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Tenor

From Academic Kids

Template:Vocal range In music, a tenor is a male singer with a high voice (although not as high as a countertenor). In four part chorale-style harmony, it is the second lowest voice, above the bass and below the soprano and alto. A typical tenor will have a range extending roughly from the C an octave below middle C to the A above middle C. In a mixed-gender choir, females may also sing as tenors.

Generally tenors are the male counterpart to the soprano; they play the lover, the hero... but there are the occasional villains (the Duke of Mantua in Rigoletto)

In opera, distinctions are made between different types of tenor:

  • Tenore drammatico, di forza or robusto: a powerful, heroic tenor (Verdi's Otello)
  • Heldentenor: the German equivalent of the tenore drammatico, however with a more baritonal quality; the typical Wagnerian protagonist (Lohengrin, Siegfried, Siegmund, Parsifal)
  • Tenore leggiero: a light, flexible tenor, specializing in the Mozartean repertoire, but also in the operas of Rossini, Donizetti and Bellini, and sometimes specializing in Baroque repertoire or in comical roles
  • Tenore Buffo: a relatively weak voice with certain limitations, with a timbre that is not entirely appealing. Specializes in comic roles such as Don Basilio in Mozart's "Le Nozze Di Figaro" or Monostatos in Mozart's "Die Zauberflote"
  • Tenore lirico or di grazia: a graceful, lyric tenor (the Duke of Mantua in Rigoletto; Rodolfo in La Boheme)
  • Tenore (lirico) spinto: a lyric tenor with more "punch", therefore able to play more heroic roles (Radams in Aida)
  • Trial: a high, thin, nasal tenor, used for character roles. Named after Antoine Trial (1736-1792), a singer at the Opra Comique.
  • Baritenor, a light tenor, or one with a strong baritonic lower register, but tops out only a A or B above middle C.


Many of the most famous opera singers have been tenors, such as:

There have also been some tenors who have been well known for other types of music, who have concentrated on concert performances either with orchestras, or in chamber music, such as lieder or song recitals. These performers may be better known for this kind of work than for opera. Famous tenors of this repertory include

The name "tenor" comes from the Latin word tenere, which means "to hold". In medieval music, the tenor voice was always assigned the cantus firmus, the main melody. The other voices added harmony and counterpoint to the tenor.

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.

See also

de:Tenor (Stimmlage) es:Tenor gd:Neach-seinn cruaidh it:Tenore nl:Tenor ja:テノール pl:Tenor pt:Tenor zh:男高音

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