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.
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.
The word choir originated from Middle English quer, quere, from Old French quer, from Latin chorus (see chorus). The spelling change in the 17th century was due to association with Latin chorus and modern French choeur. The word chorus originated in mid-16th century (denoting a character speaking the prologue of a play): from Latin, from Greek khoros.
Choir as noun:
Chorus as noun:
Strong guitar-driven songs with big, big choruses.
There was a growing chorus of complain.
Chorus as verb:
"‘Morning, Sister,’ the nurses chorused".
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. 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.