chorus vs. choir

Discussion in 'English Only' started by karadar, Jun 2, 2009.

  1. What is the difference between choir and chorus? Thanks!
  2. rrose17

    rrose17 Senior Member

    Canada, English
    A choir is a group of singers, who sing together, very often, but not always, in a church or and sing songs with a religious theme.
    A chorus is usually the part of a song that repeats. A chorus can also refer to a group of singers, usually in a theatrical setting, but this is used less often.
    Hope this helps.
  3. Tonza Senior Member

    Chicago, US
    English - U.S.
    I agree, except with the suggestion that chorus is used less often. I think they're just about the same. As a classical musician, I hear chorus more often than choir to describe the group of singers. As rrose said, it is usually in a theatrical setting, as in the group of singers that performs for an opera (not the soloists). It's also common as the title of a regular group, like the Chicago Symphony Orchestra Chorus. On the other hand, there's also the Chicago Children's Choir.
  4. rrose17

    rrose17 Senior Member

    Canada, English
    Tonza, you are right. The more I think about it the more I see why others may find it hard to know when to use one or the other. To me they are not interchangeable, but I suppose finally it's very idiomatic.
    In school there was always a choir. This was a group that met to sing together, usually with only a piano or a guitar as accompaniment. And as an adult you might be part of a similar group that would call itself a choir. My mistake, it doesn't HAVE to be religious.
    Also in school, very often there was a musical (a play with singing) every year.
    You could ask your friend
    "Did you get a big part in the play?"
    "Nah, I'm just in the chorus." meaning he only has a singing role as part of a group, and no solos.

    Whew! I don't know if that's clearer, or not?
    Last edited: Jun 3, 2009
  5. Thanks a lot! Only to complete the forum I found on Th Oxford Dictionary of Music the following quotation:
    " The choir or chorus is a body of singers performing as a group. The English language appears to be alone in perpetuatine a useful distinction between “choir” and “chorus”. The latter is commonly used to denote larger groups of singers, especially amateur enthusiasts, but also professionals in the theatre and opera house. “Choir” is applied mostly to smaller bodies of singers: to ecclesiastical groups and to small, expert groups called “chamber choirs”. A mixed– voice choir (or chorus) is one of women and men; a male-voice choir is of men or boys and men; a double choir is one arranged in two groups". Thank you very much to everybody!
  6. Caninbar New Member

    English - Canadian
    CHOIR refers to a group of singers which usually has some religious connection, e.g. church choir, Mormon Tabernacle Choir, etc. Chorus is generally a professional group of singers, e.g. opera chorus, children's chorus, gay men's chorus. An exception would be the Vienna Boy's Choir. So follow these guidelines but be careful for exceptions.
  7. london calling Senior Member

    I have sung in several choirs over the years, none of which had any connection whatsoever with the Church.;)

    Welcome, by the way.:)
  8. curiosone

    curiosone Senior Member

    Romagna, Italy
    AE - hillbilly ;)
    Well I sang in choruses (my schools always had choruses), and was in a youth chorus, whose adult counterpart was called a choral club. And we often sang in the choir (which also means the part of the church where the singers and musicians grouped), which in my parish was upstairs from where the congregation sat). So choir (for me) does have a more church-connected connotation than chorus does. My chorus sang both in the cathedral (with the choral club) and on television (by ourselves). We also gave concerts (not church-connected). So I can also agree that the term "chorus" is connected more to theatre or to performances (outside church) than "choir" might be (this may well be a BE/AE difference). And the archbishop seemed to agree with this concept, as he always invited the congregation to applaud us, at the end of Mass (the only difference was that we weren't expected to sing encores).
  9. dejudicibus

    dejudicibus Senior Member

    Rome, Italy
    Italian (Italy)
    Just a question: in Jesus Christ Superstar, the original soundtrack, if you look at the rear of the LP cover, you will see that in the Overture and other pieces it is used the term CHOIR, whereas in Superstar it is used the term CHORUS. So, in the same album, both terms are used. Why?
  10. rrose17

    rrose17 Senior Member

    Canada, English
    I couldn't be sure without seeing the liner notes of this very vintage album but to me the choir refers to the group of singers singing together and the chorus to the part of the song that repeats itself. (Jesus Christ Who are you what did you sacrifice etc)
  11. dejudicibus

    dejudicibus Senior Member

    Rome, Italy
    Italian (Italy)
    Well, I thought that the part of the song that repeats itself be called refrain.
  12. rrose17

    rrose17 Senior Member

    Canada, English
    You're right, both words have the same meaning. I think refrain is a bit dated now, and chorus is the word almost always used.

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