Composers and performers combine the instruments you’ve seen into all kinds of ensembles. Here are four of the most common in the classical world:

String quartet (2 violins, viola, cello)

A demonstration by the Emerson String Quartet:

 

Woodwind quintet (Flute, oboe, clarinet, French horn, and bassoon)

Valerie Coleman, Umoja (2003), performed by Imani Winds

 

Brass quintet (2 trumpets, French horn, trombone, tuba)

Claudio Monteverdi, 1610 Vespers, “Deus in Adjutorium”, performed by Alliance Brass Quintet

 

Orchestra (strings, woodwinds, brass, and percussion)

Benjamin Britten, Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra (1946), performed by the Berlin Philharmonic

 

Other ensembles

A musician can create any kind of ensemble and, especially in music written within the last 50 years, experimental and surprising combinations are possible.

A small chamber ensemble: the piano trio (violin, cello, piano)

Clara Schumann, Piano Trio in G minor, Op. 17 (1846)

 

A large chamber ensemble: harp, flute, clarinet, and string quartet

Maurice Ravel, Introduction and Allegro (1905)

 

Blurring genres

PROJECT Trio, Djangish (2014), inspired by Romani guitarist Jean “Django” Reinhardt (1910-1953) — flute, cello, double bass

 

Combining instruments from different cultures

Shirish Korde, Phoolan (2015)