Tenor - Tenor in Choral Music

Tenor in Choral Music

In four-part choral music, the tenor is the second lowest voice, above the bass and below the soprano and alto. While certain choral music does require the first tenors to ascend the full tenor range, the majority of choral music places the tenors in the range from approximately B2 up to A4. The requirements of the tenor voice in choral music are also tied to the style of music most often performed by a given choir. Orchestra choruses require tenors with fully resonant voices, but chamber or a cappella choral music (sung with no instrumental accompaniment) can rely on light baritones singing in falsetto.

Even so, one nearly ubiquitous facet of choral singing is the shortage of tenor voices. Most men tend to have baritone voices and for this reason the majority of men tend to prefer singing in the bass section of a choir (however, true basses are even rarer than tenors). Some men are asked to sing tenor even if they lack the full range, and sometimes low altos are asked to sing the tenor part. The late 19th century saw the emergence of male choirs or TTBB (Tenor1, Tenor2, Bass1, Bass2). In the USA these are sometimes called Glee Clubs. The Welsh choirs are perhaps the best personification of this type of choir. Male Choirs sing specially written music for male choirs, music adapted from mixed sex choirs and in most genres including classical, sacred, popular and show. Male choirs differ from Barbershop choirs in that they are usually accompanied, often by but not restricted to a piano. Male choirs are often larger than the Barbershop style partly because the foundation of the Barbershop style is the solo quartet sound. In Male Choirs, tenors will often sing both in chest tone and falsetto. As a result, a male choir has a wider pitch range than one consisting only of females. Some examples of male choirs are: The Morriston Orpheus Welsh Male Voice Choir, the Sydney Male Choir and the Treorchy Male Choir. There are some impressive male ensembles in the Russian Orthodox Church choral tradition and also there are some excellent Jewish ensembles. The UK's largest male voice choir, the London Gay Men's Chorus, for example, exhibits an extraordinary pitch range from counter tenor to basso profundo.

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