By continuing your navigation on this site, you accept the use of cookies to offer you contents and adapted services. Legal Notice.
Sentence to think about :  In the busy world of show business, it is not necessary to be a good musician to be familiar with the music.  Pierre Dac
Sentence to think about :  I am not a musician, but I love music passionately, and if air touches me, it amuses me, I listen with delight, I will not consider whether the music is French or Italian, I think Just as there is only one.  Carlo Goldoni
Sentence to think about :  That you become a teacher, scholar, or musician, have respect for the "sense", but do not imagine it is taught.  Hermann Hesse
Sentence to think about :  To make a bad musician, it takes at least five years of study. As for making a bad actor, it only takes ten minutes.  Coluche
Sentence to think about :  The musician is someone who can be relied on to provide reassurance to the neighbor, but it is also a reminder of what human excellence.  Yehudi Menuhin
Sentence to think about :  In the artistic hierarchy, the birds are the greatest musicians that exist on our planet.  Olivier Messiaen
Sentence to think about :  The music is the soul in harmony with all that exists.  Oscar Wilde
Sentence to think about :  The vase gives form to the emptiness, and music to silence.  Georges Braque
Sentence to think about :  What good attendance Plato, when a saxophone can also do us a glimpse of another world ?  Emil Michel Cioran
Sentence to think about :  Without music, life would be a mistake.  Friedrich Nietzsche
Sentence to think about :  We do not sell music. We share it.  Leonard Bernstein
Sentence to think about :  The more one knows about music, the less one is able to say something worthwhile.  Patrick Süskind
Sentence to think about :  The opera is opera, the symphony is the symphony, and I do not think it is nice to dance with the orchestra.  Giuseppe Verdi
Sentence to think about :  Mass of love - it seems that music is that for women.  Edmond et Jules de Goncourt
Sentence to think about :  There is no music more enjoyable than the variations of tunes.  Joseph Joubert
Sentence to think about :  Music is a higher revelation than all wisdom and philosophy.  Ludwig van Beethoven
Sentence to think about :  The real music is silence, and all notes are framed by silence.  Miles Davis
Sentence to think about :  The music, the most beautiful religion in the world where we are not threatened or promised.  Minou Drouet
Sentence to think about :  Jazz is what allows us to escape from everyday life.  Stéphane Grappelli
Sentence to think about :  The music deserves a second language compulsory in all schools in the world.  Paul Carvel
Sentence to think about :  Music gives a soul to our hearts and wings to thought.  Platon
Sentence to think about :  The beauty of music - like light - is that of speed, mobility, elusive.  Jean-Michel Jarre
Sentence to think about :  You do not need a brain to listen to music.  Luciano Pavarotti
Sentence to think about :  Music should humbly seek to please, the extreme complication is contrary to art.  Claude Debussy
Sentence to think about :  People who do not stand a chance to change the music world are those who do not like music.  Ben Harper
Sentence to think about :  The music drives the hatred in those who are without love. It gives peace to those who are restless, she comforts those who mourn.  Pablo Casals
Sentence to think about :  Our era is no longer music. She hides in the noise of men in their solitude suggesting what she thinks is music.  Jacques Attali
Sentence to think about :  It's not quite true that music soothes the soul. I even believe that harmony, a little in excess, leads the better man made ​​to a state of stupor and senility quite frisky.  Alphonse Allais
You are here :   Welcome » Choirs
    Print this page...
    Print this section...



Choir and Orchestra in historic layout
A children's choir in Berlin in 1932

In western music, a choir means a vocal ensemble, whose members, known singers, singing together the various musical parts for this type of formation under the direction of a conductor.

  • The word "choir" is generally synonymous with "chorus". The two words have different connotations, however.

    The word "chorus" usually refers to a unit composed of professional singers and paid, recruited by an institution or an official body - "the chorus of such theater," the chorus of this region, "the chorus of an opera" etc...

    The word "choir" in contrast, means more likely a group of amateurs, mostly volunteers, voluntarily united around a love of choral singing - "the choir college," the choir of a church ", "the village choir", etc...

