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In music, tessitura (Italian:  [tessiˈtuːra] , pl. tessiture, "texture"; English: /tɛsɪˈtjrə/ ) is the most acceptable and comfortable vocal range for a given singer or less frequently, musical instrument, the range in which a given type of voice presents its best-sounding (or characteristic) timbre. This broad definition is often interpreted to refer specifically to the pitch range that most frequently occurs within a given part of a musical piece. Hence, in musical notation, tessitura is the ambitus in which that particular vocal (or less often instrumental) part lies—whether high or low, etc.


However, the tessitura of a part or voice is not decided by the extremes of its range, but rather by which share of this total range is most used. Hence, it is referred to as the "heart" of a range. [1] For example, throughout the entirety of Wagner's Ring , the music written for the tenor role of Siegfried ranges from C3 to C5, but the tessitura is described as high because the phrases are most often in the range of C4 to A4.

Furthermore, the tessitura concept addresses not merely a range of pitches but also the arrangement of those pitches. The particular melodic contour of a singer's part may also be considered to be an important aspect of his vocal tessitura. Tessitura considerations include these factors: proportion of sudden or gradual rises and falls in pitch—speed of pitch changes; the relative number of very high or low notes; whether lines and phrases of music in the piece tend to rise or fall—the muscular abilities of a singer may be more suited to one or the other direction. A singer's ideal tessitura is centered on the single pitch in which their dynamic range is greatest. [2]

The extension to the more particular "weaving" of a voice has led to a commixture of tessitura and voice type. For example, the volume (loudness) that a singer is able to maintain for dramatic effect will often influence which Fach (voice type) or tessitura they specialize in. For example, a lyric tenor may have the vocal range to sing Wagner or other dramatic roles, but to maintain the loudness required for dramatic intensity over the span of an opera performance could either inflict vocal damage or be beyond his ability.

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Clef Musical symbol used to indicate the pitch of written notes

A clef is a musical symbol used to indicate which notes are represented by the lines and spaces on a musical stave. When a clef is placed on a staff it assigns a particular pitch to one of the five lines, which in turn gives pitch value to the remaining lines and spaces.

A soprano ([soˈpraːno]) is a type of classical female singing voice and has the highest vocal range of all voice types. The soprano's vocal range (using scientific pitch notation) is from approximately middle C (C4) = 261 Hz to "high A" (A5) = 880 Hz in choral music, or to "soprano C" (C6, two octaves above middle C) = 1046 Hz or higher in operatic music. In four-part chorale style harmony, the soprano takes the highest part, which often encompasses the melody. The soprano voice type is generally divided into the coloratura, soubrette, lyric, spinto, and dramatic soprano.

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Vocal range is the range of pitches that a human voice can phonate. Its most common application is within the context of singing, where it is used as a defining characteristic for classifying singing voices into voice types. It is also a topic of study within linguistics, phonetics, and speech-language pathology, particularly in relation to the study of tonal languages and certain types of vocal disorders, although it has little practical application in terms of speech.

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  1. Benjamin, Thomas (2003). The Craft of Tonal Counterpoint. New York: Taylor & Francis Group. p. 6. ISBN   9780203494110.
  2. Titze, Ingo (September 2008). "Voice Research and Technology: Quantifying Tessitura in a Song". Journal of Singing . 65: 59–61.

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