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''This article is about musical choirs. For other meanings of the word, see Choir (disambiguation).

A choir is a musical ensemble consisting of voices, that is, singers. See the end of this article for other meanings of the word.

Table of contents
1 Structure of choirs
2 Choral music
3 Famous choirs
4 Important choral works

Structure of choirs

Choirs are often led by a conductor or choirmaster. Most often choirs consist of four parts but there is no limit to the number of possible parts. However, other than four, the most common number of parts is three, five, six and eight.

Choirs can sing with or without instrumental accompaniment. Singing without accompaniment is called a cappella singing. When singing with instrumental accompaniment, the accompanying instruments can consist of practically any instruments, one or several. For rehersals, a piano accompaniment is often used even if a different instrumentation is planned for performance.

There exists a large number of different types of choirs, among others:

Choral music

A great number of
composers have written choral works. However, composing instrumental music is an entirely different field than composing vocal music. Inclusion of text and to cater the special capabilities and limitations of the human voice makes composing vocal music in some ways more demanding than composing instrumental music. Due to this difficulty, many of the greatest composers have never composed choral music. Naturally, many composers have their favourite instruments and rarely compose for other types instruments or ensembles, and choral music is in this sense not a special case.

One of the first great choral composers was Claudio Monteverdi (1567 - 1643), a master of counterpoint, who conclusively showed some of what could be done with choirs and many other musical ensembles. Monteverdi, together with Heinrich Schütz (1585-1672), demonstrated how music can support and reinforce the message of the lyrics. They both composed a large number of music for both a cappella choir as well as choirs accompanied by different ensembles.

A century later, Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750) was the next to make his prominent mark in history. Due to his work as a cantor, he came to compose an overwhelming amount of sacred choral music: cantatas, motets, passions and other music. He is also famous for his vast output in chorales, essentially stylistically harmonised hymn-tunes. Bach's influence through his choral writing on the development of classical harmony is not to be underestimated.

Famous choirs

Professional choirs

Amateur choirs

Children's choirs

Important choral works