Learn about the countertenor voice – Rochdale Borough Council (2023)

What is a countertenor?

A countertenor is a male singer who can sing as high as a soprano or mezzo-soprano.The countertenor is the rarest of all voice types.

(Video) Bass voice range

The countertenor was not originally an operatic voice type as historically it was the castrati who wouldsing the female operatic rolesin an agewhenit was not proper for women to sing in the opera. Instead, countertenors were popular in religious choirs where women were also not allowed to participate.

(Video) Clarinet - what it sounds like

Today the countertenor is arguably the most profitable voice type, mainly due to rarity and lack of competition at auditions.Many baroque operas utilise the countertenor today due to many being written for castrati singers. The opera Giulio Cesare by Handel requires4 countertenors to replace the castrati singers.Some modern operas also cast countertenors,such asJonathon Dove's Pinocchio which really showcases the intricacies of the voice type.

(Video) Mezzo-soprano voice range

It's easy to mistake yourself for a countertenor as all male voices have an area in the voice called the falsetto.This is a high pitched area, usually quieter and softer in tone than the main voice.If the singer has trained his falsetto range well it can easily be mistaken for a countertenor voice.

(Video) Tenor voice range

(Video) Baritone voice range
(Video) Contralto voice range
(Video) Countertenor voice range


How do you describe A countertenor voice? ›

countertenor, 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.

Can A woman be A countertenor? ›

A contralto's vocal range is almost identical to that of a countertenor, while a woman who sings lower still might be called contralto profundo, equivalent to a male tenor, or even contralto basso, equivalent to a baritone, but all these distinctions are full of variation.

What voice range is countertenor? ›

A countertenor (also contra tenor) is a type of classical male singing voice whose vocal range is equivalent to that of the female contralto or mezzo-soprano voice types, generally extending from around G3 to D5 or E5, although a sopranist (a specific kind of countertenor) may match the soprano's range of around C4 to ...

How high can a countertenor sing? ›

Countertenor is a male voice of unusually high range, broadly equivalent to a female contralto or mezzo-soprano. In terms of pitch notation, it generally extends from around G3 to D5 or E5, that is from the note G one octave below middle C (or C4) up to the D or E an octave above middle C.

Who is the greatest countertenor? ›

Countertenor Artists
  • Philippe Jaroussky. 26,350 listeners. Philippe Jaroussky (b. ...
  • Andreas Scholl. 37,085 listeners. ...
  • Alex Luna. 18,384 listeners. ...
  • Ringmasters. 2,205 listeners. ...
  • James Bowman. 6,970 listeners. ...
  • Daniel Taylor. 5,598 listeners. ...
  • Max Emanuel Cencic. 2,449 listeners. ...
  • Gerard Lesne. 3,476 listeners.

What is the rarest voice type? ›

A countertenor is a male singer who can sing as high as a soprano or mezzo-soprano. The countertenor is the rarest of all voice types.

What is a female singer with a high voice called? ›

Soprano: this is the highest singing voice, with the highest tessitura. It is also the most common female voice. Sopranos are given prominent singing roles, and are often the protagonists of the opera. They can sing from the middle C to two octaves higher (that is, an interval of 15 full notes in total).

How long does it take to become a countertenor? ›

It might take you 10 years to develop a great singing voice if you're starting from zero and don't have the greatest sense of pitch. If you're already a pretty good to average singer, that journey may only take you 3–5 years. It depends on what you mean by “can't sing”.

Which is higher tenor or countertenor? ›

As men's voices tend to be naturally lower than women's, adult male singers generally fall within the tenor and bass ranges (though most likely tenor). However, men who are able to manipulate their vocal cords to sing in the higher registers – i.e., those above the range of a tenor – are known as countertenors.

What is the difference between falsetto and countertenor? ›

The difference between a trained countertenor and a falsettist singing in this range is that the countertenor can close and open their vocal folds with each vibration cycle – effectively singing "naturally", rather than the idiosyncratic straining of falsetto. Where does it come from?

What are the types of countertenor? ›

Within the countertenor voice type category are three generally recognized subcategories: the sopranist or “male soprano,” the haute-contre, and the castrato.

How rare are countertenors? ›

Countertenors are still quite rare, though. How did you realise this was your voice type? There are very very few countertenors around, it's not a voice that, in inverted commas, is natural. When boys' voices break the voice they tend to sing with is their speaking voice.

What voice type is Adele? ›

As a mezzo-soprano, Adele's songs sit in a range that suits most listeners, singing along. Adele can mix her chest voice up quite high (E5, 10 notes above middle C) but she is not taken to the range extremes of early Mariah or Celine.

What type of voice did Elvis have? ›

Elvis Presley was a baritone whose voice had an extraordinary compass — the so-called register — and a very wide range of vocal colour. It covered two octaves and a third, from the baritone low-G to the tenor high B, with an upward extension in falsetto to at least a D flat.

How do I know what my voice type is? ›

Discovering our voice type is in fact a really simple exercise, and certainly one which is worth spending a bit of time on as a beginner.
How to Find Your Voice Type
  1. Warm up. ...
  2. Find your lowest note. ...
  3. Find your highest note. ...
  4. Compare your lowest and highest note.

What is the highest male singing voice called? ›

Tenors are the highest male voice and, like sopranos, they are capable of delivering thrilling high notes and often have a brilliant shining timbre.

What male voice is higher than tenor? ›

These factors include vocal-fold length, thickness, and other elements of laryngeal proportions. All countertenors, save those rare examples previously mentioned, also fall into the traditional male voice categories, such as tenor and bass. Countertenor range: The countertenor is the highest male voice.

