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Encyclopedia > Countertenor
Voice Type (ranges)
Female voices
Soprano
Mezzo-soprano
Contralto

Male voices Voice type, often called Fach (pl. ... Human voices may be classified according to their vocal range — the highest and lowest pitches that they can produce. ... This article is about the voice-type. ... A mezzo-soprano (meaning medium soprano in Italian) is a female singer with a range usually extending from the A below middle C to the F an eleventh above middle C. Mezzo-sopranos generally have a darker (or lower) vocal tone than sopranos, and their vocal range is between that... In music, an alto is a singer with a vocal range somewhere between a tenor and a soprano. ...

Countertenor
Tenor
Baritone
Bass-Baritone
Bass

Related concepts This article is about Tenor vocalists in music. ... For other uses, see Baritone (disambiguation). ... A bass-baritone is a singing voice that shares certain qualities of both the baritone and the bass. ... A bass (or basso in Italian) is a male singer who sings in the deepest vocal range of the human voice. ...

Coloratura
Chest voice
Head voice
Sprechgesang
Vocal registration
Vocal resonation

edit this - view history Coloratura is an old word meaning colouring. ... Human voice is sound made by a person using the vocal folds for talking, singing or crying. ... Human voice is sound made by a person using the vocal folds for talking, singing or crying. ... Sprechgesang and sprechstimme (German for spoken-song and spoken-voice) are musical terms used to refer to an expressionist vocal technique that falls between singing and speaking. ... Vocal registration is the term used to denote various theories of how the human voice changes, both subjectively and objectively, as it moves through its pitch range. ...

A countertenor is an adult male who sings in an alto, mezzo-soprano or (more rarely) soprano range, often through use of falsetto, or sometimes natural head voice. A younger male who has this ability is called a Male Alto. This term is used almost exclusively in the context of the classical vocal tradition, although numerous popular music artists employ countertenor technique. The countertenor voice went through a massive resurgence in popularity in the second half of the 20th century, partly due to pioneers such as Alfred Deller, by the increased popularity of Baroque opera and the need of male singers to replace the castrati roles in such works. Although the voice has been considered largely an early music phenomenon, there is a growing modern repertoire. [1] [2] In music, an alto or contralto is a singer with a vocal range somewhere between a tenor and a mezzo-soprano. ... A mezzo-soprano (meaning medium soprano in Italian) is a female singer with a range usually extending from the A below middle C to the F an eleventh above middle C. Mezzo-sopranos generally have a darker (or lower) vocal tone than sopranos, and their vocal range is between that... This article is about the voice-type. ... Falsetto (Italian diminutive of falso, false) is a singing technique that produces sounds that are pitched higher than the singers normal range, in the treble range. ... The head register is generalized to be the range of vocal notes above middle C (C4). ... Classical music is a broad, somewhat imprecise term, referring to music produced in, or rooted in the traditions of, European art, ecclesiastical and concert music, encompassing a broad period from roughly 1000 to the present day. ... For the music genre, see Pop music. ... Alfred Deller (31 May 1912 – 16 July 1979) was an English singer, one of the main figures in popularising the use of the countertenor voice in renaissance and baroque music. ... For other uses, see Baroque (disambiguation). ... For other uses, see Opera (disambiguation). ... A castrato is a male soprano, mezzo_soprano, or alto voice produced by castration of the singer before puberty. ... Early music is commonly defined as European classical music from the Middle Ages, the Renaissance and the Baroque. ...

Contents

The countertenor in history

In polyphonic compositions of the fourteenth and early fifteenth centuries, the contratenor was a voice part added to the basic two-part contrapuntal texture of discant (superius) and tenor (from the Latin tenere which means to hold, since this part "held" the music's melody, while the superius descanted upon it at a higher pitch). Though having approximately the same range as the tenor, it was generally of a much less melodic nature than either of these other two parts. With the introduction in about 1450 of four-part writing by composers like Ockeghem and Obrecht, the contratenor split into contratenor altus and contratenor bassus, which were respectively above and below the tenor.[3] Later the term became obsolete: in Italy, contratenor altus became simply alto, in France, haute-contre, in England, countertenor, terms still in use today. Though originally these words were used to designate a vocal part, they are now used to describe singers of that part, whose vocal techniques may differ (see below).[4] Polyphony is a musical 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). ... For medical uses of the term see Superius (medical) In early vocal music, Superius is the Latin-derived name given to the highest voice-part - see Arnold, ref 1. ... This article is about Tenor vocalists in music. ... Ockeghem (with glasses) and his singers Johannes Ockeghem (c. ... Jacob Obrecht Jacob Obrecht (November 22, 1458 – late July, 1505) was a Dutch composer of the Renaissance. ... 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. ...


