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Male voices

The tenor is a type of male singing voice and is the highest male voice within the modal register. The typical tenor voice lies between C3, the C one octave below middle C, to the A above middle C (A4) in choral music, and up to high C (C5) in solo work. The low extreme for tenors is roughly B2 (two Bs below middle C). At the highest extreme, some tenors can sing up to two Fs above middle C (F5).[1]

The term tenor is also applied to instruments, such as the tenor saxophone, to indicate their range in relation to other instruments of the same group.

Within opera, the lowest note in the standard tenor repertoire is A2 (Mime, Herod), but few roles fall below C3 (one octave below middle C). The high extreme: a few tenor roles in the standard repertoire call for a "tenor C" (C5, one octave above middle C). Most (if not all) of the few top Cs in the standard operatic repertoire are either optional (such as in Che gelida manina in Puccini's La Boheme) or interpolated (added) by tradition (such as in Di quella pira from Verdi's Il Trovatore). Some operatic roles for tenor require a darker timbre and fewer high notes. In the leggiero repertoire the highest note is an F5 (Arturo in I puritani), therefore, very few tenors can have this role in their repertoire.[2]. A shift in pitch since the mid 19th century means that the few written top Cs (such as in Salut demeure from Gounod's Faust) would have in fact demanded a note at least a semitone lower than today's standard pitch.

Within musical theatre, most tenor roles are written between B2 and A4, especially the romantic leads, although some fall as low as A2 and others as high as G5.


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