Under a choir (from Greek χορός choros " dance floor ", " dance ", "dancing crowd " ) is understood in the music a community of singing, in which every voice is multiply occupied. In addition, the choir is the name for a aufzuführendes of this ensemble piece.

The term choir in today's importance as a sound body imprinted itself in the 17th and 18th centuries. Until then, he called not just a group of singers, but a group of playing instruments in general.

Types of choirs

There are several criteria for the characterization of choirs. They are not limited and often overlapping. There is no standard taxonomy.

  • Mixed Choir: All voice types are represented, so both women 's and men's voices. This includes boys' choirs, in which the tenor and bass are busy
  • Choir consisting, for example, women's choir, children's choir ( in the same tone of voice as a women's choir), male choir
  • Number of singers, including chamber choir ( about 15 to 30 members) or large choir. Are the voices only solo or at most two times occupied, so the voices do not blend in groups, one speaks of a vocal ensemble
  • Claim to artistic quality, for example, Concert Choir, Folk Choir
  • Function or institution, such as church choir ( choir ), glee club, Radio Choir, Opera Chorus, Studio Chorus, Academy of Music, Philharmonic Choir, school choir, carolers, Gauchor, show choir, police choir, Bundeswehr choir, high school choir, Academic Choir, company choir, Landesjugendchor, integrative Kantorei
  • Style, for example Schola, Madrigal Choir, Oratorio Choir, shanty choir, pop choir, gospel choir, barbershop choir, jazz choir
  • Represented clients, for example, children's choir, girls choir, boys' choir, youth choir, senior choir, choir workers, gay choir, Lesbian Choir, Franco-German Choir

There are many choirs that the name of their favorite composers appropriating, as the many Bach choirs exemplify.

Choir Instrumentation

Singing with the same vocal ranges are combined into vocal groups. The division of vocal groups is determined by the piece to be carried forward and is called occupation. In a piece of different occupations may occur. To illustrate the classification of vocal groups whose initial letters are usually written one after the other and communicated this shortcut in the context of the track title.

SATB - Standard Instrumentation Mixed Choirs

Usually, the female voices in the high soprano and the deeper Alt- able, the men voices are divided into the high tenor and deep bass position in a mixed choir. The abbreviation for this standard instrumentation is SATB. The usual solo singing Timm intermediate layers mezzo-soprano and baritone are very rare in the choral music.

Stimmteilung and choir division

Each voice can be shared internally and independently of other voices again. The first voice is often higher and the second lower. The abbreviation of the letter of the voice is doubled.

  • SSAATTBB: Soprano I / II, Alto I / II, Tenor I / II, Bass I / II ( eight -part mixed chorus, for example, to find in romantic choral music)
  • SSATB: Soprano I / II, Alto, Tenor, Bass ( five-part piece split- soprano)

Further subdivisions are possible, but rare.

Divides the choir choirs in part, shall be divided in the abbreviation. Doppelchörigkeit is a typical occupation in Baroque music (examples: Venetian multiple choirs and some motets by Johann Sebastian Bach). In John Cage division of range ( ambitus ) of the votes does not matter ( a soprano in choir so I do not sing higher than a soprano in choir II); Double choirs are usually formed vocally balanced.

  • SATB / SATB Soprano I, Alt I, Tenor I, Bass I, Soprano II, Alto II, Tenor II, Bass II ( double chorus, in contrast to the above described eight-part mixed choir ).

Already since the early Baroque choirs were also divided into more than two choirs ( see also Venetian polychorality ). For example, going from a few pieces of the Psalms of David ( 1619) by Heinrich Schütz of four choirs, of which certain voices or choirs can be performed instrumental in case of need.

Other cast forms

  • SAMST: soprano, alto, male voice ( reduced version of SATB, often the lack of men in choirs owed ​​)
  • Boys or women's choral ensembles SSAA: Soprano I / II, Alto I / II
  • SSA: Soprano I / II, Old
  • SAA: Soprano, Alto I / II
  • TTBB: Tenor I / II, Bass I / II
  • TTB: Tenor I / II, Bass
  • TBB: tenor, bass I / II


In addition to the common musical practice, there are special forms, which are due to historical models:

  • Participation of high male voices ( countertenor ) in the soprano ( " treble ") and / or Alt.
  • Historical performance practice, theories, according to which certain choral works of the late Middle Ages, the Renaissance and Baroque in the voices (ie only with a singer ) to occupy basically solo.


The exact number of choirs and singers in Germany can only be estimated, since many choirs belong to any organization and, for example, the school choir work is not systematically recorded. Secured numbers, there are therefore only of the choir associations ( German Choral Association, Association of German choirs of St. Cecilia Association, Choral Association in the Evangelical Church in Germany ) which start from 1,790,000 people in 45,000 German choirs. After further estimated 3.3 million people in 61,000 choirs are active. To that extent, therefore, sing about 2-3% of the total German population in a choir. As the oldest mixed choir in the world, founded in 1791 the Sing-Akademie zu Berlin is valid.

Split up by division, the following picture:

  • 45.2% - mixed choirs
  • 30.9% - Children 's and Youth Choirs
  • 15.9% - men's choirs
  • 8% - Female Choirs


Boys Choir

Gospel Choir

Chamber Choir


Symphonic Choir

Integrative Kantorei