countertenor

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countertenor,

a male singing voice in the altoalto,
singing voice the range of which is lower than the soprano by the interval of a fifth. More generally, the term refers to the register in which this voice sings, i.e., the second highest part in a four-part musical texture, and to instruments utilizing this register.
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 range. Singing in this range requires either a special vocal technique called falsetto, or a high extension of the tenortenor,
highest natural male voice. In medieval polyphony, tenor was the name given to the voice that had the cantus firmus, a preexisting melody, often a fragment of plainsong, to which other voices in counterpoint were added.
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 range. Countertenors were required during the Renaissance and Baroque periods when women were not permitted to sing publicly. See also castratocastrato
[Ital.,=castrated], a male singer with an artificially created soprano or alto voice, the result of castration in boyhood. The combination of the larynx of a youth and the chest and lungs of a man produced a powerful voice of great range and unique sound.
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countertenor

an adult male voice with an alto range
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005
References in periodicals archive ?
From the end of the 14th century (but outside the territory of Bohemia, although one of the manuscripts is today kept in a Prague library) we also know instrumental paraphrases of popular vocal pieces (preserved for example in the codices Faenza 117, "Reina" or the Prague National Library XI E 9), in which the originally sung discant part is richly adorned, while the "accompanying" tenor (and sometimes contratenor) remains in almost unaltered form.
The convention of placing tenors below contratenors says much about the way editors interpret the tenor label (by analogy with later functional bass lines); deciding on the basis of the first or last chord reflects other prejudices to do with directions and goals; and the interpretation of cadence points is worth a book in its own right.
The melodic and rhythmic profiles of the tenor and contratenor are also very similar.
According to the liner notes, the group's study of `alternative' contratenor and `instrumental' parts, instrumental tablature and division techniques, has enabled the reconstruction of `the mosaic of a brilliant contrapuntal culture and its associated traditions of highly refined improvised polyphony'.
Only one source actually follows this sequence, however, and, ironically, this is the Trent 92 reading which bizarrely and incompatibly combines the superius of the first version with the tenor and contratenor of the second.
She divides the repertory into two primary subgenres: "motet-style" motets pieces with "two texted voices in the same range above a slower-moving tenor, or tenor-contratenor part" (68) and "cantilena" motets pieces with "three voices, with a single cantus voice above the tenor and contratenor" (68).
And there is no surviving copy of the Contratenor that contains every stop-press or in-house correction.

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