Choral music is music performed by a group of singers or a choir. The singers may perform without accompaniment, or may be accompanied by any instrumental combination, from piano to full orchestra. Plainchant, the oldest notated Western music, dating from the 9th century, was sung in unison (all voices singing the same melody) by monks. Choral music, mostly liturgical, remained the primary focus of composers through the Renaissance. Using highly sophisticated harmonies and counterpoint (the interweaving of many melodies), they created a significant and diverse body of works. Some of the greatest works by Baroque composers J.S. Bach and Handel were choral, and all but a handful of prominent composers since then have contributed to the choral repertoire.
Thanks to church choirs, school choirs, and local choral associations, which are particularly popular in the US and the UK, choral singing provides the most widespread opportunities for amateur music-making.