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chorus, in Greek drama
chorus,in the drama of ancient Greece. Originally the chorus seems to have arisen from the singing of the dithyrambdithyramb
, in ancient Greece, hymn to the god Dionysus, choral lyric with exchanges between the leader and the chorus. It arose, probably, in the extemporaneous songs of the Dionysiac festivals and was developed (according to tradition, by Arion) into the literary form to be
..... Click the link for more information. , and the dithyrambic chorus allegedly became a true dramatic chorus when ThespisThespis
, fl. 534 B.C., of Icaria in Attica. In Greek tradition, he was the inventor of tragedy. Almost nothing is known of his life or works. He is supposed to have modified the dithyramb (which had been, in effect, exchanges between the leader and the chorus) by introducing an
..... Click the link for more information. in the 6th cent. B.C. introduced the actor. First the chorus as a participating actor tied the histrionic interludes together; later, as a narrator, it commented on the action and divided it, creating acts. And as tragedy developed the chorus shrank in size and actors increased in number. Aeschylus began with a chorus of 50, but the number was soon decreased to 12. Sophocles used a chorus of 15. In the 3d cent. B.C. the comic chorus contained only seven persons and in the 2d cent. B.C. only four, the tragic chorus having disappeared altogether. The chorus had ceased to play a vital part in the drama; Euripides assigned to it lyrics not necessarily integrated with the action. Ultimately it was dispensed with in comedy as well.
chorus, in music
chorus,in music, large group of singers performing in concert; a group singing liturgical music is a choir. The term chorus may also be used for a group singing or dancing together in a musical or in ballet. By extension it can also mean the refrain of a song. Choral music stems from religious and folk music, both usually having interspersed singing. The chorus as a musical form is integral to opera, and since the 19th cent. it has also been integrated into compositions such as the symphony. Some modern choral groups, such as the Welsh singers, groups presenting spirituals, and the Don Cossack singers, continue the folk-chorus tradition. Others are intentionally formed to present all sorts of group vocal works. Choral societies grew numerous in the 19th cent., especially in Great Britain, the United States, and Germany. Some are created for special purposes, such as festival choruses, many oratorio societies, social and school groups (including gleeglee,
in music, an unaccompanied song for three or more solo voices in harmony. The word glee [Anglo-Saxon, gligge or gliw=music] has been associated with vocal music from the time of the medieval gleeman or jongleur.
..... Click the link for more information. clubs), and the Bach Choir of Bethlehem, Pa. In the United States, two men who did much to promote choral singing in the 19th cent. were William BillingsBillings, William,
1746–1800, American hymn composer, b. Boston. A tanner by trade, he was one of the earliest American-born composers. He wrote popular hymns and sacred choruses of great vitality using simple imitative counterpoint—hence their designation as
..... Click the link for more information. and Theodore Thomas. After 1940 there was a marked increase in the popularity of choral groups, usually organized for stage performance; some of these specialize in concert versions of opera.
in drama, a group of actors that was an essential component of Greek dramas of the fifth century B.C. The classical Greek drama was based on an alternation of choral odes and utterances by individual actors. In the tragedies of Aeschylus the chorus consisted of 12 persons, in those of Sophocles, of approximately 15 persons, and in comedies, of up to 24 persons. The chorus was selected and paid by the choragus, or leader of the chorus, who was a wealthy Athenian citizen; it was rehearsed by the chorodidascalos, or the teacher of the chorus.
The importance of the chorus in the Greek theater was associated with the popular nature of the theater: the chorus expressed the reactions of the spectators to the plays’s events, serving as a unique vox populi; examples were Aeschylus’ The Persians and Agamemnon and Sophocles’ Antigone. The chorus also functioned as a character in the play, as in Aeschylus’ The Suppliants and The Eumenides and in the early comedies of Aristophanes.
As the importance of individual actors increased in drama, that of the chorus decreased; in the plays of Euripides, for example, the chorus sang or recited mainly lyric meditations. In the late comedies of Aristophanes, and subsequently in the comedies of Menander, the choral odes were replaced by interludes and dances performed between the acts and unrelated to the plot.
(1) A body of singers. A chorus may be composed of women, men, or children or of a combination of them, and may be large or small. A mixed chorus consists of four groups: sopranos, altos, tenors, and basses; the sopranos and altos are women and the tenors and basses are men. Each group may be subdivided into several subgroups, called divisi. The minimum possible number of singers in a small chorus is 12, with three singers in each group, thus permitting consecutive breathing. The maximum number of singers in a large group usually ranges from 100 to 120, with a proportional distribution of singers of each group in order to produce an even overall sound. A chorus may function as the sole performer of a work or may be one of the elements in the performance of a symphony, opera, or operetta. A chorus sings either without accompaniment (a cappella) or with instrumental accompaniment.
(2) A musical work written for choral performance. It may be an individual work or a part of another work, such as an opera, mass, oratorio, or cantata. Choruses are sometimes used in works ordinarily written for instruments alone; examples are Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony and several of Mahler’s symphonies. Choruses may also be used in ballets, for example, Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker and Ravel’s Daphnis el Chloé.
(3) Doubled or tripled strings in string instruments.