What’s the Plural of Concerto: Understanding Musical Terms

  • A concerto is a classical music composition for a solo instrument accompanied by an orchestra.
  • Concertos” and “concerti” are both correct plural forms of “concerto”.
  • Usage of either plural form depends on context, with “concerti” reflecting the Italian origin.

The pluralization of Italian-derived nouns in English often follows the original language’s rule, leading to two acceptable plural forms. The acceptable plural forms of “concerto” are “concertos” and “concerti”. The former follows the regular English convention of adding an “s” or “es” to create plurals, while the latter adheres to the Italian grammar rules. Both plural forms are widely accepted and used, although “concerti” may be preferred in more formal contexts or to reflect the word’s Italian origin.

What’s the Plural of Concerto?

Interestingly, the plural of concerto can be formed in two different ways:

  1. Concertos
  2. Concerti

The use of either form depends on context and personal preference. However, “concertos” is more commonly used in English-speaking contexts.

Preferred Plural FormContext
ConcertosEnglish-speaking contexts
ConcertiFollowing Italian tradition

Examples of Usage:

  • The composer’s complete concertos are being performed this season.
  • A collection of Vivaldi’s concerti is available at the music library.

The origin of the word “concerto” stems from the Italian language, thus the Italian plural form “concerti.” However, the Anglicized “concertos” has become acceptable as the traditional Italian language influence on musical terminology has lessened in English.

Origin LanguagePlural FormUsage Note
ItalianConcertiPreferred when adhering to Italian musical traditions.
EnglishConcertosMore commonly used and recognized in English.

Concerto: Singular or Plural?

Plural Form of Concerto:

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Italian OriginEnglish Adaptation

Thus, “concerti” is the plural form following traditional Italian. However, “concertos” is the form that has been Anglicized and is also accepted in English-speaking contexts.

When to Use Each Form:

  • Concerti: This form is often preferred when referring to a collection of classical pieces or when intending to maintain the Italianate flavor of the original term.
  • Concertos: This term is widely used in English conversations and writings about music, aligning with standard English pluralization rules.

Usage Examples:

  • The orchestra performed a series of Bach’s concerti throughout the festival.
  • She has mastered several Mozart concertos, impressing her audiences each time.

Concerto: Definition and Meaning

A concerto is a classical music composition characterized by an intricate dialogue between a solo instrument or a group of solo instruments and an orchestra. Originating from the Italian word for “concert,” the term concerto implies a harmonious arrangement. It usually comprises three movements with contrasting tempos: fast, slow, and then fast again. This musical form allows soloists to exhibit their virtuosity while being supported and complemented by the full orchestra.

FirstLively and fast
SecondSlow and lyrical
ThirdBright and brisk
  • Common solo instruments in concertos include:
    • Violin
    • Piano
    • Flute
    • Cello

The plural of concerto can be both concertos and concerti, with the latter being the Italian form._SCANCODE_HERE

SingularPlural (English)Plural (Italian)

Nouns Only Used in the Plural Form

Examples of Nouns Used Only in the Plural Form

Often, nouns that are inherently plural in nature describe clothing, tools, or paired objects. These are a few examples:

  • Scissors
  • Pants
  • Glasses (referring to eyewear)
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Here is a brief table highlighting some of these nouns:

GogglesUsed for eye protection
JeansA type of clothing

Characteristics of Plurale Tantum

Such nouns are known as plurale tantum, a Latin term meaning “plural only.” Interestingly, these nouns take a plural verb despite there being no singular version. For instance:

  • The glasses are on the table.
  • Her jeans are blue.

Distinction in Other Languages

Consider these nouns and their use in sentences:

  • The shorts fit perfectly.
  • The tweezers are precise for this task.

Examples of Concerto in Context

Let’s explore a few contexts in which the term can be applied:

Singular Use:

  • The concert was headlined by Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 4.
  • A cellist prepared to perform Elgar’s Cello Concerto in E minor.

Plural Use:

  • The orchestra’s season features several concertos by various composers.
  • She has mastered concertos from both the Baroque and Romantic periods.

In Sentences

Sentence ExampleContextual Usage
Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto is a masterpiece.Demonstrating the singular form.
Bach’s Brandenburg Concertos are widely beloved.Presenting the plural form in a proper noun.

Usage in Music Literature

  • Critics praised the pianist’s interpretation of Chopin’s concertos.
  • Recent publications detail the evolution of the violin concerto through history.

Examples of Concertos/Concerti in Context

Antonio Vivaldi famously composed “The Four Seasons” (Le quattro stagioni), which are four violin concerti, each giving musical expression to a season of the year:

SeasonConcerto Title
SpringLa primavera (Spring)
SummerL’estate (Summer)
AutumnL’autunno (Autumn)
WinterL’inverno (Winter)

Ludwig van Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 5 in E♭ major, Op. 73, known as the “Emperor Concerto,” is one of the composer’s most revered works. It showcases the dynamic interplay between soloist and orchestra, creating a powerful musical narrative.

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Johannes Brahms has also contributed significantly to this genre with his two piano concerti:

  • Piano Concerto No. 1 in D minor, Op. 15
  • Piano Concerto No. 2 in B♭ major, Op. 83

In these works, Brahms explores the full expressive potential of the piano against the rich backdrop of the orchestra.

Origin of the Word Concerto

The term “concerto” has a rich historical tapestry woven into its usage within the realm of classical music. Concerto is derived from the Latin word ‘concertare’, which means “to contend, contest, or dispute”. This root accurately reflects the concerto’s nature where there is an interplay between the soloist and the ensemble. Italian musical terminology played a significant role in the naming of this musical form.


In the Baroque period, the Italian word ‘concerto’ began to take on its musical significance. ‘Concerto’ encapsulates the concept of collaboration, to “arrange by agreement” or “bring into a relationship”. The essence of the word conveyed the harmonious opposition of sounds and orchestral arrangement.

Evolution to Musical Term

Over time, ‘concerto’ evolved to signify a specific musical composition involving a dialogue between one or more solo instruments and an orchestra. This divergence keeps the spirit of adversarial collaboration alive, depicting the dynamic contrast in sound and technique.

Latin OriginItalian InfluenceMusical Usage
concertareto strive togetherConcerto
  (plural concerti/concertos)

The word’s journey, from its Latin roots to the Italian adaptation, all the way to its current application, illustrates a deep connection to the performative aspect of music, highlighting the ‘concerted’ effort of the instruments in creating a unified performance.


  1. Definition of concerto.
  2. Origin of the word concerto.

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