    Intermediately, the term "ensemble" means a smaller group and / or with a greater musical requirement, even if it is amateur.
  • By age and sex of singers, we can distinguish :
the children's choir or children's chorus ;
the choir of men, or men's chorus, or male chorus ;
the choir of women, or women's chorus or female chorus ;
the mixed choir - men and women - or mixed chorus.
  • Members of a choir can be divided into several groups, called panels or voices. These groups are intended to interpret many different musical parts.
For example, a mixed choir consists mostly four desks, two desks women - soprano and alto - and two male desks - tenor and bass (SATB choir).
  • Choirs may also be distinguished by the choice of repertoire, with a wide variety of situations created by musical choices or more sociological in nature, and for example :
sacred music and/or secular music ;
military music, folk, revolutionary ;

Voice (instrument)

The voice is one of the musical instruments older.

The vocal sound production, or phonation, is obtained by sending air through both vocal cords vibrate, located in the larynx, followed by amplification and resonance thanks to the various organs resonators, as the pharynx, oral cavity or the nasal cavity.

The human voice is able of producing a wide variety of frequencies.

By changing the tension, especially the thickness of the vocal cords, which can change their vibrational frequency, which has the effect of varying the pitch of notes issued by voice. All these changes are the result of neuro-cerebral activities.


There are different types of voices. They differentiate commonly voices of women and children and male voices, female voices and childish is more acute than the male voices (with some exceptions). In this classification, one can even say that there are deep voices and high voices of women and children, as there are deep voices and high voices of men. This leads to the conclusion that there are four types of voice, named as follows in musical terms :

  • The sopranos, or the shrill voices of women and children
  • The altos, and bass voices of women and children
  • The tenors, or the shrill voices of men
  • The basses, which as the name implies correspond to deep voices of men.

This classification is based on the tone, thickness, and the tessitura of the voice; term used to describe a musical sound level set, in which the voice can be heard as easily, maintaining a consistency of tone.

These records, also known range, are:

It should be noted that women tessituras below are only valid for lyric singers since the latter distorts (sing in head voice) over their entire range, while the variety of singers "poitrinent "  and then descend lower and rise less high, but whether they affect they rise as high as the voice type that corresponds to them in the following list.

  • Soprano : the soprano range covers the most common middle C to high-C (C3 - C5), the soprano types are classified as follows :
    • coloratura soprani or soprani acute :
      • Coloratura soprano light or light soprano : voice very agile, brilliant, shrill and high purity, but not very powerful, often with serious toneless, ranging from low D to high-G or high B flat (D3 - G/Bflat5). Note that the light coloratura soprano arias are very often accompanied by a flute, one imitating the other.
      • Lyric coloratura soprano : nimble voice as pure and bright as the light soprano, but warm and fuller and more homogeneous register, and extending from middle C to high-F (C3 - F5).
      • Dramatic coloratura soprano : nimble voice, warm and rich, easy as serious as the shrill, incessantly that can pass from one to another without any difficulty, with a power belongs to lirico-spinto or dramatic soprano, ranging from high-B to high-F (B2 - F5).
    • Lyric soprani :
    • It should be noted that the lyrical voice (whether of the sopranos or baritones) are very likely to legato.

