Chorality | The quality of speech being organized by multiple parties. Depending on whether its form is plural or unified, organized or spontaneous, chorality can either constitute subordination to a norm or the live creation of a subject for collective enunciation.

Our first example of chorality is paradoxical: it is an instance of collective prayer in an evangelical church. Alongside the steady hubbub of individuals brought together by a single activity (speaking to God), we can also hear people speaking or murmuring on their own. It is a minimal choral form, one in which individuals are separate and together all at once (see also Va y avoir du monde in the section on Affinity).

This collection will distinguish between two main types of chorality: unison, which can be produced in various ways; and distributed forms of speech, where one discourse is divided between several speakers. This distinction overlaps with another: preexisting collective discourses (ritualized or scripted) and those where choral speech spontaneously takes shape around a shared activity.


The most elementary form of chorality is certainly unison, where several individuals say the same thing at the same time. A simple way of producing unison is to request that a group imitate a main speaker setting the tone and example, like the head of the Pétainist youth with his disciples, an officiate with his flock, the leader of a group of fans, a school teacher with his students, or even a protester leading a chain of human amplification. Unison also takes root through custom and repetition, as in this ceremony held by a Californian cult.

Sometimes repetition is produced by training games rather than games of authority, as in this excerpt of Down by Law by Jim Jarmusch or in this wrestling scene. When the lead voice disappears or fades into the choral mass, the choir seems almost emancipated, as in the recitation of poetry or multiplication tables at school, in the “haka” chants of the All Blacks, or of course in certain theatrical performances.

A special case of chorality can be found in the example of a leader calling out to a group who responds with a different utterance. This can be heard at mass, in street protests, at the Guignol, in police shooting instruction sessions, in this witch hunt by the Monty Python.

A whole range of written modes of chorality can be heard in this action by the DurEs à Queer collective in Nantes in 2010: firstly, a form of unison (“Where are my rights”), then a form of speaking out, one by one, based on the same model (“I am a faggot where are my rights? I am a dyke where are my rights?”), followed by a collective response to a call (“What do we want? Equal rights!”).

Distributed chorality

Chorality can obviously take more subtle forms than unison. One very common mode is the distribution of a single discourse between two speakers. This is the case with comedy duos or troubadours, orators speaking with interpreters, hypnotists working in pairs, or even, more rarely, Jacques Rivette characters pretending to remember erotically shared childhood memories.

Dual composition seems most common in this kind of pre-established distribution (this is the case, incidentally, in prayer as we hear it, with a leader and a group that follows them). On the other hand, in freer, more everyday forms, distribution and ventilation can be shared between a highly variable number of speakers.

Emerging chorality

These forms of chorality are built on the present moment of speech: several people do the same thing together, each in their own way, while pushing what is being said in a shared direction, that is to say, while sharing an activity. In such cases, we can witness the emergence of a subject for collective enunciation.

These activities can be very diverse:

- learning or rehearsing, like these two-year-old children learning a poem with their parents; similarly, a collective of artists rehearsing a spoken-word choir, or even an actor and director recording a radio jingle (see also Tu me l’écris je peux p’têtre te dire).

- telling a story, like Marguerite Duras and Gérard Depardieu in Le Camion, or this couple recounting a vacation incident.

- observing or describing something, whether in the context of a safari, sports commentary, supervising dance rehearsals, or even in the preparation and simulation of stunts during patrol.

- answering someone else’s question together, like these old companions interviewed by a documentary filmmaker, the four members of Pink Floyd speaking in turn, filmmakers Straub and Huillet speaking in one voice, or these teenagers collectively building a definition of adolescence.

- improvising collective discourse, as in this performance by the W group, or even in this exchange between two babies.

- playing with listing synonyms, as in this excerpt of Masculin/Féminin by Jean-Luc Godard.

- defending or justifying one’s actions before an uncooperative worker, or in the face of a serious accusation that has allowed for the unified emergence of one’s girlfriends.
- thinking together, as in this meeting by the Encyclopédie de la parole.
- simply dining with friends to discuss a dish one may have cooked, or searching for descriptions and translations of ingredients.

Finally, a particularly elaborate representation of chorality which intertwines different speakers, texts, and languages: an excerpt from the play A-Ronne 2 by Luciano Berio.

  • À la vie éternelle

    Catholic liturgy, excerpt of the show La Messe, France Culture, 2011.

  • A wind… ? Puff !

    Two-years-old children learning a G.M. Hopkins poem, personal recording by Stacy Doris, 2008.

  • Abandonnez-vous à la détente

    Excerpt of the hypnosis recording Méta-relaxation : créativité face aux problèmes, 1990s.

  • After the end of the world

    Sun Ra, excerpt of the recording It's After the End of the World, 1970.

  • Are you ready ?

    Choral Speaking competition, excerpt of a YouTube video, 2010.

  • Au service du Maréchal

    Pétainist Youth, excerpt of the film Le Chagrin et la pitié by Marcel Ophuls, 1969.

  • Au tribunal muet des songes recueillis

    Tiago Rodrigues and volunteers, excerpt from the show L’atelier de la fiction, France culture, 2015.

