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This rubbish has
no place on a serious music website.
It is exactly the sort of thing that will finally kill off classical music in our time, as I explain at extreme length in my book, Music for a Whine,  available in all secondhand bookshops.
Dame Norma Lebrecht

CT Dictionary
-|--Top 10 Reasons to be a CT--|--Terrible CT Jokes

Bad joke alert! 
This page is full of the most appalling rubbish.
You have been warned.

Empio, dirˇ, tu sei ! Togliti a gli occhi miei!

With apologies to Mr Handel and thanks to Goscinny and Uderzo, creators of the immortal Asterix  


How do you get 6,500 people at the Last Night of the Proms
to stop coughing entirely and be absolutely silent for a whole five minutes?

A:  Get Andreas Scholl to sing to them.

"Countertenors?!  I need crowd control!"
Paul McMaestro McCreesh

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All these terms can be found in standard dictionaries - but not these definitions!

Counteract  i)  operatic performance by a countertenor
ii) act of an opera containing the leading countertenor's big aria
if you are reading this, you don't need a definition.  See counterattraction, below
to play countertenor CDs very loudly on a Sunday morning and wake up the neighbours
Counterattraction phenomenon of being drawn to the countertenor voice
Counterbalance skill required of a countertenor required to sing Va Tacito atop a high tower, rising and falling, on stage
Counterbeam  big smile from a countertenor
Counterblast unexpected fortissimo baritone from a countertenor
Counterbore  irritating subspecies of counterbuff (q.v.)
Counterbuff  i)  music lover devoted to or very knowledgeable about countertenors
ii) contributor to this website
Countercast  to give an alto role to a countertenor
Counterchange  putting on jumpers, anorak, scarves and hat after performance
cost of a ticket to a countertenor concert
mesmerising effect a countertenor on his audience
countertenor declaring that he should sing a certain role
correct way to count down the time before the next countertenor concert
where a countertenor writes the lyrics in case he goes blank in the middle of the song
Counterculture  i)  stolid adherence to Baroque male alto repertoire regardless of musical fashion
ii) the customarily excellent manners of the countertenor
vile imprecations muttered by concertgoer on hearing that a countertenor concert has been cancelled.
to come back to the mundane banality of earthly existence after listening to the aetherial tones of a countertenor
Counterembattled  of a countertenor singing an heroic aria from the battlements of a castle
detective work required to find a countertenor concerts that are not publicised by his agent or recording label
Counterevidence  countertenor CD left in the CD player
Counterfeit pedal extremities of a countertenor
Counterfoil  preventing unappreciative family and friends from administering counterpenalty (q.v.)
Counterguard  body guard for a countertenor
lute or harpsichord.  Ocasionally, fortepiano
Counterintelligence cerebral gifts in a countertenor
Counterintuitive of a male alto who succeeds despite being untrained
Counterirritant e.g. telling a countertenor that the conductor prefers female mezzos to countertenors
Counterletter  fan mail to a countertenor
insistence on casting a countertenor. May be followed by disparaging remarks about contraltos in trousers.
collective motion of a party of countertenor admirers on their way to the concert hall from the pub
Countermeasure   about 6'4" or 1.96m
customary action of a countertenor, e.g. bending the knees whn emphasising a word or note
Counteroffensive   promotional tour for a countertenor's latest CD
Counterpane spasm in the stomach on hearing of the cancellation of a countertenor recital.  See countersink and counterstricken, below
role in an opera sung by a countertenor
Counterpenalty  having one's countertenor CDs confiscated by unappreciative family or friends
Counterplea   audience clapping madly in hope of one more encore from a countertenor
Counterplot  that which is well and truly lost by a counterbuff or counterbore (q.v.)
Counterpoint  (i) gesture of a concertgoer on seeing a famous countertenor
(ii) a device of many Baroque composers, all of whom are dead, though no direct connection between these two facts has been established. Still taught in many schools, as a form of punishment
Counterpoise dramatic posture adopted by countertenor about to sing an heroic aria
Counterpoison  substance that a counterbuff's friends and familiy would like to administer to a counterbuff, often prepared in the garden on a wet day
see counterview, below
Counterproductive  of countertenor in the studio, recording the new CD
formal invitation by a promoter to a countertenor
feeling in stomach as countertenor sings Bach
Counterreformation --- conversion of an unbeliever to countertenor-enthusiasm
Counterrevolution phenomenon in late twentieth-century musical taste
Counterscuffle  mob of concertgoers trying to get a countertenor's autograph
irritating plastic wrapping that prevents you from listening to your new countertenor CD for at least half an hour
Countersense  appreciation of the skill and art of the countertenor
Countershading designer stubble on the face of a countertenor
Countersign to autograph, e.g. a CD booklet; of a countertenor
Countersink  i)  feeling regularly experienced by the spouse of a counterbuff (q.v.)
ii) feeling on seeing the notice that the countertenor is unwell and unable to sing that night
feeling on hearing confirmation that the countertenor is unwell and will not sing
Countertenor singing waiter with a high voice
Someone who attempts to usurp the hegemony of conceited male singers.
Counterterrorism  shock and amazement in uninitiated concertgoer on first seeing a 6'4" male singing in a powerful alto voice.
e.g Umiliata ti vedr˛  (Tolomeo in Giulio Cesare, Act III)
countertenor's gesture accompanying e.g. I will give you a full flowing ball (Henry Martin)
Countertop   baseball cap
Countertripping  unchoreographed dance by a countertenor encountering a prop in the wrong place on stage
Countervalue   i)  encores
ii) group booking for concert
Counterview  best seats at a countertenor concert, i.e. within sock distance
Kitchen counter 
countertenor who can cook
Over the counter 
legally purchased CDs
Rev counter
number of clergy at a countertenor concert
Speed counter
countertenor singing rapid coloratura
Under the counter
mysterious CDs received through the post

