/kown"teuhr ten'euhr/, n. Music.
1. an adult male voice or voice part higher than the tenor.
2. a singer with such a voice; a high tenor. Also called male alto.
[1350-1400; ME cownturtenur, appar. < AF; cf. MF contreteneur, OIt contratenore, equiv. to contra- CONTRA-2 + tenore TENOR]

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Adult male alto voice, either natural or falsetto.

Some writers use the term only for the natural high tenor, preferring "male alto" for the falsetto voice. Like the castrato tradition, the countertenor developed as a result of the prohibition on women taking part in church choirs. Since the falsetto voice lacks power, it was little used in opera. The countertenor tradition was preserved in the English cathedral choir. Today it is again being widely cultivated internationally, primarily for Renaissance and Baroque music.

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▪ vocal range
also spelled  Contra Tenor,  

      in music, adult male alto voice, either natural or falsetto. In England the word generally refers to a falsetto alto rather than a high tenor. Some writers reserve the term countertenor for a naturally produced voice, terming the falsetto voice a male alto.

      Derived from the Renaissance contratenor altus, abbreviated to contratenor (countertenor) or altus (alto), the term countertenor was originally applied to an alto part as well as to the voice or the instrument taking this part (see also tenor). Although the falsetto voice lost favour in the rest of Europe during the 18th century, the tradition was preserved in England in the cathedral choirs. In the 20th century the solo countertenor voice was successfully revived and, although it remains associated principally with the performance of Renaissance and Baroque music, several modern composers—notably Benjamin Britten—have written for it.

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Universalium. 2010.

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  • countertenor — [kount′ər ten΄ər] n. [ME countretenour < OFr contreteneur: see COUNTER & TENOR] 1. an adult male voice, usually in falsetto, with a range similar to the contralto and sometimes reaching the soprano 2. a singer with such a voice; a male alto 3 …   English World dictionary

  • countertenor — ► NOUN ▪ the highest male adult singing voice …   English terms dictionary

  • Countertenor — Voice type Female voices Soprano Mezzo soprano Contralto Male voices Countertenor Tenor Baritone Bass A countertenor is a male singing voice whose vocal range is equivalent to that of a contralto, mezzo soprano, or (less frequently) a soprano,… …   Wikipedia

  • Countertenor — Als Countertenor (von italienisch contrattenore), auch Altus (von lat. altus „hoch, hell“) oder seltener Kontra bzw Kontertenor, wird ein männlicher Sänger bezeichnet, der mit Hilfe einer durch Brustresonanz verstärkten Kopfstimmen bzw. Falsett… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • countertenor — UK [ˌkaʊntə(r)ˈtenə(r)] / US [ˈkaʊntərˌtenər] noun [countable] Word forms countertenor : singular countertenor plural countertenors music a man who sings with a very high voice …   English dictionary

  • Countertenor — Coun|ter|te|nor 〈[ kaʊntə(r) ] m. 1u; Mus.〉 männliche Altstimme, hoher Tenor [<engl. counter „entgegengesetzt“ + Tenor] * * * Coun|ter|te|nor [ ka̮untɐ… ], der; s, …öre [engl.] (Musik): a) Contratenor; …   Universal-Lexikon

  • countertenor — [[t]ka͟ʊntə(r)tenə(r)[/t]] countertenors also counter tenor N COUNT A countertenor is a man who sings with a high voice that is similar to a low female singing voice. Syn: alto …   English dictionary

  • countertenor — coun•ter•ten•or [[t]ˈkaʊn tərˌtɛn ər[/t]] n. 1) mad a tenor who can approximate the vocal range of a female alto without resort to falsetto 2) mad a voice part for a countertenor • Etymology: 1350–1400; ME, appar. < AF; cf. MF contreteneur, It …   From formal English to slang

  • countertenor alto — high pitched high pitched adj. 1. high in pitch or frequency; used of sounds and voices. Opposite of {low}. [Narrower terms: {adenoidal, pinched, nasal}; {altissimo}; {alto}; {countertenor, alto}; {falsetto}; {peaky, spiky}; {piping}; {shrill,… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • countertenor — noun Etymology: Middle English countretenour part balancing the tenor, from Middle French contreteneur, from contre + teneur tenor Date: 15th century a tenor with an unusually high range (as an alto range) …   New Collegiate Dictionary

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