      • Light lyric soprano : nimble voice (but not as much as coloratura soprano), very clear, bright and warm, with limited scope, is distinguished by a very pure vocal line, stretching from middle C to the high E flat (C3 -Eb5).
      • Lyric Soprano: it is by far the most common type female is a full voice, pure and warm, not shrill, nor dramatic, ranging from middle C to high-C (C3 - C5).
      • Great lyric soprano : voice possessing the characteristics of lyric soprano, but the patch is larger, allowing it to pass through orchestras large and whose range extends from middle C to high-C (C3 - C5).
      • Lirico-spinto soprano : warm voice, able of dramatic outbursts and strong colors, ranging from middle C to high-C (C3 - C5).
    • Soprani dramatiques:
      • Dramatic soprano or wagnerian : vocals passing easily through the more expanded bands, color and hot metal at a time, ranging from low-B to  high-C (B2 - C5).
      • Falcon soprano : voice with the same characteristics as the previous type, but with a serious and acute mezzo bit easier, it runs from low-G to top-B (G2 - B4).
  • Mezzo-soprano, (also called Mezzo) :
    • Coloratura mezzo-soprano : pure voice, warm, round, and very agile, with almost a sharp soprano, but could not stay there as long as the latter, the risk of getting hurt, its range extends from the low-A to top-B  (A2 - B4).
    • Light mezzo-soprano or Dugazon (from name's Misses Dugazon, famous interpreter of the late XVIIIth century) : pure voice, warm, round, and agile, ranging from the low-A to the top-A (A2 - A4) .
    • Lyric mezzo-soprano : voice powerful medium with warm colors in the low , often very extensive on one side to the other register. Lighter and agile than the dramatic, the lyric mezzo voice retains a texture rich, immersive and dark without cumbersome.
    • Dramatic mezzo-soprano or Galli-Marié (from name's another famous French singer of the late XIXth century, Celestine Galli-Marié) : voice, warm, enveloping, powerful, serious and dark in the midrange, bright in acute, it approach the dramatic contralto, besides this type has become very rare, it is often replaced by a mezzo-soprano dramatic. The range of dramatic mezzo-soprano runs from low-G to high-A (G2 -A4).
  • Contralto:
    • Coloratura contralto : voice very agile, large, dark tone, warm, round, bright and sharp, its range extends from low-F to high-G (F2 - G4). This type of voice is as rare as dramatic contralto, it is mostly replaced by a coloratura mezzo-soprano.
    • Dramatic contralto : full voice and dark, warm tone, round and naturally rich in natural deep and low tenor, without magnification artificial. Its range extends from low-C to high-G (C2 - G4). The term contralto voice applies to women but may designate, in music baroque, a male voice. It then specifies male alto.
  • Tenor:
    • High-cons : very agile voice, high purity, bright, easy to treble, but the limited size breasts in the low and midrange, treble in distorting and extending the low-C the high-F (C2 - F4).
    • Light Tenor : same features as the previous type, but not singing voice in falsetto, stretching from low-C to high-C (C2 - C4).
    • Light lyric tenor : the same characteristics as the previous type, except the power that is stronger, but more limited than that of the lyric tenor ranges from low-C to high-C (C2 - C4).
    • Lyric tenor : full voice, warm, pure, rich and full, extending from low-C to high-C (C2 - C4).
    • Lirico-spinto tenor : same features as the previous type, but stamp wider range extending from low-C to high-C (C2 - C4).
    • Dramatic tenor : same features as the previous type, but thick patch, which allows it to pass easily through orchestras very fleshed out.
    • Heldentenor, heroic tenor, or wagnerian tenor : warm voice, extremely meaty, and powerful (over 120 dB at 1 m), low to dark-medium and in the high baritone and brilliant, but not easy, its range extends low-G or low-A to top-A (G/A - A3).
  • Bass : E1 - D3 , baritones (Ab1 - F3) are the group most acute, the lower nobility have a voice very serious and extensive (C1 - E3).
The notes in the upper extreme (above C4 for men, and above C5 for women or children) are also called "cons-xxx ". Example: C-cons is the tenor of C4, the E-cons of the soprano to E5. This classification is quite strict but it is certain that these records can vary from one individual to another. Berlioz, in his orchestration of the Treaty, said that in practice there tessituras other voices, to intermediate bass and treble voices. For men, these voices are commonly known baritone voice. For women, it is the mezzo-sopranos.

We can therefore classify tessituras as follows :
  • Voices of women and children :
  • Men's voices :

Some exceptions can add to these classifications, as the voices of high-cons, male voice unusually acute. Some women have very serious voice, called woman tenor. There are more in Eastern Europe and they are widely used in choral music of Bulgaria.

Finally, some virtuoso voice can reach extremely high notes like light soprani or coloratura soprani, those for whom writing was the air of the Queen of the Night in The Magic Flute of Mozart, or even very low notes - these voices are so called noble bass or deep bass and are found occasionally in the Russians. Some male voices are exceptionally low.


The technique of singing is very complex and requires much practice to be well controlled. Contrary to popular belief, when they sing, they are not only the vocal cords that are taking action, but really the whole body.
Indeed, the lungs are the essential part of the instrument. It is they who provide the air to bring the vocal cords vibrate. The diaphragm (the muscle of the lungs) controls inspiration. When in position, it stops its action. The expired air is then by the abdominal muscles, transverse and oblique relied on big-right themselves directly related to the viscera (liver, intestine, stomach ...).

It's the larynx that contains the vocal cords, which tighten or relax under the complex action of several muscles. To allow the singer to make sounds of different heights, the larynx tends more or less pronounced. When he ascends or descends into the trachea, it changes the dimension of the resonator and amends the patch, but not the pitch.