Definitions from other saddos with imagination and big dictionaries very welcome. (Strict editorial control exercised here!)  Mail us!


  The secret life of countertenors? (Argh - Ed.)

Graham Pushee - Is it true that he won't take no for an answer ?

Daniel Taylor - Does he make his own opera costumes?
Robin Blaze - Does he moonlight as a firefighter?

James Bowman - Does he play bit parts in The Archers? (world's longest running soap on BBC radio)

Michael Chance - Is he an ace poker player?

Allan Fast - OK, but exactly how fast is he?

Andreas Scholl Part-time fisherman?  (You need a bit of German for this one)

Robert Expert - Really?  Cool!

Tobias Cole and Axel Kohler - Do they moonlight as miners?

Peter Kennel - Does he run a holiday hotel for dogs?


Top Ten Reasons for Being a Countertenor

1 -- You get really good at singing E-flat.

2 -- You get to sing the same note for 12 consecutive measures.

3 --You don't really need to warm up to sing 12 consecutive bars of E-flat.

4 -- If the choir sounds really awful, it's unlikely the countertenors will be blamed.

5 -- You have lots of time to chat during soprano solos.

6 -- You know you are better than the sopranos because everybody knows that women only sing soprano so they don't have to learn to read music.

7 -- You can sometimes find part time work singing tenor.

8 -- Countertenors get all the great intervals.

9 -- When the sopranos are holding some outrageously high note at the end of an anthem, the countertenors always get the last words.

10 -- When the countertenors miss a note, nobody gets hurt.


 What's a countertenor's favourite computer operating system?
How many countertenors does it take to change a lightbulb?
One, and four contraltos to say 'I would have done it better.'
How many countertenors does it take to change a lightbulb?
None. They can't get that high.
How many countertenors does it take to change a lightbulb?
Two. One to screw it in and the other to say 'Isn't that a little high for you?'


