Tenor

Voice Type (ranges)
Female voices
Soprano
Mezzo-soprano
Alto or Contralto
Male voices
Sopranist
Countertenor (Alto or Mezzo)
Tenor
Baritone
Bass-baritone
Bass
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A tenor is a singer with a voice range from approximately C3 (one octave below middle C) to A4 (above middle C) in choral music, or up to "tenor C" (C5, one octave above middle C) or higher in operatic music (see voice type).

Origin of the term

The name "tenor" derives from the Latin word tenere, which means "to hold". In medieval and Renaissance polyphony between about 1250 and 1500, the tenor was the structurally fundamental (or ‘holding’) voice, vocal or instrumental. All other voices were normally calculated in relation to the tenor, which often proceeded in longer note values and carried a borrowed Cantus firmus melody. Until the late 15th century introduction of the contratenor bassus, the tenor was usually the lowest voice, assuming the role of providing a harmonic foundation. It was also in the 15th century that "tenor" came to signify the male voice that sang such parts. Thus, for earlier repertoire, a line marked 'tenor' indicated the part's role, and not the required voice type. Indeed, even as late as the seventeenth century, partbooks labelled 'tenor' might contain parts for a range of voice types.

Tenor classification

Although vocal range is the primary characteristic which defines a tenor, it is not the only. A tenor is ultimately classified by several vocal traits, including range, tone quality, vocal lift points, and transition points ("passaggio") within the singer's range. It is generally recognized that the average transitional area, or passaggio, of the tenor begins with a lift around middle C or C# and ends with a lift at F or F# above that (Alderson 1979). In non-professional choirs, individuals will generally be classified based on their most resonant and comfortable tessitura.

Tenor in choral music

In four-part choral music, the tenor is the second lowest voice, above the bass and below the soprano and alto. The range of the choral tenor is generally not as great as that in opera, however. While certain choral music does require the first tenors to ascend the full tenor range, the majority of choral music places the tenors in the range from approximately B2 up to A4. The requirements of the tenor voice in choral music are also tied to the style of music most often performed by a given choir. Orchestra choruses require tenors with fully resonant voices, but chamber or a cappella style choral music can quite successfully rely on light baritones singing in the falsetto.

Even so, one nearly ubiquitous facet of choral singing is the shortage of tenor voices. Because the higher tenor range is quite unusual in adult males, and many composers label a part in the lower Alto range as "Tenor," the majority of men tend to prefer singing bass or baritone. For this reason, some men are often asked to sing tenor even if they lack the full range, and sometimes low altos are even asked to sing the tenor part as well.

Other uses

In the Barbershop harmony musical style, the name "tenor" is used for the highest part. The four parts are known (lowest to highest) as bass, baritone, lead, and tenor. The tenor generally sings in falsetto voice (thus the term tenor used in barbershop terminology most closely corresponds to the term countertenor as used in classical music), and harmonizes above the lead, who sings the melody. The barbershop tenor range is, as notated, Bb-below-middle C to D-above-high-C (and sung an octave lower).

It is often applied to instruments to indicate their range in relation to other instruments of the same group. For instance the tenor saxophone.

In bluegrass music, the melody line is called the lead. Tenor is sung an interval of a third above the lead. Baritone is the fifth of the scale that has the lead as a tonic, and may be sung below the lead, or even above the lead (and the tenor), in which case it is called "high baritone."

Types of tenor and tenor roles in operas

In opera, the tessitura, vocal weight, and timbre of tenor voices, and the roles they sing, are commonly categorized into voice types, often called fächer (sg. fach, from German Fach or Stimmfach, "vocal category").

A note on vocal range vs. tessitura: Choral and pop singers are classified into voice parts based on range; solo classical singers are classified into voice types based in part on tessitura – where the voice has the best timbre and easy volume.

The lowest note in the standard tenor repertoire is A3 (Mime, Herod), but few roles fall below C3 (one octave below middle C).

The high extreme: many tenor roles in the standard repertoire call for a "tenor C" (C5, one octave above middle C). It would be hard for a tenor to pursue a solo career without a B Flat 5. In the leggiero repertoire the highest note is an F5 (Arturo in I Puritani), though few singers will have this role in their repertoire. Countertenor ranges will correspond to the mezzo-soprano, or sometimes soprano range. While not necessarily within the tessitura, a good tenor will be able to sing his top notes full-throated, with timbre and dynamic control.

