|Table of contents|
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:
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.
Important choral works