In the Catholic church during the Renaissance, St Paul's admonition "mulieres in ecclesiis taceant" ("let women keep silent in churches" - I Corinthians 14, verse 34) still prevailed, and so women were banned from singing in church services. Countertenors, though rarely described as such, therefore found a prominent part in liturgical music, whether singing a line alone or with boy trebles or altos; (in Spain there was a long tradition of male falsettists singing soprano lines). However, countertenors were much less prominent in early opera, the rise of which coincided with the arrival of a fashion for castrati, who took, for example, several roles in the first performance of Monteverdi's Orfeo (1607). Castrati were already prominent by this date in Italian church choirs, replacing both falsettists and trebles; the last soprano falsettist singing in Rome, Giovanni de Sanctos (a Spaniard), died in 1625.[5] In Italian opera, by the late seventeenth century, castrati predominated, though in France, the haute-contre remained the voice of choice for leading male roles, and this was also true to a considerable extent in English stage works of this period, for example, the roles of Secrecy and Summer in Purcell's The Fairy Queen (1692). In Purcell's choral music the situation is further complicated by the occasional appearance of more than one solo part designated "countertenor", but with a considerable difference in range and tessitura. Such is the case in Hail, bright Cecilia (The Ode on St Cecilia's Day 1692) in which the solo "'Tis Nature's Voice" has the range F3 to B-flat4 (similar to those stage roles cited previously), whereas, in the duet "Hark each tree" the countertenor soloist sings from E4 to D5 (in the trio "With that sublime celestial lay". Later in the same work, Purcell's own manuscript designates the same singer, Mr Howel, described as "a High Contra tenor" to perform in the range G3 to C4; it is very likely that he took some of the lowest notes in a well-blended "chest voice" - see below). Treble (or Boy Soprano in slang) is a term applied in music to a young male singer with an unchanged voice in the soprano range. ... This article is about the voice-type. ... A castrato is a male soprano, mezzo_soprano, or alto voice produced by castration of the singer before puberty. ... The Fairy-Queen (Z.629) is a masque or semi-opera by Henry Purcell. ... In music, tessitura (Italian: texture) is a range of pitches compared to the instrument for which it was intended to be used. ...


By Handel's time, castrati had come to dominate the English operatic stage as much as that of Italy (and indeed most of Europe outside France), and also took part in several of his oratorios, though countertenors also featured as soloists in the latter, the parts written for them being closer in compass to the higher ones of Purcell, with a usual range of A3 to E5.[6] They also sang the alto parts in Handel's choruses, and it was as choral singers within the Anglican church tradition that countertenors survived throughout the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Otherwise they largely faded from public notice.[7]


The modern countertenor

The most visible icon of the countertenor revival in the twentieth century was Alfred Deller, an English singer and champion of authentic early music performance. Deller initially called himself an "alto", but his collaborator Michael Tippett recommended the archaic term "countertenor" to describe his voice.[8] In the 1950s and 60s, his group, the Deller Consort, was important in increasing audiences' awareness (and appreciation) of Renaissance and Baroque music. Deller was the first modern countertenor to achieve fame, and has had many prominent successors. Benjamin Britten wrote the leading role of Oberon in his setting of A Midsummer Night's Dream (1960) especially for him; the countertenor role of Apollo in Britten's Death in Venice (1973) was created by James Bowman, the best-known amongst the next generation of English countertenors. Russell Oberlin was Deller's American counterpart, and another early music pioneer. Oberlin's success was entirely unprecedented in a country that had seen little exposure to anything before Bach, and it paved the way for the recent great success of countertenors there also.[9] Alfred Deller (31 May 1912 – 16 July 1979) was an English singer, one of the main figures in popularising the use of the countertenor voice in renaissance and baroque music. ... Sir Michael Kemp Tippett, OM (2 January 1905 – 8 January 1998) was one of the foremost English composers of the 20th century. ... Britten redirects here. ... For other uses, see Death in Venice (disambiguation). ... James Thomas Bowman (b. ... Russell Oberlin (October 11, 1928) is an American countertenor. ...


