choir


choir
choirlike, adj.
/kwuyeur/, n.
1. a company of singers, esp. an organized group employed in church service.
2. any group of musicians or musical instruments; a musical company, or band, or a division of one: string choir.
3. Archit.
a. the part of a church occupied by the singers of the choir.
b. the part of a cruciform church east of the crossing.
4. (in medieval angelology) one of the orders of angels.
adj.
5. professed to recite or chant the divine office: a choir monk.
v.t., v.i.
6. to sing or sound in chorus.
[1250-1300; ME quer < OF cuer < L chorus CHORUS; r. OE chor choir < L]

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Body of singers with more than one voice to a part.

For many centuries, church choirs sang only plainsong (see Gregorian chant). The relative complexity of early polyphony required solo voices rather than choral performance, but by the 15th century polyphony was being performed chorally. The growth of the secular choir (or chorus) coincided with the beginnings of opera. An oratorio choir is part of a different tradition, which stems from the augmented church choirs used to provide choral portions of a given oratorio, whether performed in or out of church.

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▪ church architecture
 in architecture, area of a church designed to accommodate the liturgical singers, located in the chancel, between the nave and the altar. In some churches the choir is separated from the nave by an ornamental partition called a choir screen, or more frequently by a choir rail.

      Earliest church architecture set no space aside for the clergy who sang the service; but as church ritual became more elaborate, beginning in the 10th century, it required more space for increased numbers of participants. At first the choir contained simple, unattached chairs, but by Gothic times the seats had developed into choir stalls, built-in rows of prayer rests and hinged seats, which, when folded, often revealed misericords—projections used for support during long periods of standing.

      The stalls are usually arranged in two sets of stepped rows along the edges of the choir, facing each other and at right angles to the altar. Gothic craftsmen carved the wooden stalls elaborately—with animal forms, biblical scenes, or abstract designs. Frequently, wooden canopies over each stall, and high arms between them, made each seat resemble a separate little building. Outstanding examples of ornate choir stalls are those at the Convent of St. Thomas in Ávila, Spain, and those designed by Grinling Gibbons (Gibbons, Grinling) in St. Paul's Cathedral, London.

      Many modern churches have singers situated in a “choir loft,” or on a balcony.

music
 body of singers with more than one voice to a part. A mixed choir is normally composed of women and men, whereas a male choir consists either of boys and men or entirely of men. In the United States, the term boys' choir is often applied to a choir in which the treble parts are sung by boys instead of women.

      Choirs have taken part in church (liturgical music) services from the earliest times, but for many centuries their role was confined to singing plainsong in unison. Such choirs varied considerably in size and style, but the choir of a well-endowed abbey or royal chapel might have 50 or 60 trained voices. In medieval England a system allowing a canon to appoint a substitute led to the formation of self-governing colleges of vicars choral, who were usually ordained deacons or subdeacons. Below them were clerks of the choir, also in minor orders and sometimes called altarists, or secondaries.

      In cathedrals (cathedral), boys were trained by the precentor, or choir director, to take part not only in the singing but also in the liturgy. Boys with intelligence and good voices could progress as far as the rank of vicar choral, and as time went on they enjoyed lodgings and privileges, as well as tuition in subjects other than music.

      Apart from plainsong, there was no choral singing in the early church. When polyphony (multipart music) first came into use, its relative complexity demanded soloists as interpreters. About 1430, however, Italian manuscripts began to hint at choral singing of straightforward polyphony with the direction that sections in three parts were to be sung by the chorus, or all voices, in contrast to sections in two parts, marked either unus (one voice to a part) or duo (duet for solo voices). The alternation of soloists and chorus eventually led to the use of two choirs, one on each side of the church or (as at St. Mark's, Venice) in the galleries, so that psalms, canticles, and even masses could be sung antiphonally (i.e., by contrasting choirs). Music for divided choirs, or cori spezzati, was developed in the early 16th century and reached a peak of excellence in the late 16th- and early 17th-century works of Giovanni Gabrieli.

