CHORUS, Writs (Lat.. from Gk. xopor. chorus, (lame. chorus: connected with x6p-ros, rhortos, inclosure. La t. hort,es. garden. ()Ir. port. erop. Ger. Gortrn, garden, Engl. yard). Among the early Greeks, a festal dance, accompanied by music. Through its development in the Attic theatre, the word came to mean particularly the group of dancing singers who took part in the rendering of a and was also applied to the parts of the composition itself which they performed. The primitive dithyrambic chorus of fifty voices in honor of Dionysus, supplemented by the addition of actors (see Antos; TuEsms), was in fact the source of the Greek drama.
In the time of the Attie tragedy the chorus consisted of twelve or fifteen persons, in charae ter befitting the scene and nature of the plot, AN Ito usually made their entrance to the orches tra from the sides early in the play. and re mained there before the stage throughout the performance. At pauses in the acting, the cho rus, with an accompaniment of dancing move ments, sang lyrical passages having reference suggestively to the subject and progress of the drama, and serving to heighten and solemnize the impression produced by the actors. Occasionally' the chorus, in the person of its leader, called the corypheus, participated briefly in the dialogue itself. The chorus has been thought to repre sent the attitude of the ideal spectator of the action, taking part with or against the persons on the stage by advice, comfort, exhortation, or dissuasion. At times the chorus was divided, and spoke or sang antiphonally. These divisions passed from side to side in movements from which originated the naming of the single songs or stanzas, such as strophe, antistrophe, and epode. Of the musical element in the composi tion of the ancient choruses little is known with any certainty. Possibly it was only a kind of rhythmic declamation, and very simple, though the metres of its verse are often complicated. It accompanied by flutes in unison.
The charge of organizing the chorus was con sidered a great distinction among the people of Athens, being one of the public services leitou•giai) offered by rich citizens to the State. The person appointed for the purpose was called the choragus, and the one most successful in each competition was awarded a prize. The honor was expensive, as the elloral.,rus bad to pay all the cost of training the chorus, besides feeding and lodging them and providing their masques and dresses.
In comedy, the' chorus was somewhat more numerous than in tragedy, and was often fan tastically adapted to the humor of the story, as, for instance, that in the Clouds and that in the Frogs, comedies of Aristophanes. Later com edy, however, gradually discarded the chorus, and with the decline of ancient tragedy the chorus fell into disuse. In recent times there
has been some attempt, as in Schiller's Bride of Messina, to produce the chorus on the stage in the manner of the ancients; but the music that has been occasionally set 10 some of the Greek tragedies can give but slight idea of that which originally accompanied them. In general, by the term 'chorus' is understood a musical composi tion arranged to lie sung by a considerable num ber of voices together; or the body of singers who collectively perform it. with or without in strumental accompaniment.
The musical chorus is the only artistic means by which a simultaneous movement or sentiment of a multitude can he represented in the drama, the language or text being always of a simple rhythm, permitting only of a limited movement suited to the combination of a multitude. It is, however, not always necessary that every part of the chorus should manifest the same feeling or sentiment. Two or more parts of the chorus may act against each other, as suits the purport of the drama. Double, triple, and quadruple choruses are found in the old Italian compositions for the Church. In opera (q.v.) the members of the chorus arc generally entirely involved in the action of the play and realistically represent, characters which figure in the dramatis persona'. Of modern operas, the chorus has been used with especial effect in those of .Meyerbeer and Wagner. In oratorio (q.v.) the chorus is of the greatest importance, and the numbers now employed to sing the chorus far exceed anything attempted a cen tury ago; this is not always an advantage, for the iciapi must necessarily he taken much more slowly. which has a sluggish effect; while in crease in the number of voices does not always produce a greater power of sound. The chorus of thirty-five well-trained voices from the Pope's chapel, which sang at the coronation of Napoleon 1., in the Cathedral of Notre Dame, Paris, is said to have produced a far greater and more wonderful effect when they entered singing the Tit cs l'et•us, than another chorus of hundreds of voices, and eighty harps, that had been assem bled and trained for the same occasion, in ex pectation of surpassing all that man could im agine. The greater the number, the greater is the difficulty in obtaining in organ building, is the name given to stops of the mix ture species, some of which contain 2, 3, •1, 5, 6, or more pipes to each note, at consonant intervals in relation to the fundamental stops. Consult: Ilaigh, The Attie Theatre (Oxford, ISS9) ; The Tragic Drama of the Greeks (Ox ford, 1890) ; Donaldson, The Theo Ire of thr Greeks (London, 8th ed., 1875) ; Mees, Chorus and Choral Music (New York, 1901).