Following are the operatic tenor fächer, with their standard repertory roles:

Leggiero tenor

Also "tenore di grazia" or "light-lyric tenor" - a light, flexible tenor, specializing in the operas of Mozart, Rossini, Donizetti and Bellini, and sometimes specializing in Baroque repertoire.
Singers include Juan Diego Flórez, Rockwell Blake, William Matteuzzi, Nicolai Gedda
*Count Almaviva (The Barber of Seville)
*Arturo (I puritani)
*Belmonte (The Abduction from the Seraglio)
*Don Ottavio (Don Giovanni)
*Ferrando (Cosi fan tutte)
*Gérald (Lakmé)
*Nemorino (L'elisir d'amore)
*Ramiro (La Cenerentola)
*Tonio (La fille du régiment)

Lyric tenor

A graceful, brilliant tenor voice.
Singers include Luciano Pavarotti, Alfredo Kraus, José Carreras, Guillermo Orozco, Roberto Alagna, Marcelo Álvarez and Rolando Villazón.
*Alfredo (La traviata)
*David (Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg)
*Duke of Mantua (Rigoletto)
*Edgardo (Lucia di Lammermoor)
*Elvino (La sonnambula)
*Faust (Faust)
*Hoffmann (The Tales of Hoffmann)
*Idomeneo (Idomeneo)
*Lensky (Eugene Onegin)
*Rodolfo (La bohème)
*Roméo (Roméo et Juliette)
*Tamino (The Magic Flute)
*Werther (Werther)
*Wilhelm Meister (Mignon)

Spinto tenor

A lyric tenor with more "punch", therefore able to play more heroic roles
Singers include Enrico Caruso, and Franco Corelli.
*Alvaro (Forza del destino)
*Andrea Chénier (Andrea Chénier)
*Canio (Pagliacci)
*Don Carlos (Don Carlos)
*Don José (Carmen)
*Erik (Der fliegende Holländer)
*Ernani (Ernani)
*Manrico (Il trovatore)
*Mario Cavaradossi (Tosca)
*Maurizio (Adriana Lecouvreur)
*Pinkerton (Madame Butterfly)
*Riccardo (Un ballo in maschera)
*Turiddu (Cavalleria rusticana)

Dramatic tenor

Also "tenore di forza" or "robusto" - a ringing and very powerful, rich, heroic tenor
Singers include Mario del Monaco, Franco Corelli, Plácido Domingo.
*Calaf (Turandot)
*Otello (Otello)
*Radamés (Aïda)
*Rodolfo (Luisa Miller)
*Samson (Samson et Dalila)
  • Heldentenor - the German equivalent of the tenore drammatico, however with a more baritonal quality; the typical Wagnerian protagonist
Singers include Lauritz Melchior, Wolfgang Windgassen, Jon Vickers and Ben Heppner.
*Florestan (Fidelio)
*Tannhäuser (Tannhäuser)
*Loge (Das Rheingold)
*Lohengrin (Lohengrin)
*Parsifal (Parsifal)
*Siegfried (Siegfried, Götterdämmerung)
*Siegmund (Die Walküre)
*Walter von Stolzing (Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg)
*Tristan (Tristan und Isolde)

Other tenor types

Tenor roles in operettas and musicals

All of the Gilbert and Sullivan comic operas have at least one lead tenor character, and they are not listed in this list, except for Capt. Fitzbattleaxe, who sings an Act II song about being a tenor. A tenor who was famous for singing these roles was Thomas Round.

Sources

David Fallows, Owen Jander. "Tenor", Grove Music Online, ed. L. Macy, grovemusic.com (subscription access).

See also

External links

Tenor (from Latin tenor - holder, or tenere - hold) means generally:
  • the true purport and effect of a deed or instrument;
  • the character or usual pattern of something;
  • the drift or general meaning of a statement or discourse;

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Voice type (equivalent to the German Fach and similar Italian and French categorizations) is a system for categorizing classical and operatic solo singers, and the roles they sing, by the tessitura, weight and timbre of their unamplified voices in an opera house or
..... Click the link for more information.
Human voices may be classified according to their vocal range — the highest and lowest pitches that they can produce.

Vocal range defined

The broadest definition of vocal range, given above, is simply the span from the highest to the lowest note a particular voice
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soprano is a singer with a voice range from approximately middle C (C4) to "high A" (A5) in choral music, or to "soprano C" (C6, two octaves above middle C) or higher in operatic music.
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A mezzo-soprano (meaning "medium" or "middle" "soprano" in Italian) is a female singer whose range lies between the soprano and the contralto, usually extending from the A below middle C to the A two octaves above (i.e.
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alto or contralto is a singer with a vocal range somewhere between a tenor and a mezzo-soprano. The term is used to refer to the lowest female singing voice, or to a kind of male singing voice utilizing falsetto called a countertenor.
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alto or contralto is a singer with a vocal range somewhere between a tenor and a mezzo-soprano. The term is used to refer to the lowest female singing voice, or to a kind of male singing voice utilizing falsetto called a countertenor.
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A sopranist (or sopranista) is a male classical singer with a voice-type and register equivalent to that of a female soprano.