There are four ways to make vocal sounds, in relation to different modes of the larynx, known mechanisms (B. Roubeau) :
  • The mechanism 0 said Fry or strowbass
  • The mechanism 1 said chest voice, the larynx is fully lowered into the throat, the sounds are crazy. For example, the bass solo at the beginning of tuba mirum from Requiem by Mozart. 
  • The mechanism 2 said  head voice, the larynx is mounted in the groove, the sounds are thin and light. Example air of Arithmetic in The Child and the Spells of Ravel's "four and four eighteen, eleven and eleven twenty-five ....
  • The mechanism 3 said whistle voice.
  • The mixed voice is not a mode of mechanism of the larynx, but a way of adapting resonators.
To practice the singer practices what is known as the vocals, exercises varied depending on whether the singer wants to work on high or low register of her voice.
  • The voice is a guttural voice through the vocal cords while creating a hoarse voice and sometimes up to reproduce a voice almost animal. Normally, if this product is no vocal cord damage is possible because no problem of loss of voice.
Female voices
Modern classification Soprano · Mezzo-soprano · Contralto
Baroque classification Top · Above-lower
Male voices
Modern classification Tenor · Baritone · Bass
Baroque classification High-cons · Size · Low-Size
Tenor-cons classification Soprano · Alto
Unclassified Barrows


In music, classical, a choirmaster or cantor is a musician responsible for preparing and coordinating the various desks singing a chorus or choir to perform a musical work. He may be assisted in its work by principal musicians.
  • When the work must be performed a cappella or accompanied by a small number of instruments together for the occasion, the musical director is normally provided by the choir.
  • When the work must be performed with an orchestra, the musical direction of the assembly thus formed is usually performed by the conductor.

Among the famous choir or holds or has held an important role in vocal music include Patrick Marie Aubert, Norbert Balatsch, Frieder Bernius, Bouture Didier Philippe Caillard, Stephane Caillat, Michel Corboz, Marcel Couraud, Marcus Creed, Laurence Equilbey, Eric Ericson, John Eliot Gardiner, Yvonne Ruled, Jacques Grimbert, Philippe Herreweghe, Geoffrey Jordan, Patrick Marco, Arthur Oldham, Michel Piquemal, François Polgar, Toni Ramon, Karl Richter, Denis Rouger, John Rutter, Gerhard Schmidt Gaden, Robert Shaw, Joel Suhubiette Michel Tranchant Sofi Jeannin. Many of them are also conductors, even if they have long specialized in music with choir.


In western music, a chorister is a musician who, in a chorus or choir, performs together a musical part in a panel - unlike the solo singer, which, as its name suggests, carries only his part.

  • According to the panel to which it belongs, the choir will be associated with a job traditional voice: soprano, mezzo-soprano, alto, tenor, baritone or bass.
  • The musical knowledge base - mainly music theory and vocal technique - even if they are very popular in a choir, are not indispensable in the choral unprofessional. Thus, contrary to what happens in the field of instrumental music where technical knowledge is circumvented easily, anyone can easily fit just singing in a choir. Becoming a chorister is a way for fans without formal musical training, to participate in the execution of works, some of which may be large.
  • In popular music - jazz, rock, pop music - the term refers to a chorus singer who accompanies the lead singer, whether on an album or concert. The word chorus in this case must be interpreted as backup (or backing) vocalist.


In western music, in the classic, the term soprano refers primarily to the panel whose ambitus is "above" (one of the altos, tenors and basses).

In the voice area, it means the voice of a woman or child, or keyboard solo. There are however also male sopranos: the castrati of baroque and classical periods or the boys before puberty. The men singing in falsetto or countertenors are usually called sopranos, when their range is getting closer (exceptional cases) that of the soprano. It means as well as any instrument, the soprano vocal range which is above all those of his family.
For example, the soprano saxophone is above the alto saxophone (most known).

The development in power and length of voice led to the study of voice, that voice is now called typology. It describes several types of sopranos, most powerful (dramatic soprano), the most acute (light soprano).


In one part of the choir, choir or vocal ensemble, its scope goes to B2 C5 (C-cons), which is two octaves. This voice is often responsible for singing the melody. If it is a soprano soloist, we then speak of her voice type (below).
In a polyphonic structure, if any particular vocal or instrumental source is mentioned, the soprano is simply the upper part, located above the alto. It is not attached to the tessitura of the voice but that of his family's perspective tessituras, there is no strict relationship between that of an instrument "soprano" and that of "soprano voice" for example, the beak-flute soprano,"sounds" an octave higher than the soprano voice.


In classical music, the voice is worked to deliver a maximum power of at least 80 dB at one meter (which corresponds to a voice said to show, or concert).

In typolmogy voice, it uses the modern meanings: lyrical, lirico-spinto, dramatic, to describe the power of voice (gradually in order).

