A tenor is a classification of male voice whose range typically lies from C3 (C4 is middle C) to A4, though a conservative range would lie from around E3 to F4. In SATB part writing, the "tenor" voice is the third voice, as is written on a "treble 8 clef" staff, or a treble clef staff whose notes sound an octave lower than written (making middle C the third space, for example).
A tenor section can be divided into two divisi - namely tenor 1 and tenor 2. To be able to comfortable and consistently have access to the full tenor range, a divisi split like this is a good idea, as higher tenors will have trouble with most of the notes below the staff, and lower tenors - who most commonly are actually baritones with higher-than-average ranges - will strain to hit notes F4 and above.
At their extremes, tenors have been known to be able to sing A2 (the A below their staff) to C5 (one octave above middle C). Higher male singers typically fall into the "countertenor" classification, and lower singers would be classified as baritones or basses.
The standard tenor range is from about D3 to about G4 give or take a whole step. This is the top and bottom of the range that will be most commonly used (in varying degrees)in an SATB choral setting and in Beginner level to Upper-Intermediate level music. More difficult choral music, though rare, can use anywhere between A2 and C5 for the entire tenor section. Again, these high and low ranges are very uncommon and will only be found in the most extreme cases. Though the lower register is always uncommon for the tenor voice, it is not at all uncommon for advanced solo tenor literature to contain passages that reach C5, and even in a few cases up to D5 and even rarer E5 or F5.
A common acceptance among voice instructors is that vocal part in solo singing is governed more by vocal timbre than by range. It is not uncommon to find a baritone or bass that can sing up to a G4 or higher in full chest voice and in good quality. It is as common for there to be true tenors who are simply unable to produce a full-bodied, quality sound on higher notes, but also lack the lower range of a typical baritone or bass. Therefore, many will discern a tenor voice type by it's often bright tone, and usually more forward placement (that is to say the perceived sound origin is closer to the front of the mouth, as opposed to further back). This does not mean there are no tenors with a dark sound, and there are no basses/baritones with a bright sound, but more often then not, the timbre is the determinate factor.
|Instruments and Voices|
|Woodwinds||Flute (Piccolo/Alto/Bass) • Recorder • Oboe (Cor Anglais/Oboe D'amore/Heckelphone) • Clarinet (E♭/Bass/Contrabass) •|
|Brass||Horn • Cornet • Trumpet • Trombone • Euphonium • Tuba • Saxhorns|
|Keyboards||Piano • Organ • Harmonium • Harpsichord • Clavichord • Celesta • Accordion|
|Percussion||Tuned: Timpani • Glockenspiel • Chimes • Vibraphone • Xylophone • Marimba • Crotales • Musical saw • Hammered Dulcimer|
|Electronic||Theremin • Ondes Martenot • Synthesizer • Electronic Wind Instrument|
|Stringed||Bowed: Violin • Viola • Violoncello • Contrabass|
|Voices||Female: Soprano • Mezzo-soprano (often mistaken with Alto) • Contralto (often mistaken with Alto)|