(from It. tenore, ‘holding’).
1 Highest normal male v., its name deriving from medieval times when it was the v. which carried the plainsong or other cantus firmus while other vv. sang a counterpoint. Range from C below middle C, upwards for 2 octaves. There are various categories of ten., e.g. tenor di forza, heroic ten., as for Verdi's Otello; tenor di grazia, lyrical ten., as Nemorino in L'elisir d'amore; tenor robusto, powerful ten., as Manrico in Il trovatore; tenor spinto, forceful lyric ten., as Rodolfo in La bohème; see also countertenor and Heldentenor.
2 Name given to certain instr. deemed to be equivalent in range, etc., of ten. v., e.g. ten. sax., ten. tuba, etc.
3 The va.