Encyclopedia > Tenor

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In music, tenor is the name given to 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.

Many of the most famous opera singers have been tenors. Examples are Jussi Bjorling[?], Jose Carreras[?], Enrico Caruso, Placido Domingo, Beniamino Gigli, Lauritz Melchior, Mario Lanza[?] and Luciano Pavarotti.

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

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.

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