Choir vs. Chorus – What’s the Difference?

 

Several types of groups can perform music, from solo electronic DJs, to pipe bands, to philharmonic orchestras, to choirs. But what’s the difference between a choir and a chorus? Don’t both of these words describe a large group of singers?

Yes, but there are also important distinctions, including the makeup of the group and the types of performers it includes. Continue reading for a detailed explanation of these two musical terms.

What is the Difference Between Choir and Chorus?

In this article, I will compare choir vs. chorus. I will use each of these words in example sentences, so you can see them in their proper context.

I will also discuss a memory tool that you can use to help you decide whether choir or chorus is more appropriate for your own piece.

When to Use Choir

choir versus chorusWhat does choir mean? Choir is a noun that has several meanings. In one sense, it means a group of singers. Choir can also refer to the section of a building where a choir performs. In some cases, the word also means a host of angels.

Here are some examples,

  • Aubrey joined a choir at her local church.
  • The rehearsal was interrupted by bats in the rafters of the choir.
  • My ascent to the throne of heaven will be accompanied by a choir of angels.
  • A Westlake senior, Lana talked about participating in choir at the high school, as well as playing soccer and basketball in middle school, Ms. Picone said. –The Wall Street Journal

In most cases, choir is limited to singers, no dancers or musicians.

Choir is also found in the common phrase preaching to the choir. This phrase means you are talking or “preaching” to someone or a group of people who already agree with you.

  • In order to get ahead, you need to work hard and stay determined. But, you all already know that; I am preaching to the choir.

When to Use Chorus

Definition of chorus definition of choir definitionWhat does chorus mean? Chorus is another noun. It also has several meanings, which include a group of performers, which may include singers and dancers, and the repeated refrain of a song.

The sentences below are examples,

  • I’m trying to sing along to a new hit song, but I can only remember the words to the chorus.
  • The Community Chorus performs song and dance numbers every Sunday in the city park.
  • The chorus of this song is wistful and nostalgic, but the lyrics to the verses are optimistic and cheerful.
  • Being in City Ballet’s corps is not like being a member of a chorus line, or a backup singer. –The New York Times

In some cases, chorus can refer to more than just singers. Since it refers to a group of performers, it is common in theater for a chorus to include singers, dancers, musicians, etc.

Choir vs. Chorus: Remember the Difference

Define chorus and define choirBoth chorus and choir are nouns, and they can each refer to a group of singers.

A choir comprises just vocalists, while a chorus might also include dancers or other performers. Choir also refers to an angelic host.

Chorus refers to a repeated structural element in some pieces of music. Choir does not have this sense, so if you are referring to a repeated section in a song, chorus is your only option.

Also, chorus has a figurative use that choir does not. If someone makes an unpopular decision, he or she might face a chorus of criticism. In this sense, chorus is alluding to the repetitive aspect of a chorus. In this sense, choir would not be appropriate.

Since chorus and song are both spelled with the letter S, it should be easy to remember that a chorus can refer to a part of a song.

Summary

Is it choir or chorus? Choir and chorus are nouns. Either can refer to a group of singers, but a chorus can include other types of performers, and sometimes refers to a repeated section of a song. A choir can also be an angelic host.

Since chorus and song both contain an S, it should be easy to remember that a chorus is a section of a song, as well as a group of performers.

Should you require additional assistance, be sure to refer back to this article.

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