      The growth of secular choirs, sometimes called choruses, coincided largely with the beginnings of opera, in which choruses have generally taken some part. Opera-house choruses normally employ professional singers. An oratorio choir, on the other hand, is part of a different tradition, which stems from the augmented church choirs used to provide choral portions of a given oratorio, whether performed in or out of church. Oratorio choirs thus formed an outlet for amateur singers.

      Handel presented his oratorios and operas with a choir of medium size, but the Handel Commemoration in 1784 in London called for as large a body of singers as could be conveniently found: 274. This choir, however, was dwarfed by the 2,000 singers who participated in the first Handel Festival at the Crystal Palace, London, in 1857. In later years of this festival the number crept up to well over 3,000. Even the concerts monstres of the French composer Hector Berlioz (Berlioz, Hector) rarely required a choir of more than 500. Berlioz stated that he heard at St. Paul's Cathedral in 1851, at the anniversary meeting of the Charity Children, a choir of 6,500. From meetings such as these, beginning with those of the Three Choirs of Gloucester, Worcester, and Hereford (1724 or perhaps earlier), developed the local choral festivals widely popular in the 20th century. Despite such large assemblages for special events, modern professional recording choirs number about 30.

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Universalium. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • choir — [ ʃwar ] v. intr. <conjug. : je chois, tu chois, il choit, ils choient (les autres personnes manquent au présent); je chus, nous chûmes. Chu, chue au p. p. Formes vieillies : je choirai ou cherrai, nous choirons ou cherrons> • cheoir 1080;… …   Encyclopédie Universelle

  • choir — (choir), je chois, tu chois, il choit ; chu, chue, il se conjugue avec l auxiliaire être : ils sont chus ; les autres temps et les autres personnes ne sont pas usités ; cependant Bossuet a dit : il chut, et on pourrait se servir de ce temps ; on… …   Dictionnaire de la Langue Française d'Émile Littré

  • Choir — Choir, n. [OE. quer, OF. cuer, F. ch[oe]ur, fr. L. chorus a choral dance, chorus, choir, fr. Gr. ?, orig. dancing place; prob. akin to ? inclosure, L. hortus garden, and E. yard. See {Chorus}.] 1. A band or organized company of singers,… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • choir — [ kwaır ] noun count * 1. ) a group of singers who perform together, for example in a church or school: the church/cathedral/school choir choir practice in a choir: He sings in a church choir. 2. ) the part of a church where the choir sits …   Usage of the words and phrases in modern English

  • Choir! — ちょいあ! Genre Comedy, Slice of life, Yuri …   Wikipedia

  • choir — CHOIR. v. n. Il ne se dit guère qu à l infinitif, et au participe Chu. Tomber, être porté de haut en bas par son propre poids, ou par impulsion. Prenez garde de choir. Se laisser choir. On lui donna un coup qui le fit choir. Chu, ue. participe.… …   Dictionnaire de l'Académie Française 1798

  • choir — c.1300, queor part of the church where the choir sings, from O.Fr. cuer, quer choir of a church (13c., Mod.Fr. choeur), from L. chorus choir (see CHORUS (Cf. chorus)). Meaning band of singers is c.1400, quyre. Re spelled mid 17c. on Latin model …   Etymology dictionary

  • choir — [kwīr] n. [< ME quere < OFr cuer < ML chorus, choir < L (see CHORUS); sp. altered under infl. of L] 1. a group of singers organized and trained to sing together, esp. in a church 2. the part of a church they occupy, as a chancel or… …   English World dictionary

  • choir — [kwaıə US kwaır] n [Date: 1200 1300; : Old French; Origin: cuer, from Latin chorus; CHORUS1] 1.) a group of people who sing together for other people to listen to →↑choral ▪ He joined a church choir at the age of eight. 2.) [usually singular] the …   Dictionary of contemporary English

  • Choir — • Church architecture term. Strictly speaking, the choir is that part of the church where the stalls of the clergy are • A body of singers entrusted with the musical parts of the Church service, and organized and instructed for that purpose… …   Catholic encyclopedia

  • choir — ► NOUN 1) an organized group of singers, especially one that takes part in church services. 2) the part of a large church between the altar and the nave, used by the choir and clergy. ORIGIN Old French quer, from Latin chorus (see CHORUS(Cf.… …   English terms dictionary