Ten Commandments for Concert-goers

Thou shalt hearken unto the music with all thy heart, with all thy soul, and all thy mind, to aid thee in thine endeavor. Study thou thy programme notes and thereby be sore fully prepared to garner the blessings of the inspired melodies which are about to be sounded.
Thou shalt not arrive late, for the stir of thy coming disturbeth those who did come in due season; neither shalt thou rush forth as a great wind at intermission time or before the end of the programme; nor shalt thou trample to thy left nor thy right the ushers or the doormen or the multitudes that are about thee.
Thou shalt keep in check thy coughings and thy sneezings for they are an abomination, and they shall bring forth evil execrations upon thee and upon thy household, even unto the third and fourth generations.
Thou shalt not rustle thy programme, for the noise thereof is not as the murmur of the leaves of the forest but brash and raucous and soothest not.
Thou shalt not yahoo unto thy relatives, nor unto thy friends, nor unto any member of thy club or of thy household, nor unto any of thy neighbours.
Thou shalt not whisper, for thy mouthings, howsoever hushed they may be, bring discord to the ear of those who sit about thee.
Thou shalt not chew with great show of sound or motion. Remember that thou art not as the kine of the meadow who do chew the cud in the pastoral serenity which is vouchsafed them.
Thou shalt not direct thy index finger at persons of public note and say unto thy neighbour, "Yonder goeth so and so," but reflect that some day thou shalt perchance be a celebrity, and thou shalt be in great discomfort when thou art pointed at and thou shalt not be pleased one jot or tittle thereby.
Thou shalt not slumber, for in thy stupor thou hast ears and heareth not; peradventure thou possesseth a rumbling obbligato when thou sleepeth and, verily, the rabble may be aroused thereby to do thee grievous harm.
Thou shalt not become a self-ordained music critic and with booming voice comment garrulously about the players or the playing; neither shalt thou hum, or tap thy foot; for thou hast come as a listener and a lover of music, not as a critic nor as a performer, and remember that none among the multitudes has paid to hear thy hummings or thy tappings or to listen unto thine opinions.


Miscellaneous nonsense...
Outrageous!  Gratuitous insults to hardworking singers.  And conductors.  Tsk tsk.

How do you get a Wagnerian soprano to sing softer?  Give her some sheet music.
How many tenors does it take to change a light bulb?  None.  They just steal somebody else's light.
How many singers does it take to change a lightbulb?  Six. one to change it, and the other five to fight off the tenor who is hogging.
How many tenors does it take to change a light bulb?  Four.  One to change the bulb and three to bitch that they could have done it if they had the high notes.
How do you tell if a tenor is dead?  The wine bottle is still full and the comics haven't been touched.
How do you put a sparkle in a tenor's eye?  Shine a flashlight in his ear.
Where is a tenor's resonance?  Where his brain should be.
What's the definition of a male quartet?  Three men and a tenor.
Did you hear about the tenor who announced that in the following season he would only sing three title roles: Othello, Samson, and Forza del Destino?
If you took all the tenors in the world and laid them end to end, it would be a good idea.
How do you tell if a bass is actually dead?  Hold out a cheque (but don't be fooled: a slight, residual spasmodic clutching action may occur even hours after death has occurred).
How do you tell if a bass is dead?  What's the difference?
In the last act of Don Giovanni, there is always a statue which is replaced at some point by a real singer, a bass (the Commendatore).  How can you tell when the switch has occurred?  The statue starts looking a bit stiff.
How many basses does it take to change a lightbulb?  None.  They're so macho they prefer to walk in the dark and bang their shins.
A guy walks into a pet store wanting a parrot. The store clerk shows him two beautiful ones out on the floor. "This one's $5,000 and the other is $10,000." the clerk said.  "Wow! What does the $5,000 one do?"    "This parrot can sing every aria Mozart ever wrote."   "And the other?" said the customer.  "This one can sing Wagner's entire Ring cycle. There's another one in the back room for $30,000."  "Holy moly! What does that one do?"  "Nothing that I can tell, but the other two parrots call him 'Maestro'."
What's the first thing a composer says at work?  "Would you like fries with that?"
What do you call a composer without a significant other?  "Homeless."
Why do composers have to be awake by six o'clock?  Because most shops close by six thirty.
What would a composer do if he won a million dollars?  Continue to compose until the money ran out.
What's the difference between a conductor and a stagecoach driver?  The stagecoach driver only has to look at four horses' asses.
There were two people walking down the street. One was a composer. The other didn't have any money either.
What's the difference between a bull and an orchestra?  The bull has the horns in the front and the a**hole in the back.
A conductor and a violist are standing in the middle of the road.  Which one do you run over first, and why?  The conductor. Business before pleasure.
Why are conductor's hearts so coveted for transplants?  They've had so little use.
What's the difference between a conductor and a sack of fertilizer?  The sack.
What do you have when a group of conductors are up to their necks in wet concrete?  Not enough concrete.
What's the difference between a pig and a symphony orchestra conductor?  There are some things a pig just isn't willing to do.
What's the ideal weight for a conductor?  About 2 1/2 lbs. including the urn.
What's the difference between God and a conductor?  God knows He's not a conductor.
What's the definition of an assistant conductor?  A mouse trying to become a rat.
What's the difference between alto clef and Greek?  Some conductors actually read Greek.
What to do with a horn player that can't play?  Give him two sticks, put him in the back, and call him a percussionist.  What do you do if he can't do that?  Take away one of the sticks, put him up front, and call him Maestro.
If you threw a violist and a soprano off a cliff, which one would hit the ground first? Who cares? 
What's the difference between a soprano and a terrorist?  You can negotiate with a terrorist.
What's the difference between a soprano and a pirhana?  The lipstick.
What's the difference between a soprano and a pit bull?  The jewellery.
How many sopranos does it take to change a light bulb? 
One. She holds the bulb and the world revolves around her.
Two. One to hold the diet cola and the other to get her accompanist to do it.  