Today, countertenors are much in demand in many forms of classical music. In opera, many roles originally written for castrati are now sung and recorded by countertenors, as are some trouser roles originally written for female singers. The former category is much more numerous, and includes Orfeo in Gluck's Orfeo ed Euridice and many Handel roles, such as the name parts in Giulio Cesare and Orlando, and Bertarido in Rodelinda.[10] Many modern composers other than Britten have written, and continue to write, countertenor parts, both in choral works and opera, as well as songs and song-cycles for the voice. Men's choral groups such as Chanticleer and the King's Singers employ the voice to great effect in a variety of genres, including early music, gospel, and even folk songs. Other recent operatic parts written for the countertenor voice include Edgar in Aribert Reimann's Lear (1978), the title role in Philip Glass's Akhnaten (1983), and Trinculo in Thomas Adès's The Tempest (2004).[11] Countertenors have also appeared in rock music, most notably Freddie Mercury and Roger Meddows-Taylor of Queen and Claudio Sanchez of Coheed and Cambria. A breeches role (also pants role or trouser role) is a role in which an actress appears in male clothes (breeches being tight-fitting knee-length pants, the standard male garment at the time breeches roles were introduced). ... Christoph Willibald Gluck (July 2, 1714 – November 15, 1787) was a German composer. ... Orfeo ed Euridice is an opera by Christoph Willibald Gluck. ... This article or section does not cite its references or sources. ... Handel opera composed in 1733. ... Chanticleer is a male vocal ensemble with a wide repertoire that performs throughout the world. ... The Kings Singers is an a cappella group. ... Aribert Reimann (born 4 March 1936) is an German opera composer and pianist. ... Lear is an opera by the German composer Aribert Reimann, based on Shakespeares tragedy King Lear. ... Philip Glass (born January 31, 1937) is a three-times Academy Award-nominated American composer. ... Akhnaten is an opera based on the life and religious convictions of the pharaoh Akhenaten (a. ... Thomas Adès (born in London, 1 March 1971) is a British composer. ... The Tempest in an opera by English composer Thomas Adès with a libretto in English by Meredith Oakes based on the play, The Tempest by William Shakespeare. ... Freddie Mercury (born Farrokh Bulsara; 5 September 1946 – 24 November 1991) was a British musician, best known as the lead singer of the rock band Queen (inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2001). ... This article does not cite any references or sources. ... Queen are an English rock band formed in 1970 in London by guitarist Brian May, lead vocalist Freddie Mercury, and drummer Roger Taylor, with bassist John Deacon joining the following year. ... Claudio Paul Sanchez (born March 12, 1978)[1] is the lead singer and guitarist for Coheed and Cambria, a progressive rock group. ... Coheed and Cambria is an American progressive rock[1][2] band formed in Nyack, New York. ...


