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Counter Tenor voices

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I would like to start a discussion on the counter-tenor voice. I am by no means an expert but I have stumbled into an area of vocalism that really has me excited.

Specifically, I'd like to talk about male sopranos, sopranists, male altos, counter tenor, I am sure there are other identifiers, however, these will do for now.

So what is this high male voice that I am so excited about? Well back a few hundred years ago European society embraced the male high voice. As I understand women didn't have a big role in singing publicly, and I could be mistaken, but they certainly weren't allowed to sing in churches. What a pity as we all know that the "castrati" of the time filled the high singing roles of the operas created, along with gender bendering of roles by these men. A serious and heinous act but none the less these men were the next thing to angels, especially if they had beautiful voices. There were quite a few famous castrati and I personally am most fascinated by Farinelli (aka Carlo Maria Broschi).

How does this relate to now? Well, there seems to be a resurgence of interest in performing baroque pieces which originally was scored for a male to sing the high parts. A lot of men are coming forth and breaking barriers to sing these parts as since the act of castration was prohibited, women sang those roles. Sometimes called "pant roles".

There are still a handful of wonderful counters out there like Jaroussky, Daniels, Scholl and a bunch of newbies too. I scour YouTube to find these brave and sensitve men. I think the world needs more sensitive men, but that is a different discussion! :-)

So I'll stop here for now and as I get inspiration I'll add technique ideas, head voice discussions, etc. If you want to add comments or questions, please do! I don't bite!


I learned something today while reading information on Farinelli. It was said that he was able to get into tenor range (C3) with his voice all the way up to soprano (D6). This I find fascinating since I'd suspect he had probably a regular male sounding voice so he probably sang in chest voice on the very low notes and most likely in head voice on the upper notes. So I am curious as to why castration would have enabled him to sing soprano? He had a range which is not too different than mine. Granted I can go lower G2 but I can now go to A5 which is roughly the same distance. I suspect that maybe the lack of testosterone would have affected the length of his cords but his range is not too unusual as compared to some of the counters out there.


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