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A piece of music in two or more voice-parts without independent accompaniment. In theory, the term can encompass forms such as the glee and the madrigal but in fact usually refers to small-scale secular pieces from the romantic period, for unaccompanied choral singing, in which homophonic writing is the norm. There are a few sacred examples, such as Sullivan's Five Sacred Partsongs (1871). The genre gained popularity in England in the nineteenth century with the growth of amateur choral societies which tended to replace the more exclusive Glee Clubs. Partsongs are usually single entities, but there do exist lengthy multi-sectional works, possibly intended as competitive showpieces, that are susceptible to no other definition. Other languages have no exact equivalent of the term: this may be a reflection of its breadth and inexactitude in all countries where partsongs flourish.

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