The countertenor voice

Common vocal ranges represented
on a musical keyboard

A trained countertenor will typically have a vocal centre similar in placement to that of a contralto or mezzo-soprano.[12] Peter Giles, a professional countertenor and noted author on the subject, defines the countertenor as a musical part rather than as a vocal style or mechanism. In modern usage, the term "countertenor" is essentially equivalent to the medieval term contratenor altus (see above). In this way, a countertenor singer can be operationally defined as a man who sings the countertenor part, whatever vocal style or mechanism is employed.[13] The countertenor range is generally equivalent to an alto range, extending from approximately G or A3 to E5 or perhaps F5. In actual practice, it is generally acknowledged that a majority of countertenors sing with a falsetto vocal production for at least the upper half of this range, although most use some form of "chest voice" (akin to the range of their speaking voice) for the lower notes. The most difficult challenge for such a singer is managing the lower middle range, for there are normally a few notes (around Bflat3) that can be sung with either vocal mechanism, and the transition between registers must somehow be blended or smoothly managed.[14]
Human voices may be classified according to their vocal range — the highest and lowest pitches that they can produce. ... The layout of a typical musical keyboard A musical keyboard is the set of adjacent depressible levers on a musical instrument which cause the instrument to produce sounds. ... Image File history File links This is a lossless scalable vector image. ... Image File history File links This is a lossless scalable vector image. ... This article is about the voice-type. ... Image File history File links This is a lossless scalable vector image. ... Image File history File links This is a lossless scalable vector image. ... This article is about the voice-type. ... Image File history File links This is a lossless scalable vector image. ... Image File history File links This is a lossless scalable vector image. ... This article is about Tenor vocalists in music. ... Image File history File links This is a lossless scalable vector image. ... Image File history File links This is a lossless scalable vector image. ... A bass (or basso in Italian) is a male singer who sings in the deepest vocal range of the human voice. ... In music, an alto is a singer with a vocal range somewhere between a tenor and a soprano. ... A mezzo-soprano (meaning medium soprano in Italian) is a female singer with a range usually extending from the A below middle C to the F an eleventh above middle C. Mezzo-sopranos generally have a darker (or lower) vocal tone than sopranos, and their vocal range is between that... Falsetto (Italian diminutive of falso, false) is a singing technique that produces sounds that are pitched higher than the singers normal range, in the treble range. ...


In response to the (in his view) pejorative connotation of the term falsetto, Giles refuses to use it, calling the upper register "head voice."[15] Many voice experts would disagree with this choice of terminology, reserving the designation "head voice" for the high damped register accompanied by a relatively low larynx that is typical of modern high operatic tenor voice production. The latter type of head voice is, in terms of the vocal cord vibration, actually more similar to "chest voice" than to falsetto, since it uses the same "speaking voice" production (referred to as "modal" by voice scientists), and this is reflected in the timbre.[16]
Falsetto (Italian diminutive of falso, false) is a singing technique that produces sounds that are pitched higher than the singers normal range, in the treble range. ...


Other authorities would prefer to restrict use of the term countertenor to singers employing little or no falsetto, equating it with haute-contre and the Italian term tenor altino.[17] Russell Oberlin was himself a countertenor of this type, noted for his ability to sing alto and/or countertenor parts extending above C5 (the notorious "tenor high C" popularized by Italian opera) while still employing modal voice (many high tenors, particularly those who specialise in the bel canto repertoire of Rossini, Bellini, Donizetti, and their contemporaries can also do this, but generally use a more robust voice production). Some writers insist that this can only be accomplished physically by a man in possession of vocal cords considerably shorter than average,[18] and that such a singer would therefore possess an unusually high speaking voice (a falsettist countertenor normally speaks as a baritone or bass). Like the haute-contre, these tenorial countertenors have a lower range and tessitura than their falsettist counterparts, perhaps from D3 to D5. Those authorities who hold that only non-falsettists are "real" countertenors would prefer the phrase "male alto" for the more common falsettist type.[19]
In music, tessitura (Italian: texture) is a range of pitches compared to the instrument for which it was intended to be used. ...


Some falsettist countertenors have a much higher range, approaching that of a coloratura soprano. These are usually called sopranists or simply "male sopranos". [20] There are in addition a few rare adult male singers who, for hormonal or other physical reasons, did not undergo the voice-change associated with male puberty, and are referred to as endocrinological castratos.[21] A sopranist is a male singer who sings in the soprano vocal range. ... This article is about the voice-type. ... A castrato is a male soprano, mezzo-soprano, or alto voice produced either by castration of the singer before puberty or one who, because of an endocrinological condition, never reaches sexual maturity. ...


Listen and Compare

To hear an example of a countertenor using a falsetto technique in the alto/mezzo-soprano range (David Daniels in the title role of Handel's Rinaldo) click on this link: Watch here David Daniels as Nerone in Monteverdis LIncoronazione di Poppea The American singer David Daniels (born 12 March 1966) is one of the best-known and highly regarded countertenors in modern operatic history. ... HANDEL was the code-name for the UKs National Attack Warning System in the Cold War. ... Born in a small Western Massachusetts town in late 1988, Rinaldo has influenced the lives of many during his short time on planet Earth. ...