Who is the greatest tenor alive? ›

The most notable and famous tenors in the world today
  • Plácido Domingo. ''He remains an authoritative interpreter of this uniquely demanding assignment'' – The Guardian. ...
  • Andrea Bocelli. ...
  • José Cura. ...
  • Marcelo Álvarez. ...
  • Roberto Alagna. ...
  • Jonas Kaufmann. ...
  • Lawrence Brownlee. ...
  • Juan Diego Flórez.
Aug 1, 2021

What is Beyonce's voice type? ›

Beyoncé is basically an operatic mezzo-soprano in disguise – and she proved it in this impressive clip.

What voice type is the most attractive? ›

Their study revealed that males find female voices that indicate a smaller body size—high-pitched, breathy voices with wide formant spacing—most attractive. Females, on the other hand, prefer to hear a low-pitched voice with narrow formant spacing, reflecting a larger body size.

What is the most common voice? ›

In speaking about voice types, Seth Riggs, founder of Speech Level Singing would always say that 99% of males are some kind of tenor and 99% of females are some kind of soprano.

Who has the deepest singing voice? ›

Tim Storms (born August 28, 1972) is an American singer and composer. He holds the Guinness World Record for both the "lowest note produced by a human" and the "widest vocal range".

What is the deepest female voice? ›

Contralto: the lowest female voice, F3 (F below middle C) to E5 (2nd E above Middle C). Rare contraltos possess a range similar to the tenor.

What singer has a unique voice? ›

If you try to think of singers with unique voices, a few might come to mind: from Freddie Mercury, Michael Jackson, Ella Fitzgerald, Axl Rose and Nina Simone to Bjork, Amy Winehouse, Beyonce, Thom Yorke (Radiohead), Jeff Buckley...

Can you train yourself to be a countertenor? ›

And so, unless you really have the natural potential to be a countertenor, you can't train to become one, although you can become a more versatile vocalist and train to fully develop your upper range, see Michael Gordon's answer to Is "Countertenor" a voice type or something that you can learn?

How high can an untrained tenor sing? ›

Average untrained tenor A2-Ab4 and will have naturally resonant falsetto/head voice up to Eb5 that can slide in and out of call register. Average Trained Baritone range is F2-G4(A4 Extreme). Average Trained tenor range is A2-C5(Eb5 Extreme).

How rare is a male tenor? ›

Male tenor voices aren't particularly rare, but many of those who possess such a voice are more inclined towards popular music genres rather than taking the role of a tenor in a choir.

What are words to describe a voice? ›

Words used to describe someone's voice - thesaurus
  • adenoidal. adjective. if someone's voice is adenoidal, some of the sound seems to come through their nose.
  • appealing. adjective. ...
  • a voice like a foghorn. phrase. ...
  • breathy. adjective. ...
  • brittle. adjective. ...
  • croaky. adjective. ...
  • dead. adjective. ...
  • disembodied. adjective.

What is the difference between a tenor and a countertenor? ›

Roughly speaking, a tenor's range runs from C3 (an octave below middle C) to G4 (the G above middle C). A countertenor's range goes from around G3 to E5, while an alto ranges from F3 to D5, a mezzo-soprano from A3 to F5 and a soprano from C4 (middle C) to A5.

What is the best way to describe someone's voice? ›

Words to Describe an Attractive or Pleasant Voice
  1. bright.
  2. captivating.
  3. comforting.
  4. deep.
  5. ethereal.
  6. euphonic.
  7. feathery.
  8. fruity.

What are the 5 qualities of voice? ›

Some key vocal qualities
  • Tone. Vocal tone is unique to a speaker, just like a fingerprint. ...
  • Rhythm. When speaking you don't want your words sounding drawn out, too fast, or disjointed. ...
  • Resonance. ...
  • Inflection. ...
  • Tempo. ...
  • Texture.
Feb 22, 2022

What are the 5 characteristics of voice? ›

What Are Vocal Qualities?
  • Volume.
  • Rate.
  • Pitch.
  • Fluency.
  • Articulation.
  • Tone.
Feb 14, 2022

What is beautiful voice called? ›

euphoniously. Something euphonious sounds beautiful and pleasant. "You have a euphonious voice!" is a great compliment for a singer. This word sounds pretty when you say it, so it makes sense that it describes something pleasing to the ear.

What is a female tenor voice called? ›

Low voice
soprano:C4 to A5
mezzo-soprano:A3 to F#5
alto:G3 to E5 (and contralto as F3-D5)
tenor:roughly C3 to A4
baritone:A2 to F4
1 more row

Can a man be a tenor? ›

Based on the vocal ranges of singers, they can be divided into different voice types. These are further divided into voice types for men and women. One of the common voice types for men is a tenor.

What voice type was Freddie Mercury? ›

Although he naturally held a baritone voice, he primarily sang as a tenor and of course had no problem then shifting into soprano parts.

What voice type was Frank Sinatra? ›

According to music critic Henry Pleasants "The voice itself was a typical Italian light baritone with a two octave range from G to G, declining, as it darkened in later years, to F to F and with greater potential at the top than he was commonly disposed to exploit.

What voice type is Michael Jackson? ›

Michael Jackson was one of the few singers who had great vocal range though he didn't have the largest vocal range . But it was more than 4 octaves which is really rare for male singers . His voice was high tenor and high piched .


1. Mezzo-soprano voice range
(Rochdale Borough Council)
2. Tenor voice range
(Rochdale Borough Council)
3. Soprano voice range
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4. Tenor horn - what it sounds like
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5. Cornet - what it sounds like
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6. Recorder - what it sounds like
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