Be careful though, because if we talk of light soprano, it indicates both a low voice and a vocal range more acutely.

Placement of voice

Consistent with the classical beauty of the soprano voice has been built on an aesthetic homogeneity of the patch (no sensation of breaking from low to high), and developed his power of technology increasingly demanding (size of scenes). The specificity of the soprano is that it often works to his low tones not to use his chest voice, or as lightly as possible.

Alto (voice)

In classical music, an alto (plural : altos or alti) is a type of job in a chorus, whose ambitus matches almost exactly in the range of the contralto voice. However, all belonging to the choir viola section did not necessarily "true voice of contralto". These are often mezzo-soprano with easy low tones, whose color is lighter than a contralto.

If the altos are frequently female singers, one may be dealing with male altos in the following two assumptions :
  1. In a children's choir, the alto section is naturally composed of male voices with the most serious.
  2. In several vocal ensembles, including interpreting the repertoire of baroque music, the alto section meets very common for men using the technique of falsetto - also known as: countertenors. The presence of men among the altos and sometimes brings a powerful extra brightness to the entire panel, as the men sing in the treble of their range, while women use their range rather serious.


In western music, the term tenor (from the latin tenere = to hold) means an instrument or ambitus between alto and bass. In vocal music (baroque excepted), it is the male voice the most acute.

Figuratively, and referring to tenor soloists in XIXth century, gained fame in the operatic field, the word "tenor" usually refers to a man known for his talent in that activity.
Examples: "tenor of the Bar" to describe a successful lawyer, a "tenor of politics" to describe a famous politician, and so on.

Vocal music

In the Middle Ages, the word tenor had several meanings. Early medieval polyphony are almost exclusively vocal. This origin explains that in a chorus, the word tenor refers primarily a desk, whose ambitus is between that of the altos and bass. By extension, the term includes the members of this panel, and this, whatever their true voice type.

When writing music becomes harmonic from the XIVth century, the term came to designate a male voice usually acute, responsible for the main melody - often punctuated by long values - as opposed to other voices, above and below - including figures rhythmic richer and more varied - whose function was to provide counterpoint to the tenor part. In conservatories and music schools, the duties ofharmony are still today prepared for a quartet consisting of soprano, alto, tenor and bass.

Vocal typology

Enrico Caruso, one of the greatest tenors
In classical music, the tenor is the type of male voice whose range is most acute.

It goes without saying that the voices of young boys, castrati and countertenors are sharper than the tenor voice, but these are classified separately because their vocal technique is totally different.

The term "tenor" is used at the end of the XVIIIth century, succeeding the designations of "size" and "high-cons".

There are several categories of tenors whose differ of the characters they portrayed, and the valor of voice and rich tone, being the constant range, which extends most of the C2 to B3.

If until the middle of the XIXth century, the highs were issued in the "falsetto" (falsetto in Italian) or "head voice" in the baroque style, the "chest voice" - stronger but less extensive - is gradually imposed from the 1840s under the leadership of French tenor Gilbert Duprez. This development explains, for example, in Italian opera, bel canto works (Bellini, Rossini) generally have high tessituras but instrumentation minor roles while verists (Puccini) are less acute but more with orchestrations provided.

Baritone (voice)

In western music, a baritone is a singer whose voice has an average range between the tenors and basses. The term - from Greek barytonos : whose voice has a low tone - is often used for solo voice, but can also be used for a voice in a desk.

Le baritone, voice of soloist

When the word baritone voice means a soloist, he means the type of male voice whose range is midway between those of the tenor and bass. The term is apparent that at the end of the XVIIIth century to describe a class voice. Previously, this type of voice was called concordant or low-size. There are several categories which differ by baritones of the characters they portrayed, and the valor of voice and rich tone, the remaining constant range, which extends most of the G1 to G3.

Bass (voice)

In western music, a bass is a singer with a deep voice, originally tasked with running the "low" of a polyphonic singing.

Panel member into a choir

In a chorus (or choir), the word bass means primarily a panel, whose ambitus is below that of the tenors. By extension, the term includes the members of this panel, and this, whatever their true typology voice.

Vocal typology

Regarding the soloists, a bass is the type of male voice whose range is the lower.

  • There are several categories which differ in the low nature of the characters they portrayed, and the valor of voice and rich tone, often remaining constant tessitura, which extends most of the E1 to E3.

(Source: - copyright authors - article under GFDL)

Creation date : 26/01/2010 22:50
Category : Files - Orchestres / Formations-Definitions
Page read 70487 times