc). Also - the "-et" ending can have the connotation of "a piece written for..." (e.g. "duet").

  • 1
    I believe it's "O sole mio" where sole = sun.
    – James
    Jun 23, 2014 at 3:17
  • @James - yes you are right. I shouldn't write answers at 2 am. What was I thinking- error removed. Thanks for pointing it out.
    – Floris
    Jun 23, 2014 at 5:36
  • 2
    The Italian table is all mixed up: if you wanted to write the names of the numbers they are: uno, due, tre, quattro, cinque, sei, sette, otto, nove. If you wanted to write the names of the groups they are: solo, duo, trio, quartetto, quintetto, sestetto, settetto, ottetto, nonetto. If you wanted to write ordinal numbers then they would be: primo, secondo, terzo, quarto, quinto, sesto, settimo, ottavo, nono. Your table mixes all these three elements.
    – Bakuriu
    Jun 24, 2014 at 7:50
  • @Bakuriu - I am writing the etymology of each of the group names - sometimes these are numbers, sometimes ordinals, sometimes (as in "solo") neither. I am showing that most of the names can be traced to Latin, and that where the etymology is from the Italian, it's not always from a number. I am sorry if I did not make that clear - I do know how to count in Italian, but my point was (intended to be) that that doesn't always explain the names of the groups. Maybe I should make an additional column in my table - but then the description falls off the edge...
    – Floris
    Jun 24, 2014 at 7:52
  • 1
    @Floris Well, I belive trio comes from Italian trio (see here) as sextet comes from sestetto (according to this, not from the latin number).
    – Bakuriu
    Jun 24, 2014 at 7:55

A quintet.

For example, the Miles Davis Quintet or the Charlie Parker Quintet with Dizzy Gillespie.

Johannes Brahms wrote a Piano Quintet in F minor, but no, it's not a piece for five pianos (it's for piano plus string quartet).

According to Merriam-Webster, the etymology of the word is Latin by way of Italian, from the Italian word "quintetto." First known use dates back to 1811.

  • Quint means five. Kwint is a fifth. Quintal harmonies are ones built on 5ths
    – Neil Meyer
    Mar 13, 2022 at 15:56

It is a quintet.

A quintet is a group containing five members. It is commonly associated with musical groups, such as a string quintet, or a group of five singers, but can be applied to any situation where five similar or related objects are considered a single unit. In classical instrumental music, any additional instrument (such as a piano, clarinet, oboe, etc.) joined to the usual string quartet (two violins, a viola, and a cello), gives the resulting ensemble its name, such as "piano quintet", "clarinet quintet", etc. A piece of music written for such a group is similarly named.

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