The terms "chorus" and "choir" or most often interchangeable. They both commonly refer to an ensemble of singers that perform.
If you aren't sure which term to use for your group of singers, no matter how big or small, it really makes no difference, and it is up to you to see what term sounds better with the name of your group.
For example, you can have a group of singers be a chamber choir or a chamber chorus.
The terms choir and chorus both originate from the music of ancient Greece in the 2nd century BC.
The original Greek chorus or choirs would sing their part in the overall works of Greek dramas. These first choirs would often sing or chant in unison without having any harmony parts.
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While this is not a definite rule, many people assume that religious groups gathering to sing are more often referred to as choirs rather than choruses.
Churches have choir stands where singers perform, and the chorus is more often referred to in a theatre or concert setting that involves secular music.
Regardless, I have seen church groups refer to themselves as choruses, so this is not a rule that is set in stone for sure.
Some dictionaries, including the Collins dictionary, refer to a chorus as a group of singers that can also include dancers and instrumentalists. Going back to the history of Greek choruses, in the theatrical culture, singing and dancing were often grouped together.
The word choros or "khoros" actually translates to dance in the Greek language.
People also like to call a larger group of singers a chorus, while they call a smaller group of singers a choir. Again, none of these rules are set in stone, so these terms can still be interchangeable.
A chorus in music is also a section of a song that is repeated after the verses.
This is also referred to as a refrain in a song, but the terms "refrain" and "chorus" can also have separate meanings due to some technicalities that you can read more about here.
The chorus of a song is often the part that stands out and has layered vocals, which is a reference to the parts of a song where a chorus of people will come in to highlight and repeat the most emphasized section.
The chorus of a song also often has harmonies and more instrumentation than the verse sections of a song.
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So while the terms "chorus" and "choir" are often used interchangeably, there are some subtle differences in their usage.
Ultimately, it comes down to personal preference and what sounds better with the name of your group.
In modern usage, religious groups often refer to themselves as choirs, while the term "chorus" is more commonly associated with secular music in theatrical or concert settings.
However, these distinctions are not absolute, as some church groups may still identify as choruses. Additionally, a chorus can refer to a group of singers that may include dancers and instrumentalists, while a choir is often associated with a smaller ensemble.
Finally, in the context of a song, the chorus is a repeated section that stands out with layered vocals, harmonies, and increased instrumentation.
Ultimately, it's important to recognize that the terms "chorus" and "choir" are not rigidly defined and can be used in many situations. The specific usage may depend on cultural norms, regional preferences, or individual interpretation.
Remember, these terms can be fluid and interchangeable, and what matters most is the joy of singing and performing together as a group.
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