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A duet is a musical composition for two performers. In classical music, the term is most often used for a composition for two singers or pianists; with other instruments, the word duo can be used. A piece performed by two pianists performing together on the same piano is referred to as "piano duet" or "piano four hands". A piece for two pianists performing together on separate pianos is referred to as a "piano duo".
When Mozart was young, he and his sister Marianne played a duet of his composition at a London concert in 1765. While young, he helped introduce what a duet is. The four-hand, described as a duet, was in many of his compositions. Which also included five sonatas; a set of variations, two performers and one instrument, and a sonata for two pianos. These mark the beginning of duet history. The first published sonata or duet was in 1777.
In the 19th century different combinations of four-hand piano were published in every musical genre. On the radio, a duet was blend with different instruments such as a performance of an orchestra. Arrangements with traditional musical divisions between symphonic and chamber genres, professional and amateur music cultures gendered as masculine and feminine. It brought music intended to the public into a home parlor. The 19th century shows that a duet is used in many different cultures.  In 1913 a duet was combined with the Opera and the traditional Plains Indian ritual. Gertrude Simmons Bonnin from an Indian tribe collaborated with a music teacher, William F. Hanson to produce and stage the combination of Opera with the traditional Plain Indian ritual in a regional performance. Later on before Bonnin's death in 1938, the opera was performed by the New York Opera Guild as opera of the year. The composition of opera presents the troubles of disparate cultures by harmonizing the traditional Native melodies with western civilization. The combination of the two, known as the Grand Opera, provided context that represents varied and complex manifestations of culture. With costumes, make-up, singing, dancing and storytelling it provided aspects of the Plains culture with an orchestral accompaniment and dramatic plot infused elements of the western civilization. As a classically trained musician, Bonnin used her skills to affirm her Sioux cultural identity and to engage the conventions of popular culture. And Hanson used his fondness for Indians and his association with them in an artistic colonialism. The result was an uneasy duet of the two cultures.
"Duet" is also used as a verb for the act of performing a musical duet, or colloquially as a noun to refer to the performers of a duet. The word is also occasionally used in reference to non-musical activities performed together by two people.
- Miller, H.-M.(1943). The Earliest Keyboard Duets. The Journal of the Musical Quarterly,29(4), 438-457.
- Christensen, T. (1999). Four-Hand Piano. Journal of the American Musicological Society, 52(2) 255-298
- Hafen, J. (1998, April 1). A Cultural Duet Zitkala Ša And The Sun Dance. Retrieved from digitalcommons.unl.edu
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