  • Bouge pas

    Excerpt of a shooting lesson, unknown source.

  • Bravo !

    Triumph at the Scala of Milan, 90s.

  • Brouhaha prière

    Scene of the Mountain of Fire and Miracles Ministries evangelists praying, personal recording, 2010.

  • Buyrun

    Scene from an unloading of merchandise, personal recording by Claude Vittiglio, 2003.

  • C'est gai madame !

    Market scene, Place du Jeu de Balle in Brussels, personal recording, 2012

  • C'est une étape

    Trade unionists and worker having a conversation, excerpt of the film La reprise du travail aux usines Wonder by Jacques Willemont, 1968.

  • C'était l'enfer

    Excerpt of Renzo Martens’s film Episode I, 2003.

  • Ça va être hardcore

    Pierre-Yves Macé, Grégory Castéra, Esther Salmona, Frédéric Danos, Joris Lacoste, Nicolas Rollet, Nicolas Fourgeaud, excerpt of a meeting held by the Encyclopédie de la parole, 2009.

  • Ça va venir

    Excerpt of a sermon in Kinshasa, recording by Manuel Coursin, 2004.

  • Cachou Lajaunie

    Fabulous Trobadors, excerpt of the recording Era pas de faire, 1992.

  • Chant kanak

    Kanak chant, excerpt of the recording Les Voix du monde : anthologie des expressions orales, 1984.

  • Chauffe-eau

    Conversation with friends, excerpt of a personal recording by Nicolas Rollet, 2008.

  • Check the flashes, son

    Raekwon, Ghostface Killah, excerpt of the album Striving for Perfection, 1995.

  • Cinquante-cinq ans

    Excerpt of the film Doulaye, une saison des pluies by Henri-François Imbert, 1999.

  • C’est bien mon poussin

    Scene at the dentist's, excerpt from a YouTube video, 2010s.

  • Dadada dadada da

    Baby dialogue, YouTube video, 2012.

  • Dix, neuf, huit

    Scene on the Champs-Elysées before the launching of the iPhone in France, 2007.

  • Donnez-moi un Y

    Scene from the metro, excerpt of a personal recording posted on Audioboo, 2011.

  • Entre le bien et le mal

    Scene from a classroom, personal recording by Laurie Bellanca, 2013.

  • Eu tava comendo ela

    Excerpt of a Brazilian verbal joust, video posted on YouTube, 2000s.

  • Five time five

    Excerpt of a recital in class, unknown source.

  • Force à eux

    Extract from a report presented by children, Jemidor TV, 2021.

  • Gary !

    Excerpt from « Gary Hemming, le vagabond des cimes », Une Histoire particulière, France Culture, 2020.

  • Gimme an F

    Country Joe Mc Donald, excerpt from a concert at Woodstock, 1969.

  • Guignol !

    Excerpt of a puppet theatre show, YouTube video, 2000s.

  • Huuu !

    All-Blacks, pre-game ritual, 2010.

  • I scream for ice cream

    Roberto Benigni, Tom Waits, John Lurie, excerpt of the film Down by Law by Jim Jarmusch, 1986.

  • In Principio

    Excerpt of A-Ronne by Luciano Berio, text by Edoardo Sanguineti, 1974.

  • Incroyable

    Excerpt from a soccer commentary, 2000s.

  • J'enclenche la fumée top

    "Musique blanche" from La Patrouille de France, YouTube video, 2013.

  • Jauuuuuuune

    Guys playing Guitar Hero, video posted on YouTube, 2012.

  • Je vais chez ce cher Serge

    Scene from dinner, personal recording by Valérie Louys, 2013.

  • L'être d'un être

    Excerpt of the performance Le foyer/Le chœur by Gwénaël Morin, Théâtre de l'Élysée (Lyon), 2007.

  • Le crétinisme

    Excerpt of the film Les Invasions Barbares by Denys Arcand, 2002.

  • Le foncier

    Excerpt of the film Biquefarre by Georges Rouquier, 1974.

  • Le luxe

    Jean-Marie Straub and Danièle Huillet, excerpt of the film 6 Bagatelas by Pedro Costa and Thierry Lounas, 2001.

  • Le rossignol d'Aznavour

    Jacky Bernard and Fernand Raynaud, excerpt of the recording Les secrets du music-hall dévoilés par Jacky Bernard published by Fernand Raynaud, 1965.

  • Le seigneur soit avec vous

    Catholic liturgy, excerpt of the show La Messe, France Culture, 2011.

  • Le silence nous opprime

    David Wampach, Sabine Macher, Marie-Thérèse Allier, recording by Sabine Macher, 2011.

  • Le soufflé

    Conversation with friends, excerpt of a personal recording by Esther Salmona, 2009.

  • Lera

    Video about creating a declaration of love, YouTube, 2013.

  • Les fesses plombées 

    Excerpt of the documentary La Danse: The Paris Opera Ballet by Frederick Wiseman, 2009.

