Consort of instruments

Consort of instruments
The Smithsonian Consort of Viols

A consort of instruments was a phrase used in England during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries to indicate an instrumental ensemble. These could be of the same or a variety of instruments. Consort music enjoyed considerable popularity at court and in households of the wealthy in the Elizabethan era and many pieces were written for consorts by the major composers of the period. In the Baroque era consort music was absorbed into Chamber music.


Definitions and forms

The earliest documented example of the English word 'consort' in a musical sense is in George Gascoigne’s The Princelye Pleasures (1576).[1] Only from the mid-seventeenth century has there been a clear distinction made between a 'whole' consort, that is, all instruments of the same family (for example, a set of viols played together) and a 'mixed' or 'broken' consort, consisting of instruments from various families (for example viols and lute).[2]

Major forms of music composed for consorts included: fantasias, cantus firmus settings (including In nomines), variations, dances or ayres, and fantasia-suites.[3]

Major composers

Composers of consort music during the Elizabethan era include John Dowland, Anthony Holborne, and William Byrd. The principal Jacobean era composers included Thomas Lupo, Orlando Gibbons, John Coprario, and Alfonso Ferrabosco. Later seventeenth-century composers included Christopher Simpson, William Lawes, Matthew Locke, and Henry Purcell.

Modern consorts

In modern times, a number of ensembles have adopted the term Consort in their names, such as the Jaye Consort, the Morley Consort, the Early Music Consort of London, the Purcell Consort of Voices, the Consort of Voices,[4] the Quadriga Consort, the Locke Brass Consort, and the Rose Consort of Viols.[5]

See also


  1. ^ Warwick Edwards, "Consort", The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, edited by Stanley Sadie and John Tyrrell (New York: Grove's Dictionaries, 2001).
  2. ^ David D. Boyden, "When Is a Concerto Not a Concerto?" (Subscription Access), The Musical Quarterly 43, no. 2 (April 1957): 220–32 (citation on pp. 228–29); S. Sadie and Alison Latham, The Cambridge Music Guide (Cambridge University Press, 1990), p. 136; P. Holman. Four and Twenty Fiddlers: The Violin at the English Court, 1540-1690 (Oxford University Press, 1996), p. 275.
  3. ^ J. H. Baron, Chamber Music: A Research and Information Guide, 2nd revised edition (London and New York: Routledge, 2002), p. 133. ISBN 0-415-93736-1
  4. ^ Consort of Voices.
  5. ^ Rose Consort of Viols.

External links

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Consort — Royal consort redirects here. For the ship, see PS Royal Consort (1844). Consort may refer to: Titles: Queen consort, wife of a reigning king Prince consort, husband of a reigning queen King consort, rarely used alternative title for husband of a …   Wikipedia

  • Consort song (musical) — Consort song is a term used to describe a characteristic English song form of the late 16th and early 17th centuries, for solo voice or voices accompanied by a group of instruments, most commonly viols. Although usually in five parts, some early… …   Wikipedia

  • Consort Zhen — Spouse Guangxu Emperor Posthumous name Imperial Honoured Consort Keshun (恪顺皇贵妃) Titles 1889 1894: Imperial Concubine Zhen (珍嫔 …   Wikipedia

  • Consort music — is an English Renaissance genre of songs for voice accompanied by a group of instruments as a whole or as broken.Consort is the English name for a group of instruments, either all of one type (Full consort), or of different types (broken consort) …   Wikipedia

  • Consort — Con sort (k[o^]n s[^o]rt), n. [L. consore, sortis; con + sors lot, fate, share. See {Sort}.] 1. One who shares the lot of another; a companion; a partner; especially, a wife or husband. Milton. [1913 Webster] He single chose to live, and shunned… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • consort — consortable, adj. consorter, n. consortion, n. n. /kon sawrt/, v. /keuhn sawrt /, n. 1. a husband or wife; spouse, esp. of a reigning monarch. Cf. prince consort, queen consort. 2. one vessel or ship accompanying another. 3. Music. a …   Universalium

  • Consort — Pour les articles homonymes, voir consort (homonymie). Le consort est un ensemble instrumental, soit d instruments de la même famille et de tessitures différentes comme des luths, des violes, des cromornes on parle dans ce cas de whole consort… …   Wikipédia en Français

  • consort — I. noun Etymology: Middle English, from Middle French, from Latin consort , consors partner, sharer, from com + sort , sors lot, share more at series Date: 15th century 1. associate 2. a ship accompanying another 3. spouse compare prince consort …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • consort — con|sort1 [ˈkɔnso:t US ˈka:nso:rt] n [Sense: 1; Date: 1400 1500; : French; Origin: consort, from Latin consors person you share with , from com ( COM ) + sors luck, fate ] [Sense: 2 3; Date: 1500 1600; : French; Origin: consorte, from consort] …   Dictionary of contemporary English

  • consort — consorts, consorting, consorted (The verb is pronounced [[t]kənsɔ͟ː(r)t[/t]]. The noun is pronounced [[t]kɒ̱nsɔː(r)t[/t]].) 1) VERB (disapproval) If you say that someone consorts with a particular person or group, you mean that they spend a lot… …   English dictionary