How many players in a quartet?

UPDATE 11th MAY: It turns out the Times feature we refer to was premature. Portico Quartet have posted today on Twitter

“We’ll be making an announcement this week. Just putting everything together with a new member.”

Hang on. A feature about The Portico Quartet in the Times on Thursday by John Bungey (not available online other than via the Times paywall, not mentioned on the band’s website or blog) has a picture of Messrs Wyllie, Bellamy and Fitzpatrick (but not Mulvey-above) entitled “Quartet of three thinkers,” and captioned thus:

“Portico trio.”

It explains that hang player Mick Mulvey has left the band after a final appearance yesterday for the first half of their gig at the Cheltenham Jazz Festival. “He’s leaving to become a singer-songwriter.”

The article concludes by raising the question of whether the new band with less hang and more electronics will continue to attract success.

Bungey writes: “As the band move from sunny musical climes to somewhere darker and stranger, they are about to find out.”

The question is intended purely philosophically, of course. But how many players

-are there
-should there be
-do there need to be

in a quartet?

Categories: miscellaneous

5 replies »

  1. They can still be considered a quartet if you think of the fourth member as the group gestalt itself..

  2. Got to be four in a quartet. But that doesn't make it one better than a trio or two worse than a sextet – it's not the size that matters after all!

  3. Portico is joining a long and noble tradition alongside the three-member Melody Four (Coxhill, Coe, Beresford), Keith Tippett's Centipede (which had more than fifty members, hence more than 100 legs) and the seven-member politico-rock outfit Stormy Six. Down with the tyranny of numbers!

  4. Thank you anonymous for what sounds like an update.

    Times Newspapers published John Bungey's story which reported as fact – twice in the article – that Portico were a now a trio.

    My piece was clearly reporting the facts as stated in that article, quoting it as the source.

    The Times story will have been far more widely read than this site.

    Perhaps The Times will be publishing a retraction of their story…..

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