Four. One to change the bulb and three to pull the chair out from under her.
What's the difference between a Wagnerian soprano and the average All-Pro offensive lineman?  Stage makeup.
What's the difference between a Wagnerian soprano and a Wagnerian Tenor?  About 10 pounds
How is a soubrette different from a sewer rat?   Some people actually like sewer rats.
What's the difference between a soubrette and a cobra?  One is deadly poisonous, and the other is a reptile.
How do you tell if a Wagnerian soprano is dead?  The horses seem very relieved.
What's the first thing a soprano does in the morning?  Puts on her clothes and goes home.
What's the next thing a soprano does in the morning?  Looks for her instrument.
What's the difference between a soprano and a Porsche?   Most musicians have never been in a Porsche.
What's the definition of a mezzo?  A soprano who can sight-read.
A musician arrived at the pearly gates.   What did you do when you were alive?" asked St. Peter.   "I was the principal trombone player of the London Symphony Orchestra."   "Excellent! We have a vacancy in our celestial symphony orchestra for a trombonist. Why don't you turn up at the next rehearsal."   So, when the time for the next rehearsal arrived our friend turned up with his heavenly trombone [sic]. As he took his seat, God moved, in a mysterious way, to the podium and tapped his baton to bring the players to attention. Our friend turned to the angelic second trombonist (!) and whispered, "So, what's God like as a conductor?"  "Oh, he's OK most of the time, but occasionally he thinks he's von Karajan."
Mozart was in a bad mood because once again the string section was off, and the new symphony was starting to sound abysmal. During the rehearsal break, a sad-eyed trombonist walked up to him and whispered, "Maestro, a good friend of mine just died, and he didn't have two kreutzers to rub together.  We're taking up a collection for his funeral expenses, so could you see your way to donating five gulden to help bury a poor violinist?"  Mozart reached into his pocket and slapped some money into the musician's hand.  "Five gulden to bury a violinist?  Take thirty, be my guest and bury six of them for me!"
The rehearsal was going badly, and Mozart's dog was starting to howl.  Someone in the string section made the mistake of laughing.  Mozart looked straight in his direction.  "Hmmm.  Do you know what the difference is between my dog and the string section?"  Mozart  asked with a straight face.  "No," someone foolishly replied.  "The dog knows when to stop scratching."
Twelve year old Mozart was looking over the orchestra, listening to the rehearsals.  It was his first opera, and like many other 'firsts' in his life, he had to deal with an uncooperative orchestra.  After a few minutes of listening, thinking, and jotting down margin notes, he asked the theatre director if he could hire about 20 or 25 (!!) more violinists.   The director was clearly annoyed, which was nothing new.  "What a demanding young man you are!"  He scowled.  "Why do you need more violins?"  "Because there must be someone in this town who is able to play the right notes at the right time with right expression," Mozart piped up.
Steven Spielberg was discussing his new project - an action docudrama about famous composers starring top movie stars. Sylvester Stallone, Steven Seagal, Bruce Willis, and Arnold Schwarzenegger were all present. "Well," started Stallone, "I've always admired Mozart. I would love to play him."  "Chopin has always been my favorite, and my image would improve if people saw me playing the piano," said Willis. "I'll play him."  "I've always been partial to Strauss and his waltzes," said Seagal. "I'd like to play him."  Spielberg was very pleased with these choices. "Sounds splendid."  Then, looking at Schwarzenegger, he asked, "Who do you want to be, Arnold?"  So Arnold says, "I'll be Bach."
I worry that the person who thought up Muzak may be thinking up something else ~ Lily Tomlin