The Sopranist Voice

A sopranist
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A countertenor is an adult male who sings in an alto, mezzo or soprano range, often through use of falsetto, or sometimes natural head voice. This term is used almost exclusively in the context of the classical vocal tradition, although numerous popular artists have
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alto or contralto is a singer with a vocal range somewhere between a tenor and a mezzo-soprano. The term is used to refer to the lowest female singing voice, or to a kind of male singing voice utilizing falsetto called a countertenor.
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Mezzo is:
  • mezzo , the Italian word for "half", "middle" or "medium".
  • The beginning of various Italian musical terms, e.g. Mezzo-soprano.
  • The Mezzo TV cable channel in France.

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Baritone (French: baryton; German: Bariton; Italian: baritono) is most commonly the type of male voice that lies between bass and tenor.
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A bass-baritone is a singing voice that shares certain qualities of both the baritone and the bass. The term arose in the late 19th century to describe the particular type of voice required to sing three Wagnerian roles: Dutchman (in Der fliegende Holländer), Wotan (in the Ring
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A bass (or basso in Italian) is a male singer who sings in the deepest vocal range of the human voice. According to Grove Music Online, a bass has a range extending from around the F below low C to the E above middle C (i.e., F2–E4).
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A singer is a musician who uses their voice to produce music. Often the singer is accompanied by musicians and instruments. While many people sing for pleasure, vocal skill is usually a combination of innate talent and professional training.
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A choir, chorale, or chorus is a musical ensemble of singers.

A body of singers who perform together is called a choir or chorus. The former term is very often applied to groups affiliated with a church (whether or not they actually occupy the quire) and the
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Tenor C is the C one octave above Middle C. It is also known as "tenor high C" or C5. It is so named because it is the high note for the tenor, especially in opera (such as in Languir Per Una Bella by Gioacchino Rossini).
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Perfect octave
Inverse unison
Name
Other names -
Abbreviation P8
Size
Semitones 12
Interval class 0
Just interval 2:1
Cents
Equal temperament 1200
Just intonation 1200 In music, an octave
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Opera is a form of musical and dramatic work in which singers convey the drama.[1] Opera is part of the Western classical music tradition.[2] An opera performance incorporates many of the elements of spoken theatre, such as acting, scenery and costumes and
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Voice type (equivalent to the German Fach and similar Italian and French categorizations) is a system for categorizing classical and operatic solo singers, and the roles they sing, by the tessitura, weight and timbre of their unamplified voices in an opera house or
..... Click the link for more information.
Latin}}} 
Official status
Official language of: Vatican City
Used for official purposes, but not spoken in everyday speech
Regulated by: Opus Fundatum Latinitas
Roman Catholic Church
Language codes
ISO 639-1: la
ISO 639-2: lat
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Middle Ages form the middle period in a traditional schematic division of European history into three "ages": the classical civilization of Antiquity, the Middle Ages and Modern Times.
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Renaissance (French for "rebirth"; Italian: Rinascimento; Spanish: Renacimiento), was a cultural movement that spanned roughly the 14th through the 17th century, beginning in Italy in the late Middle Ages and later spreading to the rest of Europe.
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polyphony is a texture consisting of two or more independent melodic voices, as opposed to music with just one voice (monophony) or music with one dominant melodic voice accompanied by chords (homophony).
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In music, a cantus firmus ("fixed song") is a pre-existing melody forming the basis of a polyphonic composition.

The plural of this Latin term is cantus firmi, though one occasionally sees the corrupt form canti firmi.
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harmonic of a wave is a component frequency of the signal that is an integer multiple of the fundamental frequency. For example, if the frequency is f, the harmonics have frequency 2f, 3f, 4f, etc.
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Passaggio is a term used in classical singing to describe the pitch ranges in which vocal registration events occur. Beneath passagio is the chest voice where any singer can produce a powerful sound, and above it lies the head voice, where a powerful and resonant sound is
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resonance is the tendency of a system to oscillate at maximum amplitude at a certain frequency. This frequency is known as the system's resonance frequency. When damping is small, the resonance frequency is approximately equal to the natural frequency of the system, which
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In music, the term tessitura (Italian: texture) generally describes the most musically acceptable and comfortable timbre for a given voice or, less frequently, musical instrument.
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A bass (or basso in Italian) is a male singer who sings in the deepest vocal range of the human voice. According to Grove Music Online, a bass has a range extending from around the F below low C to the E above middle C (i.e., F2–E4).
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