To hear an example of a countertenor using a falsetto technique in the soprano range (Jörg Waschinski in an extract from "Invan minacci e credi vincer" from Jommelli's Il Vologeso) click on this link Listen here Niccolò Jommelli Niccolò Jommelli (September 10, 1714 – August 25, 1774) was an Italian composer. ...


To hear an example of a countertenor using an entirely modal head voice technique in the soprano range (Michael Maniaci in the role of Nireno from Handel's Giulio Cesare) click on this link: Watch here HANDEL was the code-name for the UKs National Attack Warning System in the Cold War. ... This article or section does not cite its references or sources. ...


References

  1. ^ Stark (2003), Bel Canto: A History of Vocal Pedagogy, hereafter Stark
  2. ^ Giles, Peter (1982), The Countertenor. Muller Publishing, hereafter Giles1
  3. ^ Giles1
  4. ^ Stark
  5. ^ Heriot, A: The Castrati in Opera (London, 1956, p12)
  6. ^ Giles1
  7. ^ Stark
  8. ^ Giles1
  9. ^ Giles, Peter (2005), A Basic Countertenor Method, hereafter Giles2
  10. ^ Stark (2003)
  11. ^ Giles1
  12. ^ Appelman, D. Ralph (1986). The Science of Vocal Pedagogy: Theory and Application, hereafter Appelman
  13. ^ Giles2
  14. ^ Giles2
  15. ^ Giles2
  16. ^ Appelman
  17. ^ Giles, "liberal" in his use of the word countertenor, proposes this latter term for such voices
  18. ^ Stark (2003)
  19. ^ This is a subject of much controversy: Ardran and Wulstan in their article "The Alto or Countertenor Voice" (Music and Letters, Vol 48/1, January 1967) follow a similar line to Giles, but others disagree strongly - see, for example, Neal Zaslaw: 'The enigma of the Haute-Contre' (Musical Times, Vol. 115, No. 1581 (Nov., 1974), pp. 939-941); Mary Cyr: 'On performing 18th-century haute-contre roles' (Musical Times, vol 118, April 1977); Simon Ravens: 'A sweet shrill voice' : The countertenor and vocal scoring in Tudor England (Early Music 1998; XXVI: 123-136).
  20. ^ Appelman
  21. ^ Giles2

Further reading

Appelman, D. Ralph (1986). The Science of Vocal Pedagogy: Theory and Application. Indiana University Press. ISBN 13: 978-0253203786. 


Boldrey, Richard (1994). Guide to Operatic Roles and Arias. Caldwell Publishing Company. ISBN 13: 9781877761645. 


Giles, Peter (1982). The Countertenor. Muller Publishing Co.. 


Giles, Peter (2005). A Basic Countertenor Method. Kahn & Averill Publishers. ISBN 13: 978-1871082821. 


Smith, Brenda (2005). Choral Pedagogy. Plural Publishing, Inc. ISBN 13: 978-1597560436. 


Stark, James (2003). Bel Canto: A History of Vocal Pedagogy. University of Toronto Press. ISBN 13: 978-0802086143. 

External links

  • The (Un)official Countertenor Homepage
  • The Countertenor Pages
  • Voice Definitions and Ranges
  • Male Altos (and Sopranos)

  Results from FactBites:
 
Countertenor - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (759 words)
A countertenor is an adult male who sings in an alto or soprano range, often through use of falsetto.
The countertenor voice went through a massive resurgence in popularity in the second half of the 20th century, partly caused by pioneers such as Alfred Deller and by the increased popularity of Baroque opera.
Countertenors remained in the niche of sacred vocal music, in part because women were banned from singing in church services.
Countertenor (878 words)
A countertenor will use a huge amount of falsetto in the onset of tone - then expanding into the rest of the cord - while a baritone will use the main part of the cord in onset, whilst having some falsetto present.
The countertenor voice has grown over the years, in variety of tone within the individual and within the voice type as a whole, to the point where some male singers are not easy to distinguish from female singers.
Because Castrati are extinct and the percentage of natural countertenors is very, very low, nearly the only way for a male to sing countertenor is to utilize their developed falsetto.
  More results at FactBites »

 
 

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