with thanks to RSG

An unusual manner of pronunciation, e.g. 'Y'all sang that real good!'
Accidentals Wrong notes
Ad libitum A premiere
Agitato String player's state of mind when a peg slips in the middle of a piece
Agnus Dei Woman composer famous for her church music
Altered chord A sonority that has been spayed
Attaca 'Fire at will!'
Augmented fifth 36-ounce bottle
Bar line Gathering of people, usually among which may be found a musician or two
Beat What music students to do each other with their musical instruments. The down beat is performed on the top of the head, while the up beat is struck under the chin
Bravo Literally, How bold! or What nerve! Spontaneous expression of appreciation on the part of the concert goer after a particularly trying performance
Breve How a sustained note sounds when a violinist runs out of  bow
Cadence (i) The short nickname of a rock group whose full name is Cadence Clearwater Revival
(ii) When everybody hopes you're going to stop, but you don't. Final Cadence: when they FORCE you to stop
Cantus firmus The part you get when you can only play four notes
Chord Usually spelt with an 's' on the end, means a particular type of pants, e.g. 'He wears chords.'
Chromatic scale Instrument for weighing that indicates half-pounds
Clef (i) If a student cannot sing, he may have an affliction of the palate, called a clef
(ii) Something to jump from if you can't sing and you have to teach
Coloratura soprano Singer who has great trouble finding the proper note, but who has a wild time hunting for it
Compound meter Place to park your car that requires two dimes
Duple meter May take any even number of coins
Triple meter Only rich people should park by these
Meter signature Autograph of the person who writes you a ticket when you put an odd number of coins in a duple meter
Conduct Type of air vents in a prison, especially designed to prevent escape. Could also be installed for effective use in a practice room
Conductor Musician who is adept at following many people at the same time
Crescendo Reminder to the performer that he has been playing too loudly
Cut time When you're going twice as fast as everyone else in the orchestra
Detache Indication that the trombones are to play with the slides removed
Diatonic What buxom sopranos drink in an effort to become svelte
Discord Not to be confused with Datcord
Dominant Adjective used to describe the voice of a child who sings off key
Duration Can be used to describe how long a music teacher can exercise self-control
English horn Neither English nor a horn, not to be confused with the French horn, which is German
Espressivo Close the eyes and play with a wide vibrato
Fermata Brand of girdle made especially for opera singers
Flat What happens to a tonic if it sits too long in the open air.
Flute Sophisticated pea shooter with a range of up to 500 yards, blown transversely to confuse the enemy
Form (i) The shape of a composition
(ii) The shape of the musician playing the composition
(iii) The paper to be filled out in triplicate in order to get enough money from the Arts Council to play the composition
Glissando (i) The musical equivalent of slipping on a banana peel
(ii) A technique adopted by string players for difficult runs
Half step Pace used by a cellist when carrying his instrument
Harmonic minor Good music student
Harmony Corn-like food eaten by people with accents (see above for definition of accent)
Hemiola Hereditary blood disease caused by chromatics
Heroic tenor Singer who gets by on sheer nerve and tight clothing
Lamentoso With handkerchiefs
Major triad Name of the head of the Music Department
Minor triad Name of the wife of the head of the Music Department
Mean-tone temperament State of mind when everybody's trying to tune at the same time
Modulation 'Nothing is bad in modulation.'
Music Er...
Tempo Where a headache begins
Tone cluster Chordal orgy first discovered by a well-endowed woman pianist leaning forward for a page turn
Tonic Medicinal liquid to be consumed with gin before, during, or after a performance. (.)
Transposition Moving the relative pitch of a piece of  music that is too low for the basses to a point where it is too high for the sopranos
Trill Musical equivalent of an epileptic seizure
Triplet One of three children, born to one mother very closely in time. If a composer uses a lot of triplets he has probably been taking a fertility drug
Vibrato Used by singers to hide the fact that they are on the wrong pitch
Virtuoso Musician with very high morals.

picture: Musica-Viva

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