  • Les silences sont parlants, hein

    Patricia Martin, Jean-Marc Four, Pierrick Bolnau, Cyril Grasiani, excerpt of the 7-9am weekend news hour, France Inter, 2014.

  • Loupiote

    Scene from Paris at night, personal recording, 2013.

  • Mic check

    Excerpt of a meeting held during Occupy Wall Street, 2011.

  • Mil euros

    Drawing of the Sorteo de Navidad, Christmas lottery, 2014.

  • Moi j'penserai

    Excerpt of a rehearsal of the Encyclopédie’s choir, personal recording by Olivier Normand, 2010.

  • Morra! Morra!

    Excerpt of a game of cards, Italy, 2011.

  • My freestyle skills

    Sage Francis, Apathy, excerpt of the mixtape Still Sick... Urine Trouble, 2000.

  • Où irait-elle ?

    Marguerite Duras and Gérard Depardieu, excerpt of the film Le Camion by Marguerite Duras, 1977.

  • Où sont mes droits ?

    Action by the DurEs à Queer collective, Nantes, 2010.

  • Plus grand, plus conquérant

    Gabriel, Louise, Sarah and Marc Tchalik, excerpt from Métaclassique #101, 2021.

  • Plus un virgule trois

    Scène de devoirs à la maison, 2019

  • Pousse ton derrière

    Marlène Jobert, Chantal Goya, Jean-Pierre Léaud, excerpt of the film Masculin, féminin by Jean-Luc Godard, 1966.

  • Quand on dit bonjour

    Guy Lumbroso, Gwénaël Morin, Grégory Castéra, Adrien Bardi Bienenstock, Joris Lacoste, excerpt of the performance Le Bloc, Bétonsalon (Paris), 2008.

  • Red, blue and white, all right!

    Cheerleading competition (TC Wiliams High School), excerpt of a YouTube video, 2010.

  • Rezeption und Küche

    Excerpt of the film Hinterland by Marie Voignier, 2009.

  • Sarà un fantasma!

    Raffaella Gardon and Antonio, recording by Nicolas Rollet, 2014.

  • Sergeant Smith is down

    Excerpt of Deborah Scranton’s documentary film The War Tapes, 2006.>

  • Shame

    Scene of someone being arrested, field recording posted on Soundcloud, 2015.

  • She's a witch

    Excerpt of the film Monty Python and the Holy Grail by Terry Jones and Terry Gilliam, 1975.

  • Six six six sick

    CB radio exchanges between American truck drivers, 2009.

  • Sodomisation perverse et mystique

    Juliet Berto and Philippe Clévenot, excerpt of the film Céline et Julie vont en bateau by Jacques Rivette, 1974.

  • Soma Mandala

    Excerpt from Rig-Veda, Mandala 9, Brahamarishi Devarat, 70's.

  • Sound engineers

    Roger Waters, David Gilmour, Richard Wright, Nick Mason, excerpt of a Pink Floyd interview on Australian television, 1971.

  • The first document

    History-geography class at the Lycée Français of San Francisco, 2013.

  • This bouillon

    Excerpt of a dinner with friends, personal recording, 2013.

  • To pathos

    Chant during a protest in Athens, personal recording, 2012.

  • Together

    Collective prayer by the Church Universal and Triumphant, excerpt of the compilation The Sounds of American Doomsday Cults, v. 14, 1984.

  • Tournez, tournez, tournez

    Spiritism session, excerpt from the show “La Mort vivante”, La Série documentaire, France Culture, 2019.

  • Tous ont servi dans la famille

    Mountain of Fire and Miracles evangelists, personal recording by Frédéric Danos, 2010.

  • Twintig

    Countdown in a classroom, video posted on YouTube, 2014.

  • Un bon citoyen

    Maurice Pialat and children, excerpt of the television series La Maison des bois by Maurice Pialat, 1970.

  • Un plaisir fou à être là

    Arnaud Laporte, Marie Audran, Vincent Huguet, excerpt of the show La Dispute, France Culture, 2012.

  • Une épiphanie paysagère

    Conversation between friends, personal recording, 2020.

  • Une seule solution

    Protest, excerpt of the website Révoltes FM by Bruno Guiganti.

  • Vas-y Isabelle

    Wrestling match, excerpt of the show Sur les docks, France Culture, 2009.

  • Vas-y, parle

    Sara Forestier, Sabrina Ouazani, Nanou Benhamou, Aurélie Ganito, excerpt of the film L'Esquive by Abdellatif Kechiche, 2004.

  • Vous l’avez vue ?

    Apparition of a ghost, excerpt of the radio show Boulevard de l'étrange, France Inter, 1984.

  • What is esprit de corps

    Excerpt of the television gameshow Jeopardy, 2012.

Force à eux

Extract from a report presented by children, Jemidor TV, 2021.

Tournez, tournez, tournez

Spiritism session, excerpt from the show “La Mort vivante”, La Série documentaire, France Culture, 2019.

Mil euros

Drawing of the Sorteo de Navidad, Christmas lottery, 2014.

Gary !

Excerpt from « Gary Hemming, le vagabond des cimes », Une Histoire particulière, France Culture, 2020.